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Other Ways Of Funding New Roads Must Be Found

Media release
24 January 2002


Other Ways Of Funding New Roads Must Be Found

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says new ways of paying for the full programme of road building needed in the Auckland region must be found. He says councils must consider every option because there is no alternative to completing the motorway network and building other urgently-needed roads.

Transit NZ has announced it will use three quarters of its available funding over the next ten years on roading projects in the Auckland region. But there will still be a shortfall of three billion dollars.

Sir Barry says that decision is not surprising as there is never enough money in government coffers to pay for everything. But he says there is widespread public agreement about the need for better roads and an end to congestion and logjams on motorways, and councils are committed to that goal. “It’s the number one issue in the region, that’s clear,” Sir Barry says.

He says it will be up to local government to find a way of meeting the shortfall, otherwise the projects simply won’t happen.

“Private sector funding will be needed, as will user charges in some shape or form.

“Direct funding by councils is also an option, but that would probably require substantial borrowing because large sums are required. The question is whether our citizens and ratepayers want to take that option as it must add to Council debt.

“Manukau City Council’s current debt is low, among the lowest of any major council in the country. Nevertheless we borrowed to pay for building Te Irirangi Drive and it’s been a highly successful project.

“However I believe road users should meet the costs, not ratepayers, and the best way to do that is through regional fuel taxes and congestion charges.”

Sir Barry does not think public transport alone will solve the region’s problems. He says public transport is being expanded and upgraded, and plans are well advanced for improvements to bus, train and ferry services. “Once in place these improvements will attract many people out of their cars.

“But it’s just naive to believe that public transport can meet all public needs in a such a spread-out region. It can’t.

“Trucks, taxis and vans need fast-flowing and well connected roading networks, and with the growing economy there will be more of them. In addition, many commuters regularly make long journeys with multiple-destinations and for those people nothing replaces a car, particularly on weekends, given the busy schedules of modern families.

“I find it galling for some people to seriously suggest that Aucklanders should start riding bikes to work or to get to the supermarket for the weekly shopping. It’s ludicrous.”

Ends

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