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Transit, Tauranga City welcome decision on tolling

Media Release

3 August 2005

Transit and Tauranga City Council welcome government’s decision on tolling Harbour Link

Transit New Zealand and Tauranga City Council welcome the Cabinet decision announced today to approve tolling of the Harbour Link project, following extensive community consultation on the proposal. The approval allows the project to progress to construction many years earlier than would otherwise be possible.

“The Harbour Link project is a critical component of the region’s Strategic Roading Network, the timely completion of which is contingent on access to alternative funding sources such as tolling,” said Stuart Crosby, Mayor of Tauranga.

The Strategic Roading Network is a series of interrelated projects forming an efficient ring road linking Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and the Port of Tauranga, and is considered critical to the sub-region’s 50-year SmartGrowth strategy. The Harbour Link project, which includes a duplicate Harbour Bridge and widening of the causeway, will provide a continuous four-lane expressway linking Tauranga with Hewletts Road and Mount Maunganui.

The toll proposal was prepared in partnership by Tauranga City Council and Transit because the project includes both local road and state highway components.

“As well as bringing forward its construction, tolling Harbour Link enables an element of demand management to be introduced, which is essential for the long-term sustainability of the overall network in the region,” said Rick van Barneveld, Transit Chief Executive.

In recognition of community equity issues, including the fact that the existing Harbour crossing was built using tolls to cover part of the construction cost, half of the construction cost for Harbour Link will be financed by the National Land Transport Fund. The balance of funding for the project will be sought through public sector debt finance to be repaid by tolling.

Extensive consultation and a separate survey of the affected community as defined under the Land Transport Management Act 2003 demonstrated strong community support for the proposal to advance Harbour Link by tolling.

The Minister of Transport also announced today the allocation of a $150m Crown Grant to help further accelerate progress on developing other critical transport infrastructure in the greater Bay of Plenty.

“While the Crown Grant allocation is great news for the region, there remains a funding shortfall for strategic transport infrastructure and this is why Harbour Link needs to be partially toll funded,” said Mayor Crosby.

“The combination of traditional sources of funding, toll funding and the Crown Grant will facilitate the completion of this region’s strategic corridors, unlocking the economic and social benefits – both locally and nationally – sooner than would otherwise be possible,” said Mayor Crosby.

Construction of Harbour Link will start between October 2006 and March 2007.

ENDS

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