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Taxing petrol easy; building roads hard

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Taxing petrol easy; building roads too hard for Govt.

Raising the petrol tax by 5 cents a litre is the easy bit, but getting new road projects underway is proving too hard for Government, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

Recent delays to road construction are causing huge amounts of waste from traffic congestion while further expense is generated by the requirements of the Land Transport Management Act, EMA says.

"Since traffic congestion in Auckland must be fixed, EMA initially agreed the five cents per litre fuel tax from April 1st was acceptable if all of it was invested promptly in building more roads in the regions where it came from," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"The evidence is now that the Land Transport Management Act has delayed new road projects and the new tax won't overcome them or others. It's a zero sum game.

"Much of the extra tax will be squandered paying for gilt edged planning and alternative features specified under the LTMA.

"Four major, urgently needed and ready to go projects around Auckland bear this out.

"The Mt Roskill extension, the Manukau interchange, the North Shore Busway, and the Orewa to Puhoi motorway (Alpurt) were all ready to go a year ago but none has begun.

"We were given cast iron assurances this time last year that construction would commence on the Mt Roskill extension this summer - it hasn't. The same could be said for the Manukau interchange.

"The North Shore Busway has just been subjected to another round of delays with Transit offering no good reason.

"The estimated cost of the Orewa to Puhoi motorway have blown out from $180 million two years ago to over double, $365 million, now. 30% of the extra cost is admitted to be from escalating construction costs.

"Aucklanders are being slow boiled; when the motorway unpredictably gridlocks again, which will be soon, we'll see thousands of people hopping mad."

ENDS

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