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Emphasis on maintenance of roading applauded

MEDIA RELEASE

Strictly embargoed until 6:00pm Weds 28 June, 2006

Contractors applaud emphasis on maintenance of roading network

Roading New Zealand, the industry organisation representing contractors who carry out most of the country’s roading and civil work, has expressed its strong approval of Land Transport New Zealand’s 2006/07 transport budget, which allocates significant extra spending on the maintenance of the roading network, as well as on new road construction.

The 2006/07 National Land Transport Programme, announced today, totals almost $2.1 billion, an increase of 15 percent on last year’s programme. With $827 million set aside for construction, including $398 million for new works, this is good news for motorists in the battle to reduce road congestion and improve safety.

While increased funding for construction of new roads was expected, the coming year’s budget also boosts spending on the maintenance of both state highways and local roads by an average of 9 percent to a total of $803 million, almost as much as the planned spending on construction.

Chris Olsen, chief executive of Roading New Zealand, says Land Transport NZ has acted with foresight in setting the maintenance budget. ”Timely maintenance can save huge repair costs and disruption to motorists in the future”, he said.

“The reality is that while New Zealand undoubtedly needs new roads in some critical areas, our maintenance needs are constantly increasing too”, he says.

“Compared to many other countries our construction costs are low, but our chipseal roads require high maintenance, so the increased funding is very realistic”.

Mr. Olsen says the pressure is on maintenance for several reasons. First, there’s a six to seven percent traffic growth on some state highways, resulting in faster wear and tear; then there is the growth in size of the network, with a steady increase in the total length of roading requiring maintenance; and finally, there’s a move to better road surfacing using asphaltic concrete.

“Both Transit New Zealand and local roading authorities are specifying greater lengths of asphalt roads, which are environmentally more acceptable because they are quieter”, says Mr. Olsen. “Asphalt roads cost more to construct, but it’s generally true to say they require less maintenance in the long term, so they are a good investment.”

Mr. Olsen says delivery of the $827 million programme of new construction and road renewals for the coming year is well within the scope of contractors, who have been gearing for major infrastructure increases with additional plant and staff numbers.

The five-year construction programme gives contractors the confidence to continue to invest in people and plant. The $149 million increase in construction work for 2006/07 is about the same increase as last year.

ENDS


About Roading New Zealand

Roading New Zealand represents the majority of New Zealand's roading construction companies. Member companies currently contract and/or build up to 90% of Transit’s work and 70% of territorial authority roading work, and have a combined turnover of approximately $2.0 billion per annum.

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