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Launch of National Roading Programme - Speech

Hon Mark Gosche
21 June 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of National Roading Programme

Kia ora koutou, talofa lava and greetings to you all.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak at this launch of Transfund’s National Roading Programme for 2001-2002. In particular may I acknowledge before I begin the Transfund chair Michael Gross, and chief executive Martin Gummer, along with my colleagues Harry Duynhoven, Sue Kedgley and Belinda Vernon.

A total of $950 million is to be spent by Transfund this financial year, an increase of $10 million. There are a wide range of important needs throughout the country that need addressing and the National Roading Programme progresses a range of projects nationwide. This includes the four-laning and realignment of State Highway 1 south of Mercer and the Hawke’s Bay Expressway extension to Napier Airport.

Just over half of the expenditure this year is to be spent on maintenance. The pressures of increases in traffic and bitumen prices are being somewhat offset by efficiencies gained by Transfund through competitive tendering, the introduction of longer-term performance-specified contracts and new maintenance standards.

It is clear that Transfund is delivering value for money in the funding it spends, and this continues to ensure that every dollar spent by it produces substantial benefits for road and public transport users.

When I became Minister of Transport I recognised that one of the most critical issues facing transport in New Zealand is traffic congestion in Auckland. This is because the economic, social and environmental costs of that congestion impact not only on Auckland, but the whole country. Traffic congestion in Auckland is estimated to cost New Zealand as a whole $800 million per annum.

I am therefore pleased to see funding allocated this year in Auckland up by nearly $18 million, to progress a number of key State highway projects. This includes the upgrade of the road links between the motorway and the Port via Grafton Gully. In addition, funding has been allocated for a flyover on State highway 20 at Puhinui, and design funding for the improvements to Spaghetti Junction, to enable construction work on those projects to commence in due course.

The government is also working in partnership with local government in Auckland to improve passenger transport, by negotiating to buy the rail corridors in the region. This government is committed to investment in roading and passenger transport, to help alleviate Auckland’s gridlock.

One very recent example of this commitment is last week's announcement that the government is giving $2.1 million extra funding and an additional judge to the Environment Court over the next three years. Of course that doesn't just affect Auckland, the whole country will benefit. But almost a third of the 3000 outstanding cases before the Court nationally are in Auckland, and many of those are transport projects. The extra funding will go a long way to dealing with many of the roading issues currently caught in the court's backlog and will have a real impact on reducing compliance costs.

The government is also committed to improving alternatives to roading, including putting greater emphasis on passenger transport. The government has already made good progress on this issue. I am pleased to report that patronage funding for passenger transport is already proving successful. Some areas have already achieved on average 8 percent increases in patronage and I expect that figure to continue to grow.

In this light, I am particularly pleased to note that this year there is $9 million more for passenger transport, increasing total expenditure to $61 million this year. In addition, Transfund has allocated an indicative $8 million to possible Alternatives to Roading projects, up from $0.5 million last year. One such project close to home here is the development of the rail/bus interchange at the end of Lambton Quay.

However, tonight's announcements are not the end of the story. In the coming months I expect to announce the government's decisions on longer term land transport policy. I know many of you are looking forward to changes in the way roads are funded and managed.

In conclusion, there are many challenges for us all ahead and I want to congratulate Transfund, its chair, chief executive and its entire staff on another excellent year’s work.


ENDS

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