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State Highway Programme Falls Short

Transit New Zealand’s State Highway Programme Falls Short – Should Set Target Of Completing Region’s Strategic Network By 2010

Transit New Zealand has been asked to become more proactive to seek the funding needed to complete the Auckland region’s state highway system no later than 2010 and earlier where possible.

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, said that Transit had confirmed in its recently released draft 10-year work programme that most of the region’s long-planned network could be built in the timeframe of the plan.

However, Transit had taken a decision to defer a number of projects because of an “expected” shortfall of funding. “It is NOT the job of Transit to prejudge the availability of funding by taking a decision to delay projects and frustrate completion of the region’s State Highway network,” said Mr Barnett.

The unanimous view of Auckland is that inadequate infrastructure is at the heart of the region’s transport frustrations. “Reflecting the will of the region, Transit should be making the strongest possible representations to its funder (Transfund) to come up with the money needed to ensure continuous progress of all the missing links in the regional network.

“Most of the time I am a strong optimist about New Zealand’s prospects,” said Mr Barnett. “But it is unacceptable and a disgrace that major manufacturers and other businesses are unable to plan with the certainty that the region’s transport infrastructure shortfall will be addressed in the foreseeable future.”

The coupling of incomplete transport infrastructure planned 30 years ago with uncertain energy supply now emerging through another failure to plan and build infrastructure ahead of demand, is a huge indictment on successive governments’ approach of “doing the minimum needed to get by each election” and the New Zealand “she’ll be right” attitude.

“Business and the New Zealand workforce deserve better. If we continue down the road we are now clearly heading, then New Zealand’s future is not going to be about getting New Zealand back up the tier of rich nations and achieving higher living standards, but how to stop New Zealand sliding out the back door into a third world status”, warned an unusually pessimistic Mr Barnett.

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