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Funding shortfall clearly exposed


Funding shortfall clearly exposed

Today’s announcements don’t address the fundamental problem of insufficient funds to provide badly needed new and upgraded roads throughout the country. Displaying the proposed spend out over more than a decade just makes the shortfall for many areas even more apparent, Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Officer Tony Friedlander says.

“Even at the first reading there are some major shortfalls and omissions. Auckland needs at least $4 billion for new roads over the next 10 years; less than $2 billion has been allocated. There’s no money for desperately needed projects such as four-laning the high-fatality stretch of State Highway One between Auckland and Hamilton. Access in and out of Wellington will just get worse with no more money to four lane the existing coastal route north or for Transmission Gully. State Highway One from Picton to Christchurch, especially around Kaikoura, should not be left for another 10 years without major improvements. Other areas are still going to be waiting many years to get the improvements they really need now.”

Mr Friedlander says he will be studying Transit’s 10 year plan in more detail over the next few days but there are other obvious major concerns.

“It is hard to have confidence in these projections when Transfund has been building up large surpluses over the past few years instead of getting on with the job of investing their available funds in roads. Government policy is the cause. Transfund says it builds these surpluses to meet the cost of upcoming major projects, but this problem could be easily overcome if Transfund could run deficits occasionally. Its inability to apply perfectly acceptable business practices is causing large amounts of money to be left idle for years. Government should allow Transfund to operate in a more businesslike manner.

“And how can any region or centre be certain that Transit will stick with its 10 year plan? There have already been significant changes from the draft programme with some projects being bumped up the list, obviously as a result of political pressure. We’ve also seen political influence bring about yet another review of all roading projects worth $20 million or more for no good reason. Who’s to say we won’t see the same lobbying processes and more changes happening every year?”


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