Expressways more than 10 years away despite funds
19 May 2006
Waikato and Maramarua Expressways more than 10 years away despite Waikato funding boost
The additional $215 million funding boost for Waikato roads is great news for the region but completion of SH1 Waikato and SH2 Maramarua expressways is still more than ten years away despite the extra money, says NZCID CEO Stephen Selwood.
The latest Transit NZ projections show four laning SH1 Auckland to Hamilton, the Waikato Expressway, has a total cost of $835 million. Four laning the Maramarua Expressway on SH2 from Bombay to Maramarua is $367 million. That's a total requirement of $1.2 billion for the two corridors.
This means that even if all of the additional $215 million over ten years was committed to the expressway projects, there would still be a $1 billion shortfall.
The record to date shows that far too many people have already lost their lives or been seriously injured on these substandard roads.
The risk of inadequate funding is that the network will continue to be developed in a piecemeal fashion, with sections of high quality dual lane highway intermixed with poor quality single lane carriageway.
Past experience has shown that this kind of mixture has serious consequences from a road safety point of view.
Ten years is simply too long to bring these roads up to the standard necessary to meet the traffic volumes they carry.
These two corridors are vital strategic links of national importance.
The Waikato region has 16 per cent of the country's state highway network, carries 20 per cent of commercial freight, and is one of the fastest growing commercial centres, along with Auckland and Tauranga.
Strategic state highway links between the nations most productive regions should be of the highest quality
It would be far better to advance the projects through additional debt funding and totally complete the corridors inside a much shorter time frame. If the government is not prepared to finance it, there are plenty of private sector firms that would be pleased to make the investment.
That's what most comparable countries are doing. New Zealand should follow suit, Selwood says.