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Significant Economic Benefits From Eastern Link

PRESS RELEASE

12 August 2009

Significant Economic Benefits From Tauranga Eastern Link

Economic development organisation, Priority One, strongly supports the early construction of the Tauranga Eastern Link to Paengaroa, supported by toll funding. The motorway is one of the largest projects ever planned in New Zealand and will deliver immediate economic benefits to the region, as well as to New Zealand as a whole. It has been identified by the government as a road of national significance and a key driver of productivity and growth. A study commissioned in 2004 by the New Zealand Automobile Association estimated a return of $6.50 for every dollar invested in the construction of the region’s strategic roading network, of which the Tauranga Eastern Link is an integral part.

Priority One Chief Executive, Andrew Coker, says “The Tauranga Eastern Link is critical to the economic growth of Tauranga and wider Bay of Plenty. We will see increased productivity by providing a faster route to the port, which will positively impact on our exporters and our transportation sector. It will also give access to the planned industrial land at Rangiuru and Te Puke, providing opportunities to attract business and investment to the Bay and provide employment. In addition, it opens up our connection to the Eastern Bay of Plenty, where some exciting things are happening, including projected strong growth in the aquaculture industry for export markets.”

Construction of the $455 million project could commence next year if the government decides to introduce tolls to help fund the motorway. However for this to happen, support needs to be demonstrated by the Bay of Plenty community. Tolls are proposed to be $2 for light vehicles and $4 for heavy commercial vehicles. These would remain in place for 35 years or until the $100 million tolling component is repaid. For those that don’t want to pay tolls, a feasible alternative route will be available. Without toll funding, construction of the Tauranga Eastern Link will be delayed for between five and 10 years, which will seriously constrain economic growth.

A more direct route between Tauranga and Paengaroa means significant productivity gains, with traffic modelling showing that the Tauranga Eastern Link will cut 24 minutes off a return trip between Paengaroa and Te Maunga. This will provide more efficient truck movements, reduce costs and increase safety. With around 90 per cent of the 6.82 million tonnes of freight that passes through Te Puke each year heading for the Port of Tauranga, cost savings that are passed onto exporters will contribute to growth in this sector.

State Highway 2 has around 21,000 vehicle movements a day, and the section between Te Maunga and Paengaroa has the country’s second worst serious crash rate per kilometre of highway. Traffic often moves slowly, and there is no room for growth. The situation is so bad that it is already constraining the kiwifruit sector and future development at Te Puke. The motorway is also a vital element in the planned development of a satellite city the size of Nelson between Parton Road and the Kaituna River, where up to 45,000 people will be living by 2050.

Priority One strongly urges the local business community to support a tolling contribution towards the Tauranga Eastern Link in the form of submissions to www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/easternlink or telephoning 0800 835 865. Submissions close at 5pm on Friday 11 September.

ENDS


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