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Tolls acceptable as price of early road completion

Media statement Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Tolls acceptable as the price of early road network completion

Auckland needs better roads urgently and tolls are the price we will have to pay to get them, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"The proposal is no surprise because Prime Minister Helen Clark was emphatic before last year's election that Auckland could have the long planned road network completed by 2015 provided Aucklanders accepted tolls," said EMA's chief executive Alasdair Thompson.

"Tolls are commonplace throughout the first world and so long as the income from them is well in excess of their implementation and operating costs business will back the Transit proposals.

"That is, businesses will accept the tolls proposed for completing the western ring route by 2015 as the price they will have to pay for achieving more efficient use from their vehicles.

"Aucklanders traveling to and from work will reluctantly accept them as the price they have to pay to enjoy more time with their families, provided a non-toll alternative route is available when they have the time to use it.

"People will still have options on whether they use a tolled or untolled section of the road.

"Though Dr Cullen's Budget in May guaranteed all the funding for the western route for the next five years (since extended to 2012), charging a toll from next year can only accelerate the construction of the route's final big project at Waterview.

"An early completion of the western ring route will benefit the whole region, not just those who directly use it. The Allen Report (2004) found the Waterview project would benefit the region by over $4 for every dollar invested in it."

ENDS

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