Shovel-ready Projects: Nice Entrée, Now Time For Main Course
The AA is keenly waiting for the full list of infrastructure projects in the Covid-19 recovery package to be revealed, following today’s initial announcement.
The Government today identified 12 of the more than 150 projects from around the country that will be included in the $3bn fund, and broke the investment down across regions and across sectors. Details on the rest of the projects, however, were not included, as the Government undertakes “final due diligence to ensure the projects are viable and offer the benefits stated by applicants.”
AA Principal Advisor Barney Irvine welcomed the initial projects, and the Association is pleased to see that $700mn has been earmarked in the fund for transport infrastructure.
“But the big question for us, and for other stakeholders, is whether the projects we put up to the Fund have made the cut.”
In particular, the AA wants to know whether the two national programmes it had called for – a five-pronged road safety programme, and a big increase in investment in road maintenance – have been included.
“Investment in these areas is an excellent way to deliver infrastructure that really matters to everyday Kiwis, achieves the Government’s transport objectives, and generates jobs.
“In our view, these are critical projects, but until we see the full list, we’ve got no idea of whether or not they’re part of the mix. We’ve had a nice little entrée – now it’s time for the main course.”
The AA had also recommended a list of local transport projects from all parts of the country – based on feedback from the AA’s district representatives – that could be covered by the Fund, and the AA will be very keen to see which of these are going forward.
Along with the full list of projects, Barney says, stakeholders need information about timing of delivery, and alignment with other infrastructure programmes (especially the NZ Upgrade Programme).
“It’s about making sure there’s a proper strategy around all of this, so we know the investment is well coordinated and that we’re making the most of the opportunity,” says Barney.
In road safety, the AA recommends five separate initiatives:
1. Electronic speed signs outside all New Zealand schools
2. Adding 200km of median barriers on state highways every year for five years
3. Upgrading highways that have a two-star safety standard to at least three-star rating
4. Engineering work to support safer speeds
5. Installing at least 20 new red light cameras in main centres (outside Auckland)
In road maintenance, the AA wants to see an increase in investment nation-wide. There is an undeniable link between the quality of the road surface and improved road safety. AA surveys show that, around the country, Members are feeling increasingly concerned about the declining quality of the road network.