30 June 2015
A no surprises National Land Transport Programme maintains the Governments momentum in the transport sector for the next three years, but its time to set out a clear long term investment strategy for the state highway system to meet future inter-regional and intra-regional travel demand, says Stephen Selwood of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.
Three years for any major state highway project is a blink of an eye. The East-West Connection in Auckland was identified as a regional priority over three years ago, but a preferred option has only just been released for public feedback. It will be another three years before the first spade hits the ground on the main component.
Currently we have little visibility of what pressures the state highway system should expect beyond three years, where and what the pipeline is to address emerging demand.
The problem is now acute in Auckland where all available evidence demonstrates future state highway planning is inadequate to meet growth.
Multi-billion dollar investment in the Western Ring Route and elsewhere across the Auckland network gets the region to where it should have been some time last decade. It wont meet the needs of another Wellington and another Christchurch moving into Auckland over the next three decades.
What is the plan for Aucklands motorway network beyond Waterview and the East-West Connection?
The current picture is bleak with todays speeds and performance dropping significantly across the network and congestion moving into the inter-peak.
Network performance is also challenged for those regions and territories not supported by the Roads of National Significance programme.
How is the state highway programme going to promote growth and productivity in New Zealands agricultural engine room and what is the sequence of priorities?
Its time NZTA came up with a long term national state highway strategy that meets the needs of regions across New Zealand and supports economic and population growth of another one million people in Auckland," Selwood says.