23 May 2012

Urgent roading changes needed, say contractors

9:12 am on 23 May 2012

Roading contractors say roads will deteriorate unless there is a radical change to the way the work is divided up and managed.

A road maintenance task force, which the Government set up last July, has issued an interim report which recommends major changes in a bid to save money.

The Government last year effectively froze the level of funding for maintaining highways and local roads for the next 10 years.

Roading New Zealand says it can live within those means - but only if the task force's recommendations are introduced as soon as possible.

The group recommends moving toward longer-term contracts, prioritising roads according to how they are used and managing the network smarter.

The report says these changes could improve efficiency by up to 20% - an improvement not seen since the late 1990s.

Contractors Federation chief executive Jeremy Sole says that's a move in the right direction - but the changes don't offer them much comfort in the short term.

Roading NZ chief executive Chris Olsen says councils need to share contracts - rather than having individual deals.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the report proves the Government was right to freeze funding in that area.