14 Jul 2012

Big roading projects 'drain transport coffers'

10:53 pm on 14 July 2012

A trucking industry body is worried about the pressure the country's most expensive road building programme is placing on the transport budget.

The Road Transport Forum is one of the biggest supporters of the roads of national significance programme which is costing more than $10 billion over a decade.

However says it wants roads that are fit for purpose and not gold-plated as some projects appear to have been.

It supports the Transport Agency's decision to ditch a proposed 30km expressway between Otaki and Levin, the northernmost section of the Wellington to Levin road of national significance, in favour of a SH1 ugrade, at a saving of about $300 million.

Forum chief executive Ken Shirley says this saving is significant and will free up money for other projects.

But he is still concerned that the seven roads of national significance are draining the transport coffers.

"It's actually taking all the available money and there's zero increases for renewal and maintenance.

"Roads do require renewal and maintenance money and local government's certainly feeling the pinch."

Mr Shirley says while fuel taxes and road user charges are a good system for funding run of the mill renewal and maintenance, they are not really suited to big, long term capital projects.

Its chief executive, Ken Shirley, says the seven roads are draining the transport coffers and leaving little left over for increases to important areas like road maintenance and renewal.

"The government in has to look harder - and I understand they're starting to - at ways of augmenting the Land Transport Fund with other streams of revenue, which would probably include road taxes and toll roads."