21 Mar 2014

Roads promotion budget revealed

5:14 am on 21 March 2014

Large sums are being spent on promoting the government's Roads of National Significance to affected communities.

Figures obtained through the Official Information Act show the Transport Agency spent $2.13 million in the 2012-2013 financial year on communications for the seven projects.

Those figures include open days, newsletters, advertising and what the agency calls general stakeholder engagement, though there is no breakdown of what is spent on each activity.

Wellington's northern corridor including Transmission Gully has had the most spent on communications in the last financial year with a $377,000 outlay. This is in addition to $3 million already spent on PR for these projects that run from Wellington airport to Levin.

Auckland's Western Ring Route comes in second place with $770,000 spent in the 2012-2013 financial year on top of $1 million already spent in this area.

The Waikato Expressway comes in third ($690,000), in addition to $1.1 million spent earlier on community engagement, including, in the three years leading up to 2012, $40,000 on a 3D flyover for the Waikato Expressway and $430 for branded umbrellas.

The figures do not include the 21 permanent staff the Transport Agency employs to carry out communications work.

An answer to a Parliamentary question last year revealed it spent $2 million to employ these workers, up slightly on the amount it spent the year before. The agency also spent $9500 on outside help with drafting media releases on its Waikato Expressway project.

In a statement, an agency spokesperson said these are not discretionary 'PR' activities and are a fundamental part of it doing its job properly. The spokesperson said this sort of community engagement is a legal requirement for such roading projects and helps with their efficient delivery.