15 Jul 2012

Local road maintenance budget too tight - Labour

1:38 pm on 15 July 2012

Labour says the Government must urgently address the issue of flat funding for local roads.

The Transport Agency will spend $1.28 billion on maintenance and renewal for local roads in the next three years, an increase of 2.3% over the previous three-year period.

Labour's transport spokesperson Phil Twyford met five South Island councils this week, which told himthey require another $1 -$3 million over the period to maintain current standards.

Mr Twyford says the councils are facing real cuts when inflation and rising costs of bitumen are taken into account.

"The mayors in all these places have told me that they're effectively deferring maintenance or they're stretching out the resealing of the roads and the regravelling of the unsealed roads."

Mr Twyford says if maintenance and renewal work is deferred, eventually there will need to be a catch up which will prove costly.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee was not immediately available to comment.

The Transport Agency is working to find efficiencies in the roading sector to make the available money go further.

A taskforce says savings of up to 20% could be found if measures such as local authorities sharing contracts were adopted.