NZTA only consulted 3 months ago on the Govt's new infrastructure spend; Planned roading projects among those it wants funded; National says Govt is 'scrambling'

NZTA only consulted 3 months ago on the Govt's new infrastructure spend; Planned roading projects among those it wants funded; National says Govt is 'scrambling'
Image sourced from Wikimedia

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) wants some of the Government’s newly announced infrastructure spend to go towards planned roading projects canned when it took office.

The NZTA's chair, Brian Roche, told Parliament’s Transport and Infrastrastructure Committee on Thursday, the agency has been advising Treasury on how additional funding should be spent.

On Wednesday Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced an extra $6.8 billion will be put towards transport infrastructure, including roads and rail, over at least the next five years.

NZTA’s interim chief executive, Mark Ratcliffe, said some of the 12 roading projects that had been planned, but tossed out due to a lack of funding, in part stemming from the Coalition Government directing the agency to focus more on rail, were among those it suggested be funded.

These include Whangarei to Te Hana, the East West Link, SH1 Cambridge to Piarere, SH2 Pokeno to Mangatarata, SH29 Piarere to Tauriko, SH2 Waihi to Omokoroa, SH2 Te Puna to Omokoroa and Tauranga Northern Link, SH2 Katikati urban, SH29 Tauriko West network, SH1 Otaki to Levin, SH1/2 Petone to Grenada and the SH2 Melling interchange.

NZTA consulted 3 months ago

The decision on how the $6.8b will be spent rests with Cabinet. The NZTA only started providing advice to Treasury three months ago.

“We’re as keen as anybody to hear what they [the projects] are going to be,” Ratcliffe told interest.co.nz.

He wouldn’t be drawn on which projects NZTA suggested be given priority.

He stressed the agency suggested the funding be used across a range of modes of transport, saying: “We’re not the state highway zealots that we’re painted out to be.”

When this was put to Robertson, he said: “Certainly, it would be no surprise that NZTA would be recommending projects that they’ve looked at in the past…

“There are some I’s to dot and T’s to cross, but we’ve made decisions on the projects we want to fund.”

Government ‘scrambling’

National’s transport spokesperson Chris Bishop, who quizzed Roche and Ratcliffe in the Committee, tweeted: “So in other words having cut the state highway budget by $5 billion and delayed these important projects, the government is now going to borrow cash to [possibly] fund some of them.

“Shame about the 2+ years of delay and the chaos this has caused to the sector.”

Bishop said the Government was “scrambling”, having realised it made a mistake shifting its focus from highways.

Giving NZTA the money never an option

Speaking to interest.co.nz, Ratcliffe said it was never an option for the $6.8b to be used to top up the National Land Transport Fund - giving NZTA the power to choose how the funding is invested.

The Fund is funded by transport users through fuel excise duties, road user charges, motor vehicle registrations, licensing fees and other Crown revenue.

While governments provide high level guidance on how the Fund should be spent, the system is designed to be relatively apolitical to provide consistency across electoral cycles.

Asked if he would’ve preferred it if the Government gave the $6.8b to the NZTA to administer, Ratcliffe said: “I think we’re just grateful there’s more money being invested. How it comes to us really doesn’t matter.

“The critical thing is that we’ve got a bigger level of investment.”

Roche told the Committee the funding boost will “put us under pressure, and pressure is good”.  

Asked why he wasn’t letting the experts at NZTA call the shots on the new infrastructure spend, Transport Minister Phil Twyford acknowledged: “The great majority of transport projects that are funded in this country are done through the National Land Transport Programme with NZTA making those decisions under the guidance of government policy statements…

“From time-to-time, governments will add to that by doing extra things. The former government for instance announced the package of regional highway projects.”

The infrastructure projects will be announced in 2020 - election year.

Tension in the background

NZTA’s relationship with Twyford has appeared strained.

Its failure to consider an unsolicited, and reportedly expensive and complex, bid by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Canadian institutional investors to build light rail in Auckland, to the Government’s satisfaction, prompted Twyford to pass the job on to the Ministry of Transport and Treasury.

Roche acknowledged in the Committee that staff turnover at the NZTA had been high, admitting the agency had “lost its way”.

He expected to see a turn-around in the next 12 to 18 months.

Five new members were appointed to the NZTA board in September and a new chief executive, Nicole Rosie, will start in mid-February.

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36 Comments

The road south from Cambridge to Piarere is shocking!!!
Its almost a monthly headline in the local rag that
there's been another crash at Lake Karapiro.

It's the driving, impatient and aggressive, that's at fault, the road is actually fine

By what Christmas will we see the completion of NCITR.

After a month driving around England and Europe and have to agree, kiwis are absolute ar...holes on the roads and the quality of the cars they drive is pretty poor.

Grumpy,

My Kiwi wife and I recently spent 2 months in the UK and had a car for 3 weeks, during which time we covered a lot of ground. After about a week, she commented on just how much better-mannered and tolerant drivers were.
Within the first couple of days back at the Mount, we saw more bad and inconsiderate driving than we had seen during the whole of our time in the UK. I have lived here for the past 16 years and have found the general standard of driving to be poor and very often, aggressive.

Our roads are definitely filled with dickheads. You only need to look at any driving related social media comments section to see the mentality.

It's not uncommon to see people blaming "slow drivers" for their "part" in serious/fatal crashes. It seems everyone in New Zealand is an expert at stomping pedals/turning a steering wheel and everyone else is a sloth behind the wheel. This mentality is the biggest killer on our roads.

Like it or not, impatience and aggression is often triggered by slow drivers. People aren't going to suddenly become 'patient', only solution really is to two lane the state highways.

Ok so we build a bunch of new roads and we keep importing people like there is no tomorrow, how long before we are looking down the barrel of having to do it all over.
There must be another way.

It's like the powers at be have forgotten how to manage project funding, run a programme and manage a portfolio.
Project governance.
What a group of ill skilled folk pulling the levers.

Health and safety + extreme efforts to minimize all environmental impacts and placate Nimbies and moaners. NZ now has more traffic cones per head of population than any other country to appease the Safety Elves and a worsening road system with ever increasing travel times. Mowing motorway verge now requires an entourage of several safety vehicles and costs $800/hour again to appease the safety elves. Safety elves and those that empower them never stop to consider the economics of their regimes. So the west slowly shuffles to paralysis with moldering inadequate infrastructure that safety elves and other cost-disease regulations prevent us from fixing and upgrading - Eg California now has 3rd world electricity supply.

At least California didn't get intermittent power supply and the most homeless in the US by following backwards conservative ideas, they are very progressive and progressed their way into the current state, and I support progressives, we need to all be progressive.

Does no one including Mediocre Troll realise that the democratic states are subsidising the republican states in the USA?

Nor remember the mess that was caused in California's electricity through a certain company coming out of Texas?

Aside from that, debt and deficits are good when Trump is using and enlarging them, but bad when it's a blue state? Wowee...the ideological gymnastics...

Agree...everything seems to need to be banned by someone. The outrage at Lime scooters, for example! The horror!

If we're going to have a govt building roads and committed to high immigration as well, and therefore forever chasing our tails in improving transport infrastructure, we might as well have National in charge.
As Simon Bridges told the Herald's Simon Wilson: "We're the party of roads. We know how to do this stuff."

10
up

A few months ago, I would've totally lashed out on your comment but I am starting to see merit in such an argument.
Look at how the last couple of years have gone for the average Kiwi: PAYE cuts cancelled, rents and rates through the roof, migration still rampant (arguably worsening due to rising Kiwi emigration rates), housing shortage widening, basic living costs still outpacing wages and cities more crammed than ever. Each year the average worker is also expected to pay a larger amount of their real income in income tax due to bracket creep.

Welfare recipients and high net-worth individuals are the only ones benefiting from the coalition's low growth-low public investment-high migration economic model.

You seem to have forgotten about getting rid of all the guns, nobody needs those guns and a just society means you can only have what you need. If you are working you don't need all your money so why would you get a PAYE cut¿

FYI the ban on guns received bipartisan support with 120 out of 121 MPs voting in favour of the amendment.

If you are working you don't need all your money so why would you get a PAYE cut¿

Forget PAYE cuts, what about adjusting our income tax brackets for inflation creep.

In 2010, a median earner making 38k a year paid 13% of their income as PAYE, the number has now creeped up to 17% on the 53k median wage, That sounds like a benign 4pp but is a 81% increase in dollar terms over a 9 year period. If this isn't a tax hike by stealth to fudge up a 'meaningless' budgetary surplus, I don't know what is.

And here team Ardern is blaming electricity and fuel retailers for fleecing average Kiwis.

They won't like it pointed out that they were the party who tried to cancel the Waterview tunnel until opposition to that tack forced them to allow it to go ahead.

"These include Whangarei to Te Hana, the East West Link, SH1 Cambridge to Piarere, SH2 Pokeno to Mangatarata, SH29 Piarere to Tauriko, SH2 Waihi to Omokoroa, SH2 Te Puna to Omokoroa and Tauranga Northern Link, SH2 Katikati urban, SH29 Tauriko West network, SH1 Otaki to Levin, SH1/2 Petone to Grenada and the SH2 Melling interchange."
These all are within the North Island, SI completely forgotten or haven't they got any roading issues. And most are auckland tauranga whangarei routes. Population growth will be centered in these areas

You'd think they would have at least added the Christchurch to Ashburton double lane highway. Not very inclusive, is it?

You could write to Jacinda about the abyamal safety standards on SI roads.
It's unlikely that she'll do anything about it but will surely offer free hugs to the family of road accident victims.

The transport minister is Phil Twyford, need I say more ? Thank God the Northern motorway was started before this lot got in or they would have canned that as well. The next election is not far away, perhaps some on here need to think hard before you put these clowns back in.

Worst Govt ever. I’m no fan of Helen but her Govt was a dream team compared to this lot.

I liken us to the Americans under Trump thinking now how George W Bush wasn’t so bad.

my choice
Whangarei to auckland 4 laning all the way
then start at Cambridge and work towards taupo same thing
and from wellington start that end and start upwards.
you should plan so as each section is coming to an end the workers can move to the next bit that way you will have decades of work for them and families, for a country of our age how we do not have a major 4 lane highway for top to bottom is a ?
what a shame we sold the MOW most likely all would have been done by now

I'd do that as well as running a rail spur all the way down to the main street of Taupo while you're at it. If we're serious about this rail tourism thing then let's get really serious. The Rotorua/Taupo line keeps getting brought up every few years - would need a lot of work to make it happen but it would actually add a destination to our rail network.

The anti public transport brigade keep telling us that we will have automated cars very soon so no need to build anything.
If cars are automated then we won't need 4 lanes will we?

Driverless cars will still need lanes to drive in, and you'll still need to accommodate the lowest common denominator i.e. a large extended family driving a bongo van or similar at 70 in the fast lane.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to build roads specially for driverless cars rather than trying to mix the two?

Whangerei to Tauranga and Tauranga to Hamilton , Christchurch to Timaru 4 laning (roads are really cheap to build in canterbury due to flat dry well drained land). Waterview to central Birkenhead tunnel under the Waitemata. Auckland East-West Link. Maybe do immersed road tunnels along coasts and harbours throughout Auckland - they are invisible and use minimal land. 2-4Billion for Onslow pumped storage (about 1GW year of storage) and a whole lot of PV (will be needed for EV's in 10 years).

Looking at the photo above there seems plenty of space to make a fourth lane (+ bus) simply by getting rid of the shoulder the right and making each lane a little narrower.

Motorists aren't race car drivers. You can't run them too close to concrete barriers for too long.

Let's just vote National back in and get things done

Yeah they are real good at building things we need like houses and public transport.

About as good as the lot who were all about doing stuff were about actually getting stuff done?

I guess you would need to give that lot another 7 years to find out who is best (or worst). 2 years isn’t a long time to build infrastructure although a bit more progress would have been good.

Once again it's about leadership, or the lack of it, to be more precise. Winston Peters brought this lot into power to achieve his vengeful agenda. He is fully responsible for everything that has happened (or not) in the last 2 years. This lot were never ready to govern & never will be. They are essentially hopeless. To expect anything different in the next 12 months is to fool yourself. Well, it might be different, but my guess is that it will probably get worse.

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