The National Party has unveiled a major plan to develop “transport for the future” if it wins power in this year’s general election.
“New Zealanders will be able to get where they want to go faster and spend less time in their cars and more time doing what they love,” party leader Christopher Luxon said. “Freight will also move more efficiently around the country, improving productivity.”
The party said the package would cost $24 billion in total. The full policy document is available here.
It would be funded by additional Government investment, reallocated money from the National Land Transport Fund, and “other innovative funding tools like value capture – where developers who benefit from new infrastructure contribute to the cost”.
As well as new four-lane highways to help link Whangārei and Tauranga, costed at $6 billion and revealed yesterday, National plans to “tackle congestion and reduce travel times” with a string of projects.
The package includes the first stage of developing Auckland’s Mill Rd into a 21.5km highway between Manukau and Drury that will run parallel to the east of State Highway 1; and an “East West Link”, a four-lane highway connecting State Highway 20 at Onehunga and State Highway 1 and Mt Wellington.
In Wellington, National would build a second Mt Victoria tunnel, while in Tasman, “the Hope Bypass will create a new route for traffic travelling on State Highway 6 through Richmond (south of Nelson), bypassing the current stretch of State Highway on Gladstone Road”.
And the Canterbury Northern Motorway will be extended from Belfast and will go through to Pegasus, bypassing Woodend.
Other projects in the package include a rapid transit network for Auckland with public transport corridors in the North West and from the airport to Botany. The Eastern Busway would also be completed, National said.
A “range of upgrades to the lower North Island train services” are also planned.
Finally, National proposes a number of rebuilds to improve resilience in flood-affected regions.
Ashburton, Queenstown, Otago, and Southland would also see their transport infrastructure upgraded.
“National’s vision is for New Zealand to become one of the world’s leading small, advanced economies and our transport plan will help drive prosperity and lift the standard of living for all New Zealanders,” Luxon said.
Chris Bishop, the party’s infrastructure spokesperson, said “National’s Transport for the Future plan will facilitate tens of thousands of new houses” in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Wellington.
Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said the move will prove “safer, faster and more reliable transport options”, as well as cutting congestion and providing more low emission transport options.
“National will scrap costly projects that are going nowhere like Auckland Light Rail and Let’s Get Wellington Moving and build a transport network that will benefit more New Zealanders,” he said.
It comes after yesterday’s announcement of the plan to link Whangārei and Tauranga with new highways was criticised by other parties.
Transport Minister David Parker said the plan is “breathtakingly misleading from the National Party”.
“The costs are as woefully light as is their explanation of how they will fund these roads,” the Labour minister said.
Greens MP Chlöe Swarbrick told Breakfast the move would actually create more congestion.
She also criticised the decision to build more roads during a climate crisis.
Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter echoed Swarbrick when the full plan was unveiled today.
“What National has proposed is completely nonsensical, and will make pollution and congestion worse,” she said.
“National promises to do more of what we’ve always done, so we will get what we have always got.
“Congestion, longer journey times, and more pollution.”
And ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden took issue with the Whangārei-Tauranga link’s cost.
But Luxon said: “A National government will rebuild the economy to reduce the cost of living, lift incomes, deliver better public services and build the infrastructure New Zealanders deserve.”