National promises to fix Bay roading woes minus toll

A National government will provide an extra $270 million to complete Western Bay's roading network within 10 years - and tolls won't be needed.
This was the assurance given by National's transport spokesman Maurice Williamson at a public meeting in the Baypark Conference Centre last night.
Mr Williamson said in an interview before the meeting that that sort of extra funding would go "an enormously long way" to finishing the strategic roading network and fixing the gridlock in Tauranga.
"You will always be under pressure because of your growth but what it needs is a massive commitment to get the roading done," he said.
Under National's plan, the big ticket projects of Harbour Link - including the second harbour bridge and viaduct - and eastern and northern expressways, would be completed quicker and without the need for tolling.
"There's no need to toll roads which are built with public money - the funding will come out of road user charges and fuel tax. Otherwise tolling means people are paying twice," said Mr Williamson.
"Tolls only have a place if a new road is built by the private sector."
Mr Williamson said Western Bay was one of only four regions where the roading system was under real pressure - the others being Auckland, Waikato and Wellington.
National's plan was to eventually place all the money collected from fuel tax in to the roading fund. This would occur after the second term of the government.
Before that, the roading account would be topped up by increasing amounts - $100 million in the first year and an extra $100 million each year until it reaches a total of $600 million.
Over a decade, an extra $4.5 billion - or an average of $450 million a year - would have been poured in to the roading account.

At present half of the $1.2 billion a year collected from fuel tax went into the government's consolidated fund - the other half went into the roading account, with a third of that spent on new roads.
The extra funding was on top of the $366 million already committed to the Bay in the present 10-year land transport works programme.
Mr Williamson said the extra funding would be divided up according to each region's historic share of roading funding.
But motorists in areas such as Canterbury, Otago and Southland were not experiencing traffic congestion, and other regions were under such pressure that they should get more than their historic allocation.
"The Bay is a stand out for that. You have a very serious problem and if the roading work is not done the congestion will stifle the local economy," he said.
Mr Williamson said the extra roading funding would not affect the health, education and social welfare services.
"We think the financial reserves can cope with that. When you have a $7.5 billion surplus and you are taking a little bit off the top - such as $100 million a year - it doesn't have a lot of effect," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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