Tauranga could end up with three toll roads surrounding the city while other parts of New Zealand have none.

The suggestion from a New Zealand Transport Authority report, released under the Official Information Act, has been labelled "wrong" and "unfair" by city leaders.

The documents show the agency is considering introducing tolls on four uncompleted roads nationally – including the yet to be built Tauranga Northern Link.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges says toll roads are fine but having three in Tauranga would be
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges says toll roads are fine but having three in Tauranga would be "wrong". Photo / File

Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber said he accepted tolling was a tool to help speed up the building of state highways but questioned how fair it was.


The Western Bay already has two of New Zealand's three toll roads with Route K (Takitimu Drive) and the Tauranga Eastern Link, which have been tolled from 2003 and 2015 respectively.

"There's no doubt these roads have brought significant benefit, particularly in terms of efficiency and safety.

"However, it's hard to reconcile the Western Bay sub-region could end up with another toll road while other large-scale roading network upgrades and improvements in Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury have been progressed without tolling," Webber said.

The report identified Tauranga Northern Link, Transmission Gully, Puhoi to Warkworth, and Petone to Grenada as roads suited for tolling.

It also showed the Tauranga Northern Link had the best benefit-cost ratio at 3.1 untolled, dropping to 1.3 with a toll, followed by Transmission Gully at 1.6 untolled and 1.1 tolled.

Tauranga MP and former Minister of Transport Simon Bridges echoed Webber's concern.

Bridges was Minister of Transport during the creation and maintenance of Tauranga's two existing toll roads but said he was not aware of the agency's plans for the northern link until now.

"It isn't that there is an issue with tolling per se because tolling is legitimate, case by case, but the numbers of toll roads here versus the rest of New Zealand make it wrong."

Labour list MP Jan Tinetti agreed.

"The fact we have so many tolls already, you look at the other Roads of Significance, like in the Waikato and the roads being built there. They don't have the same infrastructure costs put on the local people.

"I know they have to be paid somehow but ... certainly the toll road option just doesn't seem very fair."

Tinetti said she will voice her concerns to Minister of Transport Phil Twyford. The minister declined to comment yesterday.

Outcomes of the Tauranga Northern Link tolling investigation were not expected until mid-2018.

A paper to the agency's investment and operations board committee in March showed the four roads met criteria for tolling, such as making sure the fee did not deter motorists from using the road, that there was an alternative route, and that it was in line with the Government's objectives.

Tolls on those roads could raise more than $28 million of extra land transport revenue a year, which would rise over time with increased road use and economic activity, and could be seen as a "step towards a modern road pricing system", the paper said.

At a March board meeting, agency directors supported an intention to toll, subject to ministerial approval.

- additional reporting Business Desk