The next National-led government will establish a dedicated fund for road sealing.
The policy was announced by Northland MP Matt King and transport spokesman Chris Bishop, who said less than 40 per cent of the country's local roads in New Zealand are sealed, but were often critical connectors for farm produce, tourism and forestry. Unsealed roads were difficult to drive on, could be dangerous, and created health hazards.
"More of our local roads should be sealed, and National will create a dedicated fund inside the National Land Transport Fund of at least $15 million per year to make this happen," he said.
"In 2016/17 and 2017/18, just $6.4 million was spent by the NZTA on road sealing, which was co-invested with local government in Waikato, Manawatu/Whanganui, Otago and Southland, so our funding represents more than a doubling in funding.
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"National will also increase the central government contribution to road sealing. At the moment, funding is allocated to regional New Zealand on a competitive basis, through co-investment with local government. The Targeted Enhanced Funding Assistance rate paid by central government varies, but the maximum is 66 per cent (in Northland). National will increase the minimum contribution of central government to 70 per cent, with 80 per cent in Northland.
That, he said, would see more kilometres sealed each year.
King said he was a strong advocate of sealing roads in the North, because he had seen first-hand the effects of unsealed roads on communities.
"Thousands of kilometres of our roads are unsealed, and we need to get on with upgrading the most important," he said.
"Councils really struggle to pay the cost of sealing roads, particularly here in the North, and it's time central government stepped up to the plate. Under National, it will do so."
The previous National government had been focused on the Roads of National Significance rather than rural roads, but the party had realised it had to do both, and this policy would make a ''huge difference." Sealing cost up to $1 million a kilometre, which was beyond the means of many councils, especially those with large areas and few ratepayers.