The days of the Labour Government building major new roads in New Zealand are coming to an end to help tackle climate change.
The shift has alarmed the Automobile Association and business groups who say roads are essential for the economy and communities, and investment is needed in all forms of transport.
The Greens are also unimpressed with the Government's spending priorities on transport, saying Labour is outspending the previous National Government on highways.
Outside the major roading projects under way, such as Puhoi to Warkworth, the Hamilton bypass and Wellington's Transmission Gully, the Government has just three new major roads on the books.
They are the $830 million Penlink road connecting the Whangaparaoa Peninsula with SH1 in Auckland, the first stage of Tauranga's Northern Link and a 24km highway on SH1 between Otaki and north of Levin.
Last month, the Government axed several four-lane highways it had promised 16 months earlier, including Whangarei to Port Marsden, Mill Rd in South Auckland and the second stage of the Tauranga Northern Link for scaled back improvements.
Other big roading projects, such as extending the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Pairere and the East-West link crossing Auckland's industrial heartland have fallen by the wayside.
The Government's plans to move away from roads are spelled out in a confidential Ministry of Transport document, dated May 24 this year, proactively released by the NZ Transport Agency.
In a letter to Transport Minister Michael Wood and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, the ministry said the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport signals there will be no funding for new major roads in the next 10 years.
"We are unaware of any future intentions for the Government to commit significant investment into roading projects," says a paper from the ministry, dated May 24 this year.
Wood told the Weekend Herald the ministry paper refers to the fact that the Government has broadened its focus from a singular focus to meet a wider range of objectives, including safety, maintenance and reducing emissions.
This meant future large scale roading projects will need to be assessed against the wider objectives which could mean a higher bar for some projects, he said.
Wood would not say if the Government will build Papakura to Drury stage 2, Drury to Bombay, Whangarei to Port Marsden, Tauranga Northern Link stage 2, Auckland's East-West Link, Cambridge to Pairere and any further four-laning on highways connecting Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Northland in the next 10 years.
Instead, he pointed to the Government building an alternative road after a major slip in 2017 left SH3 through the Manawatū Gorge impassable, and will build the Mt Messenger bypass in northern Taranaki in the near future.
"The Government continues to make significant investments across the transport network, including significant improvements to the roading network in the $8.9 billion NZ Upgrade Programme," said Wood.
When Labour came to office in 2017, it moved the transport dial towards safety and maintenance, but in January last year the pendulum swung back with a "New Zealand Upgrade Programme" (NZUP) containing several highway projects.
In light of increased costs - the price of Mill Rd ballooned from $1.3b to $3.5b - and a renewed focus on climate change, the programme was "rebalanced" last month to increase investment in rail, public transport, walking and cycling. The big news was a $685m cycle bridge across the Waitemata Harbour.
The Government is also working on getting light rail in Auckland back on track, costing anything up to $15b.
National's transport spokesman Michael Woodhouse said Labour is intent on strangling roading investment in an effort to see more people using public transport when more investment is needed in both.
"It is madness", he said, what the Government has in mind for Mill Rd - 130,000 more people living in Drury without the infrastructure to make it happen.
Woodhouse said National would cancel light rail in Auckland and prioritise three roading projects abandoned by the Government - Mill Rd, extending the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Pairere and stage 2 of Tauranga's Northern Link.
Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said over the next 10 years the vast majority of capital for new transport projects is tied up in highway projects when more investment is needed for low carbon alternatives and maintenance and safety improvements to the existing road network.
Between $1.5b and $2.5b a year is going into highways, "more money than the National Party was spending", she said.
The AA and others are concerned about the consequences of major growth on the outskirts of big cities without the investment in roads.
AA principal adviser Martin Glynn said there needs to be a reality check about the extent to which public transport alone can meet the needs of communities to access jobs in newly developed city areas.
"The Government recently cited climate change as one of the reasons for not proceeding with strategic new roads on the outskirts of Auckland and Tauranga. There is a very real risk that without these roads in place, more growth will lead to more congestion and more emissions."
Writing in the Herald this month, Auckland University law professor David Grinlinton said Auckland road networks will continue to be critical, saying public transport will not reach every corner of the city and simply not feasible for many people.
Auckland Business Forum chairman Michael Barnett said shutting up shop on road building will be disastrous for the city's productivity and liveability.
"Australian cities are spending record amounts on public transport, but they're also investing massively in the road network. Our leaders need to realise it's not a binary thing. You need to do both."
National Road Carriers Association chief operating officer James Smith said the Government seems fixated on private transport and thinks it does not need to build new roads because cars can be replaced by public transport, walking and cycling.
"As long as freight needs to be moved by vehicles connected to the ground we need good roads. All the congestion caused by insufficient and poor roads just adds to carbon emissions."
Civil Contractors chief executive Peter Silcock said contractors are looking for a consistent pipeline of work that does not have a lot of chopping and changing.
He also questioned the wisdom of building new houses on the edge of major cities with no investment in new roads, which, he said, are needed for buses and electric vehicles.
Major road projects
SH1 Puhoi to Warkworth. Cost $878m
SH1 Papakura to Drury stage one. Cost $655m
SH1 to SH18 Northern corridor connection. Cost $700m
SH1 Hamilton bypass. Cost $607m
Transmission Gully, Wellington. Cost $1.25b
SH1 Peka Peka to Otaki, Wellington. Cost $405m
Penlink, Auckland. Cost $830m
Northern Link stage one, Tauranga. Cost $655m
SH1 Otaki to Levin. Cost $1.5b
Axed/No plans to pursue
Mill Rd, South Auckland. Cost $3.5b
SH1 Papakura to Drury stage 2. Cost $510m
SH1 Drury to Bombay. Cost unknown
Whangarei to Port Marsden. Cost $1.3b
Tauranga Northern Link stage 2 Te Puna to Omokoroa. Cost $455m
East-West Link, Auckland. Cost $1.4b
SH1 Waikato Expressway Cambridge to Pairere. Cost unknown
SH1 Warkworth to Wellsford. Cost unknown