National claims Wellington’s $7.4 billion transport plan is on life support after Treasury documents warned there might not be enough money in the pot to fully pay for it.
But the Transport Minister says he has been upfront about the plan also needing money from the Government outside of the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).
Treasury’s Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update, which was released earlier this month, said it was initially expected Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) could be paid for from the fund.
But costs have since increased, the document said.
“As the NLTF is currently under significant pressure, it is possible that the Government will be asked to contribute funding to LGWM. The ability to deliver LGWM in full also relies on local government providing its own share.”
The Government announced its preferred option for LGWM in June. It includes removing private vehicles from the Golden Mile, a second Mt Victoria tunnel, and light rail to the city’s southern suburbs.
Local government will pay 40 per cent of the cost and central government will pay 60 per cent.
National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown said LGWM was another victim of rising inflation.
“The Government’s inability to deliver any significant projects in Wellington has seen Let’s Get Wellington Moving go onto life support. With cost pressures rising to unsustainable levels, the taxpayer has to fork out more money with little to show for it.”
Brown said despite having spent more than $77 million on LGWM, all that has been achieved since 2015 is millions of dollars for consultants, a few intersection improvements, and a slower road to Wellington airport.
A controversial new signalised pedestrian crossing on State Highway 1, on the way to the airport, was meant to have opened by Christmas.
However, a local said yesterday that covers were over the lights and a few road cones were still about.
LGWM’s website has been updated to say the crossing is now expected to open next month.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Government was upfront about money being needed outside of the NLTF as part of the decision to go ahead with its preferred LGWM option.
Treasury officials will report back to Cabinet early next year with a plan to fund billions of dollars’ worth of mass rapid transit across the country’s three biggest cities, including Wellington.
“We need to work out what is a rational and consistent and equitable way of the Crown supporting that investment across those different regions,” Wood said.
“Agencies are developing a consistent framework to fund these projects. This includes options such as value capture and other tools, which can potentially provide the funding streams required and which complement the investments we’re making.”
Wood said it was inevitable for a project of this scale to spend money on planning, engagement, design and consenting before there could be spades in the ground.
He said more significant progress on transport projects has been delivered in Wellington under this Government than any other in recent decades.
“It is not surprising that National are attacking Let’s Get Wellington Moving as they ignored Wellington for nine years while in office and would do so again.
“Simeon Brown’s hatred of any measures to reduce transport emissions is well known and would take our country backwards at exactly the time we need to give people more transport choices to reduce congestion and carbon emissions.”