The National Party has announced that if it is elected to govern at the general election, four-lane highways from Whangārei to Tauranga will be built at a cost of $6 billion.
However, critics have hit back, claiming the data used for the cost estimate is “laughable at best”.
The four projects are:
- Whangārei to Port Marsden - $1.3b and to start in the next one to three years.
- Warkworth to Wellsford - $2.2b and to start in the next four to 10 years.
- Cambridge to Piarere - $720 million and to start in the next one to three years.
- Tauriko West State Highway 29 - $1.9b and to start in the next four to 10 years.
National says it will not have to raise excise taxes and will fund it through the National Land Transport Fund and increased government investment.
It claims the roads will be safer and easier to drive on and this investment is necessary to strengthen the economy.
Transport Minister David Parker has responded by saying the plan was “breathtakingly misleading”.
This morning National leader Christopher Luxon told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking he “wouldn’t be taking any lessons from David Parker”.
“This is a man who wanted to spend $30 billion on light rail - we are going to scrap Auckland light rail. It’s a waste of time,” he said.
“We want roads of significance and will join up Tauranga to Whangārei, better public transport, particularly in Auckland.”
Luxon also said the party would prioritise a second tunnel in Wellington and kill the “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” campaign.
“The Mt Vic tunnel is about $2.2 billion and we want to get onto that pretty quickly,” he said.
Roads around the county would be “upgraded and properly maintained and sorted” under National he said.
“We’ve got to have some vision in this country and part of that is making sure we have a very strong roading network,” he said.
“Better roads would allow more houses to be built and give some reason for New Zealanders to stay here.”
Parker said last night: “The costs are as woefully light, as is their explanation of how they will fund these roads – the cost will be many hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars more than they are admitting,” he told TVNZ.
He described the data as old and “laughable at best”.
Despite Luxon’s claims on prices for infrastructure, official figures obtained by 1News demonstrate that National’s expense estimates are far too low.
For example, National estimates the cost of Warkworth to Wellsford at $2.2b, but officials suggest it might cost up to $4b.
According to 1News, the Greens said this kind of money should be spent on public transportation.
Luxon said even electric vehicles require adequate roads.
Others, such as Transport New Zealand, told 1News they support the initiative, claiming more road investment makes them safer while also boosting the economy.