More than $100 million for investigations and property purchases for a $2 billion-plus extension to Auckland's Northern Gateway toll road has been pencilled into the Transport Agency's action programme.

A proposed 34km four-lane highway between Puhoi and Wellsford is one of seven roads of national significance the Government has promised will be "substantially advanced" within 10 years.

Although it is not among the first five such roads being readied for construction starts during the three-year term of an $8.7 billion national land transport programme made public yesterday, the agency is considering investing heavily in preparation for it.

The document includes references to $46 million of investigations, to be considered for a possible start this financial year, and $57 million for land purchases, possibly starting next year.

Further back in the programme is an estimate of $2.18 billion to build the road, although this is a "reserve" item, meaning the money is unlikely to be provided before 2012.

That budget would make the extension the country's costliest roading project, overtaking the $1.4 billion Waterview motorway project on Auckland's western ring route.

The Transport Agency's board will decide at a meeting in Avondale this afternoon whether to approve the Waterview plan.

The agency says the Puhoi-Wellsford project, which Transport Minister Steven Joyce says could be a toll road, is being proposed after the success of the $365 million Northern Gateway motorway.

The transport programme also lists more than $1 billion to start Waterview next year - subject to the board's approval - and $407 million for the Victoria Park motorway tunnel project, to start before Christmas.

Design funds have been confirmed for Tauranga's $475 million eastern link motorway, on which construction may start next year if road tolls are approved, and more than $300 million is earmarked for parts of the Waikato Expressway including bypasses at Te Rapa, Ngaruawahia and Rangiriri.

But an indication that the $217 million Penlink toll road project between Auckland's Northern Motorway and Whangaparaoa is unlikely to get any Government money this financial year has upset Rodney District Mayor Penny Webster.

She said the decision was a slap in the face for a community which had shown strong support for the project.

Mr Joyce said last night that Penlink was "certainly not off the table", but more work on assessing it was needed.

He also described as unfair a reference by Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee to the Wellsford highway as a "holiday road", saying it would be an essential link between Auckland and Northland.

Mr Lee, who chastised Mr Joyce on Wednesday for failing to produce funds for electric trains, was more conciliatory last night after learning that Auckland would receive $2.8 billion - or 32 per cent - of the national transport budget.

Although that is still less than Auckland's 34 per cent share of the national population, the agency's budget does not include the Government's promised $1 billion for the region's electric rail system.

Mr Lee acknowledged that, apart from uncertainty over $500 million for electric trains, Auckland's public transport capital projects were well supported by the programme.

"The ARC is always ready to call it as we see it and this is better than we thought it might be," he said.

He welcomed commitments of cash for seven railway station construction or upgrade projects - at Newmarket, Avondale, New Lynn, Grafton, Manukau, Kingsland and Onehunga - but said a lack of money for another at Parnell was disappointing.

The Green Party said the "loads of roads" programme, which allocated $899 million to public transport compared with more than $6.5 billion for roads, would mire New Zealand in an outdated 1950s approach to transport and gave no protection against rising oil prices, climate change, or the obesity epidemic.

But Living Streets Aotearoa, a federation of walking groups, welcomed a 31 per cent increase to $51 million over the next three years for walking and cycling as "a fantastic outcome".

MONEY HITS THE ROAD
National land transport fund: $8.7 billion over three years - 17 per cent increase
State highways$4.6 billion (up 19 per cent)
Local roads$1.9 billion (up 14 per cent)
Public transport$900 million (up 21 per cent)

Regional distributions in upper North Island:
Auckland - $2.8 billion (up 28 per cent)
Waikato - $938 million (up 32 per cent)
Bay of Plenty - $495 million (up 29 per cent)
Northland - $317 million (up 27 per cent)