National would spend $570 million extending a section of the Waikato Expressway if elected, leader Todd Muller says.

Muller revealed National's transport plan at Piarere, one of the Waikato's most notorious intersections and a section of road earmarked by National in the extension of the Expressway.

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However, Jacinda Ardern's Government axed the extension from Cambridge to Piarere when it took over in 2017.

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But Transport Minister Phil Twyford questions how Muller will pay for it given he's already proposed to cut $2 billion from the transport budget.

Under Muller's plan, the 16km section of SH1 between Cambridge and SH29 at Piarere would be two lanes in each direction.

"It will provide safety and security for these communities and send a clear signal that the National Party intends to build infrastructure as opposed to just talk about it.

"This Government took $5b out of the state highway budget for a light rail project that two weeks ago they announced [would be axed] and in the meantime, the community of Waikato has been left without clarity in terms of the next step."

"Well they have the clarity today, the National government will build the Cambridge to Piarere expressway, it will start the next term and it will be part of a nationwide approach of building really strong infrastructure that will underpin economy, growth and a recovery in this country that we all need."

National Party leader Todd Muller arrived in the Waikato yesterday and is set to make a transport policy announcement from Piarere at 11.30am today. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National Party leader Todd Muller arrived in the Waikato yesterday and is set to make a transport policy announcement from Piarere at 11.30am today. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Muller labelled the road "extraordinarily dangerous".

"I come from Tauranga, I come many times over to this part of the world, it is a sort of heart in your mouth type moment when you turn right into this traffic."

He said the corridor between Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland was extremely important and "the beating heart of the country".

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"Everyone calls it the golden triangle for a reason. It's where the majority of people live in this country and will continue to over time and we need it to be efficient and safe."

Asked about whether National would extend the expressway to Tirau, Muller said the Cambridge to Piarere stretch was the most important at the moment but they would look at "ongoing safety improvements" for that area.

He said the Government needed to share its vision and said the idea of what was in place now was too inflexible.

Muller said the public could have confidence that when National "says it will build a road the road gets built".

"We have a track record of delivering. This Government does not."

Local MPs had been talking with residents about the large number of crashes over the past few years, he said.

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Twyford labelled Muller's announcement nothing but a "ghost road".

"Once again we have the National Party announcing a ghost road – no funding, no timeframe, and no telling what they will cut to try and pay for it.

"They have already advocated for a $2b cut to the transport budget, how will they pay for this? It's just another ghost road.


"Our Government has fully funded over $5b of new roads and increased the road maintenance budget after National's years of neglect.

"These include SH1 Whangarei to Port Marsden, Penlink, Tauranga Northern Link, and Otaki to north of Levin, on top of our record investments in rail and public transport."

Twyford said the Government had already built safety upgrades along SH1 at Piarere with more to come.

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"And we have fully funded a roundabout through the NZ Upgrade Programme at the connection of SH1/SH29, which will improve safety at one of New Zealand's most dangerous intersections."

National's Hamilton East MP David Bennett has been critical of the Government's handling of the expressway, earlier labelling the axing of the extension as "shortsighted" after being an advocate of the expressway and its formation from when it was in government.

National Party leader Todd Muller with Hamilton East MP David Bennett who has been pushing for the Waikato Expressway's completion. Photo / Belinda Feek
National Party leader Todd Muller with Hamilton East MP David Bennett who has been pushing for the Waikato Expressway's completion. Photo / Belinda Feek

"It was very disappointing the Government decided not to continue that progress," he said at the announcement today, "but we're back on track now and we can put back in front of the community."

He said should National get elected, it would work in well with the completion of the Hamilton section of the expressway, due next year. He said it could be up and running by 2022.

Meanwhile, Muller has had plenty of going on during his short term as leader after overthrowing Simon Bridges.

After putting him on the back bench in his reshuffle, he's decided to bring Bridges back in from the cold and yesterday announced he would be the party's new foreign affairs spokesman after the exit of Paula Bennett.

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Bridges is now ranked 17, and Shane Reti moves up to replace Bennett as the associate drug reform spokesman, working alongside Amy Adams.

Muller has also been critical of the Government continuing to close the borders and said there was no forward visibility.