The AA is calling on the Government to bring forward critical highway projects while developing plans for a rapid transit system in Auckland.

"There are a number of desperately needed State Highway safety projects around the country that have been unable to proceed due to a lack of funds," says AA principle adviser on infrastructure Barney Irvine.
"Part of the reason for that is the Government earmarked nearly $470m in the 2018-21 transport budget for rapid transit, but an announcement at the Building Nations Symposium in Rotorua last week has confirmed that construction on light rail in Auckland won't be starting until sometime beyond 2020," he says.

Some of the leading contenders would be bringing forward upgrades to high-risk stretches of highway like SH2 between Tauranga and Waihi, SH1 from Otaki to Levin, SH1 from Whangarei to Marsden Point, or SH58 in Wellington.

"These are all projects that were re-evaluated by NZTA and found to be needed and in line with the Government's priorities for improving safety and resilience," says Barney.

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"The local authorities are calling for them to happen as quickly as possible, the local communities want them to happen as quickly as possible, and these highways have some of the highest rates of deaths and injuries in the country. The only handbrake has been the lack of funding to advance them quickly.

"The rapid transit delay in Auckland reflects that the project is much more complex than many had imagined when commitments were first made.
The AA expects that the extra time will result in much more clarity about what the project is seeking to achieve, how much it will cost, and what benefits it will deliver.
"But, with that work taking longer, let's make some of our most dangerous highways safer now."

So far this year 224 people have died in crashes.