Industry welcomes new road maintenance funding

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 8, 2021

Civil Contractors New Zealand is welcoming the Government’s three-year, $24.3 billion investment into New Zealand roads.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency unveiled the National Land Transport Programme 2021-24 featuring more than a 24% increase in State Highway and local road maintenance.

Public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure also received a major boost, rising 40% to nearly $6 billion, while the Road to Zero safety plan got around $2.9 billion.

Civil Contractors New Zealand is welcoming the investment.

Chief executive Peter Silcock said it was ‘fantastic’ to see road maintenance funding rise to a more appropriate level to keep the roads safe and in good condition and allow maintenance companies to rebuild capability and capacity.

“Road maintenance funding announced today has finally reached the minimum level it should have held over the past decade,” he said.

“That’s great, but it’s not enough to allow us to catch up with the backlog created by the ‘sweat the asset’ approach taken over the past decade.

“To achieve safe, well-maintained roads we must invest in getting the network back up to scratch, then maintain funding that scales with the network and allows for the impacts of more frequent severe weather events, increased traffic flow and population growth.”

Silcock said the government should be commended for its $2 billion boost from central Government coffers to top up the 2021-24 National Land Transport Fund, with the shortfall largely due to limited funding sources and an increasing range of projects and transport modes being brought under the umbrella of the National Land Transport Programme.

He said the fall in National Land transport Fund income from road user charges and petrol tax was likely to continue, and this demonstrated the need for a long-term vision to sustainably fund improvement and maintenance of the country’s transport networks in different ways.

Silcock said a longer-term funding approach should be considered to avoid ‘piecemeal’ transport infrastructure construction and provide increased continuity of work needed for contractors to invest in capability and capacity.

“It’s very important we have a steady workflow. While we’re glad this has been recognised in current work plans, we welcome further initiatives to provide continuity of work for the country’s infrastructure constructors, and better transport outcomes for New Zealand.”

The AA is welcoming the Government’s decision to provide additional funding to revitalise road maintenance across the country.

“Well maintained roads are safer roads – the extra investment will bring safety benefits now and in the future,” said AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon.

Road maintenance impacts a vehicle’s grip with the road, its risk of skidding and the driver losing control.

Improving road maintenance is the number one action that the AA has called on the Government to take in recent times.

According to the AA’s annual surveying, AA members have ranked road surface quality (e.g. potholes) as their greatest transport concern for the last four years. This issue ranked ahead of other transport concerns like congestion, speed, parking, and road policing.

“Roads need regular repairs and renewal to keep them at the standard they should be,” Noon said.

“There simply hasn’t been enough funding to do that for many years, and the public has noticed our state highways and local roads becoming more difficult and more dangerous to drive on.”

He said the increase in funding will ease some of the pressure rising costs have put on Waka Kotahi and mean they can deliver more of the maintenance work everyone wants to see.

“This further investment in road maintenance makes sense in terms of safety and can provide an economic boost as we come out of lockdown,” Noon said.

“Road maintenance projects deliver excellent value for money, they’re needed up and down the country and they can start without delay. Investment in road maintenance creates jobs, improves road safety, and delivers transport benefits that really matter to our communities.”