The AA says resuscitated roads are vitally needed

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJanuary 31, 2020

New Zealand‘s Automobile Association says motorists around the country will be welcoming the Government‘s announcement of multiple major roading projects being resuscitated.

“New Zealand is in desperate need of more modern highways in many places and it is great news that the Government is responding to that,” says AA principal infrastructure adviser Barney Irvine.

“The AA has fought for many of these roads because of the benefits they will deliver in safer travel, less delays and more resilience to extreme events.”

Some of the key roading projects that the AA is particularly glad to see progress are:

  • The Tauranga Northern Link, and SH2 between Te Puna and Omokoroa

  • SH1 between Otaki and Levin

  • SH1 between Whangarei and Marsden Point

“Those three highways have been some of the highest risk roads in the country for decades. The two stretches of SH1 and SH2 from west of Tauranga to Katikati had 35 fatal crashes and 62 serious crashes between them over five years.

“Other recent expressway projects like in Waikato and Kapiti have shown that once a new, modern highway is built the fatal crashes all but disappear and serious crashes drop significantly as well.”

Safety and decongestion benefits will also come from projects like Penlink and Mill Rd in Auckland, and the Melling interchange and SH58 improvements in Wellington.

The only sour note for the AA in the programme is that the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere is not included.

“This is a missed opportunity to make the most of the investment that‘s already gone into the Waikato Expressway, and to support road safety and economic growth in Waikato, and the Upper North Island as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Irvine says the announcement brings much-needed balance to transport investment, after funding for building and maintaining roads has been under pressure over the last couple of years due to more transport spending going into other areas.

“Recently there has been an unfortunate tendency to frame transport investment as a clash between roads and other modes,” says Irvine.

“Actually we need to be investing in all of transport – roads and public transport and cycling and walking.

“Driving is still the main way that people and goods move around in New Zealand and it‘s crucial that we keep investing in upgrading the many roads around the country that aren‘t up to the standard they should be.”