National Will Bring The Congestion Crisis To An End. Or will they?
Posted: 22-Jul-2020 |

National will fix the Auckland and upper North Island congestion crisis, and get New Zealand moving again, National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

In her first major speech as Leader, Ms Collins pledged National would solve New Zealand's congestion crisis with the biggest infrastructure programme in New Zealand's history, worth $31 billion across New Zealand.

About half ($17 billion) would be invested in the upper North Island – home to half of all New Zealanders.

"Auckland and the Upper North Island are broken by congestion, worsened by the current Government's incompetence, and everyone knows it," Ms Collins says.

"Congestion means goods being delivered late to our ports, parents being late to pick up the kids from rugby practice, and a tradie only doing two, rather than four, cross-town trips per day."

To fix this, Ms Collins said National would go ahead with everything Labour has said it will do in transport – with the exception of Phil Twyford's light-rail Ghost Trains, and the probable exception of the $360 million Skypath 2 – but would go much further.

First, Ms Collins said National would connect Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways – including tunnels under the Brynderwyn and Kaimai mountain ranges – to create a genuinely integrated region of 2.5 million New Zealanders.

"National's vision is to transform the four cities to be one economic powerhouse, unlocking their potential so the upper North Island becomes Australasia's most dynamic region."

Second, Ms Collins announced National would complete Auckland's rapid transit network, including rail to the airport and new busways, as envisaged by its former mayors Sir Dove Myer-Robinson and Len Brown, and former Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee.

"One rough definition of a city is that it is a place you can get from one side to the other in an hour, or a place that the average time to get to work is 30 minutes. National will measure our progress against the goals of 30 minutes to get to work and one hour to get across the city."

Third, Ms Collins announced work towards an additional harbour crossing would begin immediately, with the intention of work beginning on the ground in 2028.

"National's Plan is that the crossing should be a tunnel or tunnels, and be for both road and rail, and new public transport technologies that come on line."

Ms Collins announced Auckland's ferry network would be expanded to reduce congestion on road and rail. National's Plan also includes new walking and cycling links as well as expanded park-and-ride facilities.

National's projects will be sequenced over the next decade and beyond, but work will also begin immediately on $300 million worth of digger-ready projects in Auckland – and throughout the country in 2021 – to fix potholes, roundabouts, and crash corners.

However, Labour disagree…

"Confirmation that National hasn't even costed the centre-piece of its transport announcement yesterday is a further sign of the shambles in the Opposition, and raises serious questions about National's competence," Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

"The Brynderwyn and Kaimai tunnels weren't just a side note to the announcement. They were literally the "first" projects Judith Collins talked about in her press release about a transport plan that she said was "worth $31 billion across New Zealand."

"National has now confirmed that they have no idea how much these projects might cost. It's hard to believe that this sort of omission would have been allowed under John Key or Bill English. It's a real shambles," Grant Robertson said.

"National is also still yet to come clean over which existing projects in the transport plan it will cancel. Yesterday it said it would reallocate $6.2 billion of money in the National Land Transport Fund. It highlighted light rail funding ($1.8 billion in the NLTF) for being cut. The question is very simple: What else will they cut to make their numbers stack up? They've already banked the money.

"In the meantime, the Government is getting on with our plans to invest in New Zealand with fully funded transport projects like today's investments in Auckland's roading and public transport network."

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