The four-lane highway from Whangarei to Tauranga may be the eye-catching part of National’s new infrastructure plan but it is arguably the significant rail upgrades and busway projects that could have the biggest impact on Aucklanders says the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA).
National Party leader the Hon Judith Collins announced a comprehensive and far reaching infrastructure plan with an emphasis on Auckland but highlighted by a four-lane highway from Whangarei to Tauranga with new tunnels through the Brynderwyn Hills and the Kaimai Ranges.
“That road plan north would be very welcome by our members in Whangarei and the Far North as it opens a true gateway for significant expansion in the north, particularly in the horticultural and manufacturing sectors,” says EMA Chief Executive Brett O’Riley (pictured).
“But we are most excited about the announced plans for public transport. It is the rail links in Auckland, the third and fourth main lines, rail to the airport, completing links from the airport to Onehunga -supported by rapid buses to the CBD – and electrification to Pokeno and other proposed new rail links that are game changers.
‘These initiatives could take significant freight volumes off the motorway networks, enhance commuter options and provide a genuine fast-rail link from the city to the airport and Hamilton, driving productivity gains across the regional economy.
“Electrification to Pokeno and new services to West Auckland would service rapid residential growth. Completing the Eastern Busway and building a North-Western busway should have similar impacts for commuters as the highly successful Northern Busway. A second Waitemata crossing has long been identified as a priority and planned ferry upgrades take advantage of the harbour as a key transport link.”
National’s plan also includes funding changes that would allow the Transport Agency to borrow more and carry more debt on its balance sheet to help get past the pay-as-you-go approach New Zealand currently adopts in funding infrastructure upgrades.
“As an example of that approach commuters south of Auckland have endured years of crawling through roadworks at the SH1 Takanini upgrade project and as that project is completed the pain is about to be moved a few kilometres south to Drury and Papakura,” says Mr O’Riley.
“It’s also good to see the critical East/West project back on the agenda as this link between the Onehunga industrial precinct and the southern and south-western motorway is another long-term urgent project for Auckland that the EMA has supported.
“Overall National’s plan creates a genuine transport spine for the “Golden Triangle” from Whangarei via Auckland through Hamilton and onto Tauranga with major and much needed projects in and around all of those cities. That’s a significant investment in the EMA’s region and will help facilitate the economic growth and productivity gains that New Zealand needs.”
Key projects in National’s upper North Island Infrastructure Package include:
Connecting the upper North Island
– Building an expressway between Warkworth and Wellsford
– Building the Hamilton Southern Links project
– Building the Cambridge to Piarere extension of the Waikato expressway
– Upgrading State Highway 29 to an expressway between Piarere and the Kaimai Ranges
– Upgrading State Highway 2 between Tauranga to Katikati, including the Tauranga
– Upgrading State Highway 1 between Ruakaka to Wellsford (including a tunnel under the Brynderwyn Hills)
– Upgrading the State Highway 29 route from Tauranga to the Kaimai Range including a tunnel through the range.
– Constructing a Fourth Main Rail Line in addition to the Third Main Line
– Constructing the East West Link
– Delivering Bus Rapid Transit from Onehunga to the CBD
– Building Northwest Bus Rapid Transit
– Building the Puhinui to Airport Rail Link
– Building rail from Onehunga to Auckland Airport
– Electrifying the rail line to Pōkeno in Waikato
– Adding a diesel rail shuttle to Huapai
– Starting work on the Second Waitematā Harbour Crossing
– Adding funding to upgrade Auckland’s Ferry Network
– Introducing additional funding for Auckland Local Board priorities
– Investigating electrification of rail to Kumeu
– Investigating rail between Avondale and Southdown.