ACT has promised it would build roads more quickly with private investors and road tolls, instead of relying on taxpayer dollars, should it form a government after October’s election.
Party leader David Seymour said the system now was “woeful” as he unveiled its roading policy in Christchurch on Sunday. It which would change the way infrastructure is planned and funded by inviting private partners to build infrastructure beyond what the Government could afford.
State highways are largely funded from petrol excise duty and road user charges. Tolls can also supplement this, so a project can be started sooner. The roading network was “straining” as a result of population growth, and congestion, and potholes were slow to be repaired.
“New Zealand’s roads are woeful because nearly all new roads rely on excise tax for funding and Government debt for financing,” he said.
“If the Government cannot afford every road people want, then investors and builders from around the world will be invited to build it and toll it for a specified period before it is handed back to the Government.”
The policy also included 30-year infrastructure plans between councils and the government.
He said Penlink, in Whangaparoa, could have been built 30 years ago if the policy existed then.
“There are projects all over New Zealand that could be built sooner under this model.”
He is also pitching for a “world-class toll roading system”.
“New Zealanders will have a choice: make use of new toll roads much sooner or wait for tax-funded roads to be delivered later or never.”
ACT’s transport spokesperson, Simon Court, said existing toll roads had exceeded expectations, making shorter travel times and distances across the country. Congestion, on the other hand, cost the economy “hundreds of millions of dollars” a year, he said, because it created lost time, and wasted fuel.
“Plumbers who once did four jobs a day can now only do three because they’re stuck on the Auckland motorway network. Freight which used to take six hours to get from Lyttleton Port to Queenstown might now take seven. These costs add up and are baked into the price of everything in New Zealand,” he said.
“ACT is ambitious for New Zealand, we aspire towards a modern, thriving economy with world-class infrastructure. With private sector financing and expertise to bring projects forward, we can achieve that.”