07 March 2006

Waikato wants more roads money

Well of course it does - you see moving from a benefit/cost funding approach for roads to a more "strategic" or politically defined funding framework has meant Auckland has gained and Waikato has lost. Many Waikato projects are relatively low cost compared to Auckland projects, and have quite high benefits, but the government decided votes were in Auckland - and granted $900 million of Crown funding for Auckland transport over 10 years. Wellington has been granted $480 million so far, with another $405 to come if there is agreement on the Western Corridor roading option.
The answer? Well the Nats have half of it - instead of granting sums of taxpayers money to fund regional transport on an adhoc basis, shift petrol tax from the Crown account to the National Land Transport Fund, and insist that Land Transport NZ fund projects on a benefit/cost priority basis, with no projects below a threshold of 2.0. Shifting 9c/l immediately would have no net fiscal effect if you use it to replace the special Crown funding for transport in Auckland, Wellington, Bay of Plenty and for state highways. The remaining 9.8c/l could be moved over in a four year period, to avoid fueling more inflation.
and some Waikato projects aren't worth doing in the next ten years - a Hamilton eastern bypass? There already is a western one, which the region wants around $250 million spent on (and it is worthwhile)- the benefit/cost ratio of the eastern one is no higher than 1:1 at best. It is time to stop this Think Big approach to roads - most of the projects worth doing are relatively small and fix blackspots and pinchpoints. They don't get much publicity, but every year they save more lives and reduce delays for far more bang for your buck than most really big projects.

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