National’s Bay of Plenty transport plans could create 6500 jobs, commission chair Anne Tolley says

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The former National Party minister now in charge of Tauranga City Council’s commission says the party’s announcement about four-laning key highways to Tauranga would help create at least 6500 jobs.

Commission chairwoman Anne Tolley said in a statement while there was a need for more detail about the timeframes and costs of the proposal, it was a good fit with the council’s desire to remove the State Highway 29 chokepoints affecting freight and traffic movement to the city and Port of Tauranga from Tauriko and the central North Island.

On Monday, the National Party announced its roading policy, promising that if elected, it would spend $6 billion through the National Land Transport Fund on four-laning four roads from Whangārei to Tauranga. This included spending $1.9 billion four-laning State Highway 29 at Tauriko West within the next four to 10 years.

Under the proposal, the Bay of Plenty could expect delivery of stage two of the Takitimu Northern Link from Te Puna to Ōmokoroa. It was also expected to upgrade SH29 around Tauriko into a grade-separated, four-lane road to improve transit times and accommodate extensive housing growth.

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“The SmartGrowth councils and partners recently endorsed a Waka Kotahi business case to redevelop SH29 which would have a profound positive effect on the region’s economy,” Tolley said.

“This project would link directly to the four-lane highway system proposed by National and apart from delivering significant transport network improvements, would also unlock 20,000-plus new homes and facilitate at least 6500 extra jobs. That SH29 development is crucial for the city and it needs to be delivered significantly faster than the 2050 timeframe set out in the current business case.”

Tolley said the Waka Kotahi plans for SH29 were “crucial” but also needed to be delivered “significantly faster than the 2050 timeframe” the transport agency proposed.

In a collective council and SmartGrowth meeting in June, the staged delivery of Waka Kotahi plans was heavily criticised by city leaders who shared the view that the region needed swifter action. Despite this, there was unanimous support for the transport agency’s proposed $2.6 billion Tauriko overhaul.

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After the meeting, the transport agency’s Jess Andrew told the Bay of Plenty Times the reason for the 2050 timeframe was to allow for the Resource Management Act and procurement processes.

In the National Party announcement this week, it was not clear how it proposed to deliver the four-laning within four to 10 years or how its design matched with what has already been proposed.

In her statement, Tolley said an investment programme, which would link the North Island’s economic powerhouses with an efficient highway system, made sense. In this case, it would also facilitate homes, jobs and development, as well as improved safety and resilience, she said.

National Party Bay of Plenty candidate Tom Rutherford with Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell in the background.  Photo / Alex Cairns
National Party Bay of Plenty candidate Tom Rutherford with Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell in the background. Photo / Alex Cairns

In a statement, National Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell, Bay of Plenty candidate Tom Rutherford and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson said the Roads of National Significance in the Bay of Plenty would improve resilience and increase road safety.

“National’s comprehensive, nationwide transport plan will deliver more reliable options so New Zealanders can get to where they want to faster and spend more time doing what they love,” Uffindell said.

“This is part of National’s comprehensive nationwide transport package that will slash congestion, unlock housing growth, boost productivity and lift incomes.”

Rutherford said the Bay of Plenty was already reaping the benefits of National’s-delivered-Tauranga-Eastern-Link.

“National’s commitment to delivering stage two of the Takitimu Northern Link from Te Puna to Ōmokoroa will help people get to work and their kids to school faster.

Enabling works at Tauriko due to begin in the next couple of years will help address some of the traffic demand while greater highway infrastructure is promised to be delivered by 2050. Image / WKNZTA
Enabling works at Tauriko due to begin in the next couple of years will help address some of the traffic demand while greater highway infrastructure is promised to be delivered by 2050. Image / WKNZTA

Stage two of the Takitimu Northern Link would be funded through the National Land Transport Fund and additional Crown capital, while the Tauriko at SH29 upgrade would be funded through new innovative value capture and cost recovery funding mechanisms from the greenfield housing development opportunities it was expected to unlock.

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Monday’s policy release also included a $5b-plus plan for public transport in Auckland, including a northwestern busway, and busway or trackless trams from Botany to the airport.

National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown would not confirm whether the party would keep the Te Huia train, which runs from Hamilton to Auckland’s CBD, but did not promise to axe it either.

He said he would await a review of the project before determining whether to continue its funding.

“The Te Huia train has been a debacle over a number of years,” Brown said.

Luxon said National’s “vision” was for “New Zealand to become one of the world’s leading small, advanced economies and our transport plan will help drive prosperity and lift the standard of living for all New Zealanders”.

“With National’s Transport for the Future plan in place, New Zealanders will be able to get where they want to go faster and spend less time in their cars and more time doing what they love. Freight will also move more efficiently around the country, improving productivity,” he said.

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Additional reporting, NZ Herald.



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