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The New Zealand Transport Agency's decision to cancel the Otaki to Levin expressway should be a first step in reassessing all the Roads of National Significance (RoNS), Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.
The decision to abandon plans for a $400 million four-lane expressway from Otaki to Levin in favour $100 million for more economically rational upgrades to the existing highway follows persistent warnings from officials to Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee that falling road tax revenues and escalating costs mean the RoNS are unaffordable.
It also follows comments by Mr Brownlee that the RoNS would "cost what they cost" and that falling traffic volumes don't warrant re-consideration of the projects because "if we build it, they will come".
"It is good to see a modicum of sanity returning to the Government's transport policy, but all the RoNS now need to be reassessed," said Ms Genter.
"Spending $13 million a kilometre to build a four-lane expressway between Otaki and Levin, a route with declining traffic volumes, would have been an enormous waste of money.
"Many of National's other motorway projects are just as uneconomical and also need to be cancelled.
"The $1.7 billion Puhoi to Wellsford holiday highway must be top of the list for being cut.
"It carries less traffic than Otaki to Levin and there is a viable alternative, known as Operation Lifesaver, that would realise most of the benefits of the holiday highway at a fraction of the cost by upgrading the existing highway.
"The $14 billion RoNS are poor value for money. They were chosen by National for political reasons with no assessment of alternatives to seek best value for money.
"They have sucked up most of the transport budget, resulting in funding cuts to projects that are most cost-effective.
"New Zealand would be much better served by investing that money in upgrades and maintenance of existing roads, public transport, and facilities to enable walking and cycling," said Ms Genter.