The National Party has clarified a claim in its 10-year transport plan that it would include a four-lane highway from Tauranga to Northland, if elected.
The transport policy, which included extending the northern motorway from Warkworth to Wellsford and a highway from Marsden Point to Whangārei, was announced on Monday morning.
But within hours of making the $24 billion pre-election announcement, the policy has been clarified.
National’s transport spokesperson Simeon Brown confirmed to Stuff that the complete, four-lane vision wouldn’t be achieved for another three terms, at least.
In a statement to media, the party said a National government would deliver new roads of national significance, including four lanes from Whangārei to Tauranga.
However, costing hasn’t been done for a corridor of road between Wellsford and Waipu. The roughly 50-kilometre stretch, which includes the notoriously unstable Brynderwyn Hills, would only be scoped “at a later date”.
“We haven’t forgotten about it, but we can’t do the whole thing at once,” a National press secretary said.
But Brown was more confident.
Brown anticipated work would begin on the Brynderwyn Hills “relatively quickly”. That’s because the current Government has already allocated $6 billion to resilience projects.
“Absolutely it will be within the next 10 years – it’s a four-year fund. There’s a fund available for resilience, so we would require NZTA (NZ Transport Agency/Waka Kotahi) to work on those projects.”
Brown said he understood the transport agency had already begun investigating a new route across Brynderwyn.
However, in a subsequent phone call, Brown conceded the project would have to be done in stages and the four-lane vision would come much later – by about 10 years.
“It wasn’t jumping the gun committing to four lanes, it’s a long term vision… it’s a generational project,” Brown said.
“So we’re not committing to four lanes in 10 years, we’re committing to the projects we’ve mentioned.”
Brown said the party had taken its cost estimates from work done by NZTA and because the transport agency had not investigated a four-lane bypass of the Brynderwyn Hills, the party didn’t know what it would cost, he said.
However, he’s confident work would begin soon to make the route more resilient to slips.
The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, which began in 2016, opened in June after seven years of construction and a cost blowout from $780 million to $1.05b.
Resource consent has been awarded for the Warkworth to Wellsford extension, but the project is unfunded.