Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Auckland Needs $68 Billion - But No Pressure!

Auckland drivers may soon be tolled at motorway exit ramps!
This week, a high-level Think Tank report suggested this as a viable way to ease rates pressure. The report gives authorities a clear timetable for when new revenue sources will be needed, in order to find an extra $400 million for each of the next 30 years - to cover projects such as the City Rail Link and new roads, including another harbour crossing.
photo: Steven McNicholl
A Sunday drive in Auckland???
photo: Steven McNicholl

The plan's expected to suggest rises in fuel tax and rates, and possible user-charges on existing roads from 2020, rather than just the tolls now allowed on new govt highways. Without some of the Think Tank's ideas, ratepayers will stare down the barrel of a huge funding gap revealed in the Auckland Plan, which lists transport projects that're expected to cost $68 billion.
Surprisingly, a large proportion of 2300 public submissions on an earlier options paper preferred road charges, to spread the load. A NZ Herald straw poll this week indicated 45% support among the 3000 respondents.
The report will suggest tolls at the off-ramps to local roads. Long- distance travellers would be free to drive through the city without being charged, as long as they stayed on the motorways.
Obviously its far too early for the report to indicate quite where these tolling areas might be...but imagine the extra congestion as cars slow on off-ramps for tolling. The resultant tailbacks (and they WILL occur!) would have a major impact on the very motorways the scheme is trying to finance.
The Think Tank may have to think outside its tank...

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