Friday, December 1, 2023

National unveils $500m pothole repair fund

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Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, left, and Botany MP and National Party leader Christopher Luxon say National will urgently address the dire state of the country’s roads. Times file photo Chris Harrowell

The National Party will establish a $500 million fund to fix potholes on New Zealand’s roads if elected to Government at this year’s general election.

Botany MP and party leader Christopher Luxon joined Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown to make the announcement in East Tamaki on July 16.

They say National will also issue a directive to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to double the current rate of roading renewals and halve the standard response rate for pothole repair from 48 hours to 24 hours.

Brown, the party’s transport spokesperson, says the new Pothole Repair Fund will aim to urgently address the “shocking state of our local roads and state highways”.

“In 2022, over 54,000 potholes needed repair on state highways around New Zealand, the highest number in 10 years.

“In Auckland alone, there’s a backlog of 1000 kilometres of needed road repairs, with Auckland Transport estimating it will take up to 10 years to clear.

“Potholes are a safety hazard and have been causing significant damage and disruption to freight and motorists all over the country.”

Brown says the fund will see an additional $500m over three years allocated to local authorities and Waka Kotahi to address potholes and other damage to local roads and state highways.

“The cost of the Pothole Repair Fund will be met from re-prioritising spending within the National Land Transport Programme.

“That includes a reduction in expenditure on activities which unnecessarily slow traffic down such as blanket speed limit reductions and excessive speed bump installations, or the failed Road to Zero advertising campaign, toward investment in safer roads which are properly maintained.

“Rather than wasting money on slowing people down, giant red zeros, or expensive transport projects nobody wants, like the $30 billion Auckland light rail project, National will focus on fixing and enhancing our roading network to ensure people and freight can move around the country safely and efficiently.”

The announcement follows a move by National late last year that saw it ask the public to help highlight the deteriorating state of the country’s roads through a ‘Pothole of the Week’ campaign.

Luxon and Brown held a press conference near a large pothole, which had been patched over but not repaired, on the surface of Cryers Road in East Tamaki.

They asked Kiwis to sign a petition and send in photos of potholes in their local area via the party’s Facebook page.

Brown said motorists are tired of potholes peppering New Zealand’s roads, damaging vehicles, and causing havoc for motorists.

He said potholes are a safety hazard which is why they need to be fixed.

“We’re hearing from people every day who say the roads are the worst they’ve ever seen them.”

Labour Government Transport Minister David Parker has blamed the previous National Government, which left office in 2017, for the poor state of the country’s roads due to it having frozen road maintenance.

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