The roads of national significance (RoNS) programme is a key part of the government’s National Infrastructure Plan (external link) and the government’s policy statement on land transport. (external link) This policy direction is the basis of the investment priorities outlined in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).
The seven current RoNS projects are based around New Zealand's five largest population centres: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.
The focus is on moving people and freight between and within these centres more safely and efficiently. The RoNS are ‘lead infrastructure’ projects – that is, they enable economic growth rather than simply responding to it.
All seven RoNS have long been identified through regional land use and transport studies as being strategically significant investment needs. Identifying and labelling these corridors as RoNS signaled their importance, priority and certainty.
Other RoNS may be added in future but currently from north to south the seven projects are:
As a small, sparsely populated country distant from world markets, New Zealand relies on a robust transport network to move people, goods and services safely and efficiently.
Infrastructure development is one of the government’s key planks for economic growth. A key departure from road planning in the past is that the RoNS projects represent a ‘lead infrastructure’ approach. This means the government is investing in infrastructure now to encourage future economic growth rather than wait until the strain on the network becomes a handbrake on progress.
Around 92% (by weight) of all freight within New Zealand is moved by road. An efficient freight industry with access to cost effective transport is vital to the competitiveness of New Zealand businesses. Industries that are critical to New Zealand’s economy such as dairy processing, forestry and tourism are the key beneficiaries of better roads.
July 2010 – RoNS economic assessments review
This report contains the findings of an economic assessment that included consideration of the total economic benefits and costs for the seven RoNS projects, taking into account traditional road user benefits, and potentially broader productivity and economic growth associated with the implementation of the RoNS.
The Transport Agency has started work on all seven RoNS, and has already completed one – the Victoria Park Tunnel in Auckland.
Most of the RoNS comprise several segments and the progress of each of the segments will be determined by the order in which they become construction-ready.
In order to become construction ready, each RoNS project must first gain a resource consent. Due to the size and complexity of the RoNS projects, the Transport Agency may seek consent via the new Environmental Protection Agency process.