In larger metropolitan areas, especially Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, economic activity is concentrated in and around key employment centres. Improving the ability to get people in, out and around these cities will have the largest impact on economic productivity. To achieve value for money it is important to make best use of existing network capacity. Traffic operation centres based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch enable real-time management of network capacity to maximise traffic flows and improve customer service.
To supplement the existing network, improvements in capacity will be sought across all modes including private cars, public transport, and cycling and walking.
Improved public transport networks with priority lanes will provide an opportunity to avoid or reduce congestion, leading to more productive use of commuters’ time and more predictable journeys.
Within urban areas, increasing the capacity of the network to move more freight, particularly to ports, airports, freight hubs and new development sites, will improve productivity.
In Auckland, for example, the proposed investment in the East-West link will provide more efficient, predictable and safer freight journeys to and from the Onehunga-Penrose area in south Auckland.
Enabling economic growth and productivity is more than just moving freight. New Zealand households spend around 17% of their income on transport. This amounts to around $25 billion per year. If this can be reduced by as little as 5% through more efficient movement of people on the land transport network, it will free up over $1bn to be used elsewhere.
The 2015-18 NLTP estimates $3.5bn for improvement works in the three main urban areas Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, of which $2.9bn is state highway improvement and $558m for local roads.
North of Wellington, State Highway 1 is the key route in and out of the capital. It also serves the northern terminus of the Cook Strait ferry services that provide a key link between the North and South islands.
Also, in Wellington, the Northern Corridor Road of National Significance (RONS) will support economic growth by delivering significant travel time, network resilience and safety benefits for journeys in and out of Wellington, through the delivery of a four-lane expressway from Porirua to Otaki. The improvements will deliver improved travel time reliability and reduce peak time journeys from Levin to Wellington Airport by approximately 40 minutes when completed.
The total projected cost of the Wellington Northern Corridor project is approximately $5.5bn, of which $430m is included in the 2015-18 NLTP.
The upper North Island is home to more than half of New Zealand’s population and generates more than 50% of the national GDP. More than half of New Zealand’s freight moves through the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and/or Bay of Plenty regions, and 64% of goods by value within New Zealand move through the Ports of Auckland, Tauranga, Northport and Auckland Airport. The safe and efficient movement of goods is vital to the nation’s social and economic success.
The Waikato Expressway RONS will improve economic growth and productivity for Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty through more efficient movement of people and freight between the country’s two largest ports (Auckland and Tauranga), the largest international airport (Auckland) and major freight hubs in the Waikato and south Auckland. Increased capacity will make the route safer and will move through-traffic away from smaller communities like Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Cambridge. The overall cost for the expressway is projected to be $2.1bn-$2.5bn, with $1bn recommended for investment in the 2015-18 NLTP.
The 7.3km Te Rapa section of the expressway was opened in late 2012. Monitoring of over 200,000 journeys on this relatively small section indicates savings of up to five minutes per trip in peak periods.
The reduction in travel times between Tauranga and Auckland has also enabled wider economic benefits such as development of the Ruakura freight hub and the Te Rapa/Horotiu North industrial area.