Auckland congestion charges are likely
An agreement between Auckland Council and central government has been struck to attempt to end our biggest city’s gridlock woes.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Auckland Mayor Len Brown signed the Auckland Transport Alignment Project report on September 15.
The report, a joint project between the council, the Ministry of Transport, Auckland Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, the Treasury and the State Services Commission, recommends a strategic approach for transport investment over the next 30 years. It outlines plans to deal with the extra 700,000 people that Auckland’s population over that time and a projected increase in freight on Auckland roads of 78 per cent.
The report recommended congestion charges over a rise in property rates to help fund needed infrastructure and a network of toll systems that vary in price depending on time and location. They are expected to be installed by 2028. ’’Applying charges across the whole network also reduces the likelihood of unintended consequences resulting from diverting traffic, as prices can be finetuned across the network to support desired outcomes,’’ the report read.
Councillor Bill Cashmore said the package is expected to cost about $24 billion over the next decade. About $20 billion is expected to be available under current transport funding plans, he said. ’’The council and the government will now consider options to address the $4 billion gap ahead of the next round of statutory funding decisions in 2018.’’
The first projects in the package are expected to be delivered between 2018-2028 and include the Northwestern Busway, new or upgraded arterial roads to enable greenfield growth, and upgraded airport access via State Highway 20B. Longer-term projects include improved access to the port and Grafton Gully, new roads to Kumeu and Pukekohe and widening the northern motorway.
Bridges said the report represented ‘‘alignment in Auckland like we have never had before in transport’’.
Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell welcomed the report, but said public private partnerships or infrastructure bonds also needed to be considered, he said.
About $24 billion will be needed over the next decade to deliver the agreedupon transport projects.