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Feds: Time to fix potholes

For rural communities struggling with pothole-riddled roads, run-down bridges and never-ending slips, their challenge to the new government is ‘show us the money’, Federated Farmers says.
“Farmers recognise the government have a huge amount of work on their plate, and keeping a lid on taxes means there’s only so much money to go around,” Federated Farmers national board member and transport spokesman Mark Hooper said.
“While we are supportive of the ‘Roads of National Significance’ programme, there is some concern in rural areas that there won’t be enough funding available for provincial state highways and local road renewal and maintenance.”
For the agriculture and horticulture sector, those rural highways, local roads and bridges are critical to getting product to processors and markets in a timely manner, Hooper said. “In the absence of the public transport options available in most urban areas, they’re also the access lifelines for farming families getting to schools, suppliers and other services.”

During election campaigning, National’s transport spokesperson Simeon Brown – now the new Minister for both Transport and Local Government – pledged his party would establish a $500 million Pothole Repair Fund to “urgently address the shocking state of our local roads and state highways”.
There’s no mention of that fund in National’s coalition agreements with ACT and NZ First. The agreement with NZ First mentions 13 new Roads of National Significance and four major public transport upgrades.
There’s also a commitment to building a four-lane highway alternative for Northland’s Brynderwyns and to investigate the use of private finance to accelerate construction.
ACT has agreed to National’s plans for a network of 10,000 public EV chargers by 2030 but insisted this be subject to “a robust cost-benefit analysis”.
Labour’s speed limit reductions – a bone of contention in many provincial areas – will be reversed where it is safe to do so.
And in another clue on how the new government hopes to foot transport bills, ACT and National have agreed to “institute long-term city and regional infrastructure deals, allowing PPPs (public private partnerships), tolling and value capture rating to fund infrastructure”.
Instructions to NZTA Waka Kotahi on government priorities come in the form of the three-yearly Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport.
In a move welcomed by Federated Farmers, the Labour Government’s draft GPS, put out in April this year, made highway and local road maintenance a ‘strategic priority’, and significantly bumped up funding for it.