Nearly $4 billion pothole fund over three years

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The government has announced a nearly $4 billion boost to tackle potholes on state highways and local roads over the next three years.

In a statement released today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the NZTA Waka Kotahi board has confirmed indicative funding levels in the National Land Transport Programme, allowing the Government to “significantly increase” funding for road maintenance.

Over the next three years, the agency will provide $2.07 billion to pothole prevention on state highways, with $1.9 billion going to pothole prevention on local roads.

However, the Greens said the money “might as well be a waste” if New Zealand failed to tackle the climate crisis.

The areas with the most gaps in funding are Auckland ($487 million), Waikato ($214 million), Canterbury ($188 million) and Northland ($149 million).

A breakdown of pothole prevention funding by region.

“Compared to expenditure under the previous government’s NLTP 2021-2024, this represents a 91% increase in funding for pothole prevention on national highways and a 50% increase in total funding for prevention of potholes on local roads,” Brown said.

“We have earmarked this record investment in the Pothole Prevention Fund for resealing, rehabilitation and drainage maintenance work to ensure NZTA and municipalities bring our state highways and local roads to the safe and reliable levels Kiwis expect.”

Brown said more than 62,000 potholes needed repairs on state highways in the county last year.

“We are now making up for the maintenance gap to ensure Kiwis and freight can get where they need to go quickly and safely,” he said.

“Indicative funding levels confirmed under our government provide councils with much-needed certainty as they finalize their long-term plans. It will also enable road contractors to have a clear pipeline of work across our road network, which will enable greater investment in the people. and equipment necessary for its maintenance.

“Kiwis want potholes fixed and our roads well maintained, and this funding boost will deliver real results across the country.

“Incentivizing investment in pothole prevention will deliver a safe and efficient network for New Zealanders that increases productivity and supports economic growth.”

‘The money has flowed down the drain’ – The Greens

The Greens' financial spokesperson, Julie Ann Genter.

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said the government’s choice “to monitor billions while remaining inactive on climate change does nothing to solve the core problems of our transport system”.

“Putting four billion dollars down the drain might as well be money poured down the drain if we fail to tackle the climate crisis and avoid a future of post-golf natural disasters.”

She said Brown has created “hype” around potholes but has “no solutions to the real challenges facing our transportation network.”

“The minister really has no idea how our transport network works and what is needed to keep more people and goods moving. Investments in rail, public transport infrastructure and short sea shipping are an essential part of reducing pressure on our roads, reducing transport costs and reducing emissions.

“Other transportation solutions are desperately needed to divert money from constant road repairs. For $4 billion, we could stop the damage in the first place by improving low-emission alternatives like public transportation, taking the pressure off our climate and road infrastructure.

“We urgently need funding to shift more heavy freight to rail and short sea shipping, rather than entrenching our dependence on road transport.

“Putting large amounts of taxpayer money into something that has a short-term impact like pothole repair is simply throwing good money after bad. We need a government that has the courage to look at the long-term needs of our country,” she said.