The Government has confirmed it wants to splash out billions for 15 new motorway and highway projects, promised during the election by National, and which it says is crucial to reducing congestion.

National estimated the cost of the projects would total around $17 billion during the election campaign, but the costs of the massive road-building projects remain uncertain.

The Government says every one of the 15 new “Roads of National Significance” will be four lanes, fully separated from other traffic, and could be delivered in stages.

In announcing the plan today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the Government would look into measures like private-public partnerships to help fund the motorways.

“We are re-introducing the successful Roads of National Significance (RoNS) programme, with 15 crucial projects to support economic growth and regional development across New Zealand,” he said in a media release.

“Investments in these essential corridors will make it easier for New Zealanders to get where they need to go, create a more productive and resilient transport network, drive economic growth, and unlock land for thousands of new houses.”

Roads of National Significance was a program of highway building started by the previous National government, under John Key, which kicked off projects like the Waikato Expressway, Wellington’s Transmission Gully, and Waterview Tunnels in Auckland.

Brown said the projects built by the previous government reduced congestion and improved safety in the roading corridors.

“Legislation is already underway to provide fast-track consenting approvals. We expect this to support major transport projects within the GPS, like the RoNS. This will provide immediate confidence to the construction sector to invest in the capability and equipment needed to deliver projects.

“The use of alternative revenue, funding, and delivery models will also support delivery of the RoNS. This includes public-private partnerships (PPPs), increased use of tolling, ‘Build, Own, Operate, Transfer’ equity finance schemes, and value capture, to generate additional revenue and deliver infrastructure in a more efficient manner.

“Building a new generation of Roads of National Significance signals our focus on prioritising investments that deliver real value to commuters and businesses, ensuring our cities and regions are well-connected and our economy thrives.”

While National estimated the cost of its transport plan to be worth around $24 billion while in opposition, transport officials estimated they could cost much more.

NZTA advice leaked to the New Zealand Herald suggested 17 projects proposed by the party could collectively cost between $30 billion and $46 billion to build, significantly higher than earlier estimates.

National was accused by Labour of under-cooking its cost estimates during the campaign.

The Government’s 15 Roads of National Significance announced include:

Whangārei to Auckland, with the following stages prioritised:

  • Alternative to Brynderwyns
  • Whangārei to Port Marsden
  • Warkworth to Wellsford.

Auckland roads

  • Mill Road
  • the East-West Link.

Tauranga to Auckland, with the following two stages prioritised:

  • Cambridge to Piaere
  • Tauriko West State Highway 29.

Roads to unlock housing growth:

  • Hamilton Southern Links
  • Petone to Grenada Link Road and the Cross Valley Link
  • the North West Alternative State Highway (SH16).

Other major routes

  • Takitimu Northern Link Stage 2
  • Hawkes Bay Expressway
  • Second Mt Victoria Tunnel and Basin Reserve upgrade
  • the Hope Bypass
  • The Belfast to Pegasus Motorway and Woodend Bypass.