By Trevor Ammundsen.
Positive Policies for Mercury Bay - No 1
With the General Election nearing, I thought it would be a good idea to draw attention to policies that could be good for our region. After all there is enough stupidity coming out of politician’s mouths; one doesn’t have time to write about it all. Good policy is a lot harder to hunt down.
With a bit of an effort though, I did find one that I felt was worth commenting on and this has to do with roading. We are all conscious of the situation with State Highway 25A whereby it has a large hole in the middle of it which is to be bridged. This leaves travellers with alternative routes between Mercury Bay and the other side, but they are all longer and not as easy to drive. We are therefore in a position where State Highway 25A requires fixing and many other roading projects are needed to make the Coromandel’s State Highway system fit for purpose. The fixing of State Highway 25A is being funded by the Government but it is doubtful that any of the other work required will even be planned for in the short term; especially so, when you consider other roading demands such as the East Coast.
To help move along our roading infrastructure re-build, the Act Party has announced a policy of allowing road construction companies to fund the construction of our Highways and to fund this through tolling. The road construction company benefits from the tolls paid and at the end of the contract period (say 20 years), would sell the bit of highway back to the Government of the day. at the original construction cost. To me this appears to be a win for all parties.
The Government benefits greatly by having a Highway built at no cost to the taxpayer for twenty years at which time they purchase it at the original construction cost. They could choose to keep the tolls running which would probably pay for this investment over the following five years. This would be a major financial win for the Government, basically roading for nothing.
The construction company gains a profit from the original project and then uses tolls to offset the interest on their investment. I am certain they will make a profit out of this part. They will also gain by being able to generate a consistent workload for their company by entering other such contracts, following on from their original one.
Most importantly, we, the taxpayers, gain by having our roading infrastructure re-built and upgraded in a timely fashion at a minor cost to us all individually. There are several projects that are required on the State Highway network in Coromandel. The potential is even more if you consider local highways such as the Tapu-Coroglen Road. If you are not sure how much work is needed, please contact the Mercury Bay Business Association who have prepared an excellent Vision document for our roading infrastructure.
If the numbers are important to you then just think that, at current road traffic volumes (well current before the hole appeared), a toll of $3 per trip on State Highway 25A will realise about $100 million over the 20-year period. Each trip is not very expensive when you consider the option of the drive through Coromandel. And the next Project? How about Pumpkin Hill? Would you be prepared to pay that $3 to drive around the Tairua Hill, or would you keep driving over it?
As this is the first article where I have backed one party’s policy, I feel I should disclose where I am at politically. Firstly, I am not a member of any political party although I did join TOP for a year about nine years ago. I have voted for many parties over the years including Act and National but also Labour, Social Credit, New Zealand Party, Values and Mcgillycuddy Serious Party (the most honest of the lot).