Construction time-frame for second bridge not known until September

Traffic on Ashburton State Highway 1 bridge.
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Ashburton’s second bridge remains in the Government’s priorities, but the details for its delivery remain vague.
Prime Minister Chris Luxon and Transport Minister Simeon Brown released the revised draft of the Government Policy Statement on transport on Monday. The document provides direction for NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi to develop its next National Land Transport Plan.
The second Ashburton/Hakatere River Bridge is in the draft, but it is light on the details of when it will be built and how it will funded.
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown said he was happy to see the bridge retained in the plans as expected, and is eagerly awaiting the next step in the process.
“Ashburton’s second bridge is still in there, the details are not there, as in who is paying, which is the big one.”
Rangitata MP James Meager said the draft document doesn’t commit funding or timeframes as that comes in the National Land Transport Plan from NZTA in September.
“The campaign commitment to begin construction of the bridge in the first term remains on track.
“We’re all itching to get cracking.”
Mayor Brown is too:
“It’s ready to go. All it needs are detailed designs and to go out tender so it can start.”
While the announcement was light on details around Ashburton’s second bridge, a “project of regional significance”, it delivered on a number of the Government’s promises as part of its 100-day plan – the deadline for which ends on Friday.
Roads of National Significance are back with 15 new four-lane roading projects across the country – including the Woodend Bypass but not the stretch of SH1 between Ashburton and Rolleston.
The plans also include the promised $500m pothole fund, which Minister Brown said would be “ring-fenced to resealing, rehabilitation, and drainage maintenance works”.
The government also intends to set up a Road Efficiency Group to focus on road maintenance, standardising maintenance protocols, and reducing spending on temporary traffic management.
There is also $2.3b for public transport services and $2.1b for public transport infrastructure over the next three years.
Mayor Brown also noted the Government is looking at shifting to a 10-year National Land Transport Programme, rather than three years, which would be better timing for council planning.

Road users to foot the bill
The coalition Government’s revised transport plans have around $20b being spent in the next three years.
To help pay for it all, Minister Brown announced several hikes “to balance the transport budget”.
It has proposed to increase vehicle registration fees by a total of $50 – with increases of $25 per year for the next two years, a fee that hasn’t been increased since 1994.
He is also proposing a fuel tax increase of 12 cents in 2027 – the same amount Labour suggested through gradual increases by mid-2026.
That would be followed by further increases of 6 cents per litre and 4 cents per litre in subsequent years.
Fuel Excise Duty and Road User Charges will not be raised this term but face a similar increase from 2027.
NZTA is also being asked to consider different ways of funding and delivering major transport investments, ensuring they make efficient use of every dollar spent, Minister Brown said.

LDR is local democracy reporting co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.