Our ageing infrastructure is set to get a massive upgrade as the Finance Minister starts writing $8 billion dollars of cheques.
And roads are the big winners – with $2.2 billion to be spent on new roads in Auckland and another $4 billion to be spent on transport infrastructure in the main growth areas of Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury and Queenstown.
But the Government’s also giving a nod to rail and other public transport initiatives, with $1.1 billion going on rail upgrades.
In Auckland, the long-awaited Penlink corridor will be built to cope with the massive growth north of the city, connecting Whangaparoa to the northern busway.
State Highway 1 from Whangārei to Port Marsden will be upgraded to four lanes to improve freight connectivity.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the projects will speed up travel times, ease congestion and make roads safer by taking trucks off the road and on to rail.
“The programme brings forward and funds significant projects, allowing them to be built sooner,” Mr Twyford says.
“The significant package is designed to give the construction industry certainty and confidence about future work.”
But capacity is a huge issue. While the Government is ready to splash the cash, it relies on the already struggling construction industry to be able to find the labour and resources to steam ahead with the projects.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the past decade has seen underinvestment in crucial national infrastructure.
He promises the economy is in good shape to handle the spending.
Four rail initiatives will be funded. That includes improvements to the Wiri to Quay Park corridor in Auckland, extending the electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe and improvements to the Wellington, Wairarapa and Palmerston North.
Aucklanders will soon be able to walk and cycle from the North Shore with a shared path to be built over the Harbour Bridge.
Some of the major projects promised by National, including the Melling interchange in the Hutt Valley and a four-lane Tauranga Northern Link will be key parts of the plans.
But there’s no sign of funding for the promised light rail project down Auckland’s Dominion Road.
Labour is promising to spend another $4 billion on infrastructure in the election year Budget in May.
Hospitals will receive a $300 million capital investment, mainly focused on upgrading facilities in child and maternal health and mental health and addiction.