Potholes a result of pay-as-you-go road funding

New Zealand has badly potholed roads because road maintenance is inadequately funded from pay-as-you-go road user charges (RUC) levied on trucks instead of being well funded and built as core infrastructure from the outset.

National Road Carriers COO James Smith says, “We fund our roads on a consumption model rather than an investment model, so we are constantly falling behind.”

Smith said a recent opinion piece in The Northern Advocate newspaper highlighted that logging truck companies pay for road maintenance in their RUC while offshore forest owner investors pay minimal council rates to maintain roads and then take their profits out of the country.

“From the time a tree is planted, a forestry company would have about 30 years to pay roading levies to enable councils to build good roads for the community to use and ultimately for a logging truck to pick up the log from that tree. But that is not happening.

“The lack of investment to build good quality roads in the first place means roads quickly deteriorate and then councils must rely on RUC funding. By the time the logging truck goes down the road it’s too late. We need funding before then.

“This is not just a local Northland issue. New Zealand has a pothole problem everywhere from Kaitaia to Bluff because the way we fund roads is flawed.”

Smith said many of the worst pot-holed roads were local roads with their maintenance being the responsibility of local bodies. “This is why we need an ALL of New Zealand approach to road infrastructure that takes a long term view.”

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