Investing in roading construction: National Land Transport Programme

Geoff Dangerfield NZTA Chief Executive


Parting NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield puts the huge investment in the country’s roading projects into perspective.

THE NEW ZEALAND TRANSPORT AGENCY heads into 2016 with the largest work programme we have ever seen. This will demand strong partnerships with the contracting sector to ensure we deliver on our promise to create transport solutions for a thriving nation.

The scale of the challenge is evident in the numbers. In the 2015/16 year our capital improvements programme on the state highway network is $1600 million, yet five years ago it was $900 million. And it is spread over a large number of projects, which demands a high level of project management skill and commitment. There is a sustained work programme for a number of years ahead.

2015-18 National Land Transport Programme

Waikato Expressway NZTA
Waikato Expressway – NZTA

We can see the forward programme across the whole land transport sector in the National Land Transport Programme. It outlines the three-year investment from the National Land Transport Fund and local government across all transport projects, maintenance and services.

One of the Transport Agency’s most critical tasks is to compile the optimal programme for the whole of the country. The aim is to deliver on the government’s objectives for a transport system that underpins the country’s economic development and improves road safety. The government also seeks to ensure that every dollar spent is invested wisely and generates best value for money.

For the three-year period just some of the investment figures are: $6.37 billion total investment on state highways, a 20 percent increase over the previous three years; $4.02 billion total investment on local roads, a six percent increase over the previous three years; $250 million total direct investment in walking and cycling; and 4800 kilometres of road network to be available for full High Productivity Motor Vehicle use.

Recent investment programme highlights

In this calendar year, there have been some significant construction milestones achieved, including: opening, ahead of schedule, the Tauranga Eastern Link; opening of further stages of the Waikato Expressway at Cambridge; Memorial Park, Wellington, completed for ANZAC Day ceremonies; opening of the new Christchurch Bus Interchange; and the opening of Phase 1 of the Nelson Street cycleway.

The physical commencement of numerous projects has been acknowledged with sod-turning ceremonies.


Just like linking the physical transport networks, the people and organisations that shape and deliver across the sector need to be well networked too. Working as one system means we can build on the synergies and strengths of each element.

The Transport Operations Centres, based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, are making a real difference. These are joint initiatives between the NZ Transport Agency, local councils and public transport agencies in our three main urban centres. They have a critical role in achieving better traffic flows and getting more productivity from our critical routes and making travel times more predictable.

Over the last few years we have seen significant growth in collaborative procurement and asset management throughout the sector through alliances and joint maintenance approaches. It is clear that collaborative contracting will be a key part of the future, especially in areas of network asset management and maintenance.

The new maintenance and operations approach was a significant opportunity for the sector – a big reform of our approach and business model. Our supply chain has responded well to our new network outcomes contracts, and how these are being delivered. We are almost through the first roll-out of these contracts and we have been careful to ensure a healthy market. We are committed to nurturing the capacity of the sector.

Our relationships with our suppliers and industry are critical. We are well aware that we only succeed when our suppliers succeed. The industry as a whole has embraced the Zero Harm commitment and we must collectively ensure that all our people will go home safe and healthy, every day, no exceptions.

Our industry liaison and industry advisory groups are now well established and are integral to our way of working. We make available information on the forward programme, and work across the industry on what we’ve got going down the pipeline.

Freight moving

For the long term, freight efficiency on our road network will receive significant focus. Forecasts anticipate a 50 percent increase in freight movements over the next 30 years. There has been considerable success in getting more freight on fewer trucks through our work on High Productivity Motor Vehicles.

We will be turning our attention to improving the efficiency of the wider freight network, focusing on the connections between road, rail and inter-modal freight hubs. Improving port access, particularly deep water ports which cater for larger ships, is vital. The challenge here is that most of our ports are sited near to, or central to, city centres and are part of our busy urban transport networks.

Reflecting and looking forward

As I step down from the chief executive role after seven years, I am proud of the Transport Agency’s customer focus and commitment to service. We are an integral part of the public sector with a strong ethos of service to the public, while at the same time bringing a strong set of commercial disciplines and relationships with the private sector to achieve results.

We have a strong investment focus and ensure that every dollar adds the best value to the transport system and benefits to users. Our procurement processes are leading and we have established ourselves as the public sector centre of excellence in this area. I am proud of our approach to performance and accountability.

The future challenge is to continue to ensure we plan for the long term, yet have the agility to adapt to changing transport patterns and preferences.

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