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Labour’s broken promise on Auckland’s light rail has provided a silver lining in the form of $774 million in unspent transport funds that could be used to solve our infrastructure crisis, National’s transport spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Now that the Auckland light rail project won’t have spades in the ground in 2020, money must be redirected towards vital highways the Government has either scrapped or stalled.

“A whopping $774m has been earmarked for light rail in the Auckland Regional Transport Plan through until 2020-21, $455m of which is from the National Land Transport Fund.

“Rather than just sit on this fund paid for by motorists, the Transport Minister should spend it on ready-to-go projects that communities are crying out for.

“He could push go now on the Waihi to Tauranga Corridor, which includes the Tauranga Northern Link. At a cost of $520 million, Treasury has advised it is ‘market ready’.

“Or he could ask Auckland Council to bring forward improvements to Mill Road and Penlink, which could both be paid for with the cash not being spent on light rail.

“There’s also the $150m Melling Interchange in Lower Hutt waiting to be built, or the Ōtaki to Levin expressway.

“This needs to happen for the sake of the economy. The light rail delay has stalled NZTA’s building programme for up to 18 months, prompting dire warnings from Treasury about the future of the construction sector.

“The KiwiBuild fiasco Phil Twyford oversaw demonstrated how little Labour’s promises can be trusted. Light rail was Labour’s other big election promise and it’s heading the same way.

“The Government needs to fix this transport mess now, rather than wheel out Megan Woods in 12 months’ time to apologise, yet again, for Phil Twyford’s mistakes.”

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