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Motorists face hike for new motorways

Petrol excise tax and road user charges will be hiked over the next three years to help pay for the government's motorway plans.

Public-private partnerships and tolling could also be used to raise funds.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee on Tuesday announced petrol excise duty will rise by three cents a litre on July 1 in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and road user charges will increase "by an equivalent amount".

He says the increases are required to deliver the government's roads of national significance programme, include the Puhoi to Wellsford "holiday highway", and other transport projects in the upper North Island.

The guaranteed funding increases will enable the NZ Transport Agency to begin four new projects in the 2013/14 financial year.

Those are the Rangiriri and Tamahere-Cambridge sections of the Waikato Expressway, the Mackays to Peka Peka section of the Wellington Northern Corridor, and the four-laning of the Groynes to Sawyers Arms section of the Western Corridor in Christchurch.

The government is also considering tolling Transmission Gully, or a public-private partnership to build it and help deliver its roads of national significance programme, Mr Brownlee said.

The announcement comes a day after the Green Party unveiled a plan to build a second fibre cable linking New Zealand to Australia and the United States, which is says would cost 0.8 per cent of the $12 billion the government is spending on new motorways.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the 13,000-metre cable could be built for the same amount as the government spends on 3.3km of motorway.