WELLINGTON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government and Auckland Council will embark on the country's largest ever civil construction program to "create a 21st century transport network," Minister of Transport Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said on Thursday.
Altogether 28 billion NZ dollars (19.8 billion U.S. dollars) will be invested over the next decade to "unlock Auckland's potential," Twyford said in a statement, adding they will be building vital projects including light rail, Penlink and Mill Rd, heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements, and more dedicated cycle lanes in New Zealand's largest city.
"These much-needed investments are made possible by a 4.4 billion NZ dollars funding boost resulting from the Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue of the National Land Transport Fund, and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions," Twyford said.
The plan will "help ease the awful congestion that has been caused by a decade of under-investment," he said, adding a congestion-free rapid transit network will be created and other alternatives to driving will be boosted to help free up the roads, enable growth, and improve safety for drivers and others.
Goff said as Auckland grows "we need to move from a focus on roading to a more balanced approach that promotes public transport and active transport networks."
New forms of revenue to invest in the transport network and light rail to supplement buses, ferries and heavy rail are critical for an efficient and effective Auckland transport system, Goff said.