Tauranga City Council is putting off further discussion on raising the Route K tolls until after the new State Highway 36 extension is in operation.
Mayor Stuart Crosby says this won’t be until September at which time an assessment of tolls will need to occur.
Route K toll plaza.
“We have had a record number of vehicles last month, so hopefully there is a natural build-up,” says Stuart.
On Tuesday the council approved its statutorily required estimated revenue from tolls for the year. Tolls for the 2011/12 financial year are expected to be $1,962,117.
It estimates tolls will cease to be collected in the 2045/46 financial year, based on the assumption of tolls increasing in the short to medium term.
Tauranga City Council has been considering raising tolls on the highway to make it viable.
The council wants the NZ Transport Agency to take over the route as part of the highways network, but has been told it will have to be a viable proposition for that to happen.
“Where we are at the moment is our acting chief executive officer is meeting with representatives of NZTA today, and hopefully that will result in myself and the acting CEO addressing the board of NZTA in the not too distant future.
“So there is quiet progress on that, and we are all working hard to make that transfer happen.
“They have been very receptive – they are just building up their own information base and that’s what the series of meetings, including today’s, have been about.”
Route K background:
The toll road through the Kopurererua Valley is not paying its way and council is faced with either selling off the highway or raising the tolls to prevent ratepayers having to bail it out.
If the tolls are not increased in the next couple of years, council staff estimate $32.5 million of Route K debt will need to be transferred, meaning a permanent annual rate increase of $38 per rateable property.
Route K is an ‘orphan’ system. Talks have been going on about making Route K part of the Land Transport Management Act scheme so the two road tolling systems can be integrated when the eastern arterial link begins operations.
That integration with the state highway system was originally set to happen when the Harbour Link Project was being considered as a tolling project.
When the government decided to pay for the harbour link, Route K was left to struggle on.
Route K cost $63.6 million and has a debt of $51.9 million.
The debt will be increased by $12.8 million when the council’s share of the Pyes Pa bypass is transferred this year.