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Building infrastructure faster pays off for local communities – Infrastructure NZ

The expediated reopening of State Highway 25A on the Coromandel Peninsula following the damaging storm events of January 2023 increased GDP in the region by $85.88 million, according to a new report released by Infrastructure New Zealand.

“This is a great local economic story, brought about by excellent planning, co-operation and delivery from the public and private infrastructure sectors working together,” says Infrastructure New Zealand Chief Executive, Nick Leggett.

Infrastructure New Zealand delivered the report to Minister of Transport Hon Simeon Brown last week. The paper consists of a SH25A Taparahi Bridge Replacement Case Study and associated economic benefits to help inform the Government’s infrastructure plans and improve New Zealand’s planning, consenting and procurement systems.

“Considering the scale of the damage, which included the total loss of a 100-metre section of the road, the speed of delivery for reopening SH25A is an extraordinary achievement and illustrates that if we get the policy and regulatory settings right, New Zealand can build vital infrastructure rapidly and to a high standard.”

Nick Leggett notes these are impressive figures and says they highlight the value of the accelerated rebuild, but the real value lies with the local community and businesses that have benefitted from the increase in economic activity due to the reinstatement of SH25A.

“By studying what made the SH25A project so successful we can learn how to gain significant efficiencies and faster delivery of key infrastructure projects in the future,” says Leggett.

The report sets out several standout factors that facilitated the accelerated completion of SH25A.

“With an infrastructure deficit of more than $200 billion New Zealand cannot rely on emergency situations such as that experienced in the Coromandel to drive high performance and faster pace in the building of our critical infrastructure,” says Leggett. “As the report advises, we need to adopt streamlined consenting, client and alliancing approaches, without compromising design standards or the quality of the structure.”

Infrastructure New Zealand is encouraging Government ministers to adopt the report’s key recommendations, including empowering the NZTA board and senior management to adopt a mature approach to procurement and Government infrastructure agencies driving efficiency through standardisation, where appropriate.

The report also recognises that New Zealand’s planning and consenting attitudes must be improved to hasten the building of infrastructure for wider economic gains.

“Currently value is solely recognised by what is lowest cost, whereas real value is achieved through more careful planning followed by faster delivery of projects that do not cut corners on design or materials. This provides a rapid return for economic productivity and allows local communities and businesses to recover faster,” says Leggett.

The SH25A Taparahi Bridge Replacement Case Study and associated economic benefits report is available in full at http://infrastructure.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Infrastructure-NZ-SH25A-Taparahi-Bridge-Case-Study-DIGITAL.pdf.


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