Government considers tolling new Transmission Gully motorway

The Government is considering tolling the new Transmission Gully motorway north of Wellington, set to open in 2020.

The four-lane 27-kilometre highway, estimated to cost $852 million, will link Wellington to the Kapiti Coast.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has been advised by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) the road is a candidate for tolling, which the agency is investigating.

Official advice, released under the Official Information Act, informed Mr Twyford a toll could offset an "expected increase in demand" for the new road.

If it goes ahead it would become the fourth highway in New Zealand where users must pay a fee.

AA general manager motoring affairs Mike Noon says a toll is not a smart move.

"We've built this beautiful road and now we're looking at it saying we don't want anyone to drive on it, which doesn't seem smart."

He is concerned about the road safety implications of a toll, saying it could prompt drivers to use a less safe road to avoid the toll.

There are currently three State Highway toll roads in New Zealand - the Northern Gateway north of Auckland on SH1, the Tauranga Eastern Link on SH2 and Takitimu Drive in Tauranga on SH29.

The Northern Gateway collects about $16.4 million in revenue each year, while the Tauranga Eastern Link collects about $7 and Takitumu Drive about $6.7 million. They charge about $2 for a car and $5 for a truck.

Only new roads can be tolled, and the Government can only use revenue from tolling to be put towards planning, design, supervision, construction, maintenance and operation of the road.

Before introducing a toll, NZTA must also demonstrate there is a degree of public support for it and there is a feasible, alternative untolled route available to drivers.