Highway Classification Plan Upsets


A  planned NZTA highway classification change is worrying some some regions who see their needed highway roading upgrades playing second fiddle to the big main Auckland-Wellington-type city projects especially when they seek funding.

This state highway classification system is currently under development by NZTA, with support from the Ministery of Transport.

NZTA says the classification system is “a tool to help NZTA set the long term strategic direction of the state highway network and will form part of the State Highway Network Strategy, which is currently under development.” It says it will be an important contribution to long- term land transport planning for NZ.

In other words, the proposed new classifications are intended to guide decisions on standards and funding for state highway maintenance and improvements and that’s why regions are concerned.

The classifications will be based on how highways are used, and are applied using statistical thresholds including traffic volumes, freight volumes and value, population size, and international tourist flows.

How it will be worked out |NZTA

The Taranaki regional council transport committee had a presentation about it from the NZTA and aren’t impressed.

Council chairman, Roger Maxwell says a SH3 would be classed as a “regional strategic” highway in a four-tier system with “national strategic” at the top level.

“We believe SH3 does have national strategic importance, even though its statistics don’t meet the threshold levels proposed by the NZTA.

“For example, the thresholds include the value of export freight through ports. So Tauranga is credited with the export value of all the milk that is transported on Taranaki roads before being processed and railed to the Bay of Plenty for export. That’s an anomaly, especially as all that dairy product never goes near a road in Tauranga.”

He says the value of hydrocarbon products carried within and from Taranaki by road is also not taken into account. Nor is the importance of SH3 as an alternative route when SH1 through the central North Island is closed in winter.

Draft classifications | NZTA

  • It’s curious but it seems light rail is the current buzz word among regional councils - even beyond Wellington where a mayoral campaign was partly won on such an issue. Taranaki’s regional council also decided at its March meeting to add to its 2010-2040 transport strategy that it will “support investigations into the feasibility of light rail passenger transport services in the region.”







  1. Luke says:

    this classification system is hopelessly amateur, and thus is very dangerous considering it could be used to drive investment. ie why is Hamilton to Taupo and Tauranga classed as a high volume (35,000+) road when past Cambridge the AADT is only 10,000; and far less closer to Taupo.
    Some very strange roads are also included in ‘national strategic’, such as SH 57 behind Palmerston North which has an AADT of as low as 2000 in places.
    They have not even followed their own criteria properly.
    Also do not take into account that large proportions of inter-regional exports are railed. For example most dairy products.


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