“Lifesaver” Highway Proposed for Puhoi – Wellsford

Media Release from The Campaign for Better Transport

The Campaign for Better Transport has proposed alternative options for a $1.7bn toll road between Puhoi and Wellsford to the Auckland Regional Council.

“The options we have put forward are far more cost effective, will save lives, and can be implemented far sooner than the current New Zealand Transport Agency proposal,” said Cameron Pitches, Convenor of the Campaign for Better Transport.

Based on work already done by the NZTA, alternative upgrade options have been costed at $160m – $320m.  Both options include a bypass for Warkworth and significant safety upgrades for notorious accident black spots.

Between 2000 and 2009, 41 people have died on SH1 between Puhoi and Wellsford, most in head on collisions.

“Given that sections of the toll road won’t be completed until 2019 and 2022, the risk is the current poor safety record will continue, costing as many as 50 more lives based on current trends.

“And for those that won’t be able to afford the toll road, we are concerned that the existing parallel highway will remain as dangerous as it currently is,” said Mr Pitches.

The Campaign for Better Transport also noted that NZTA’s own economic assessment highlighted the poor cost effectiveness of the current $1.7bn proposal.

“At best 80c will be returned in economic benefits for every dollar invested.  We estimate that the alternatives we have put forward will generate at least $2.50 for every dollar.  From an economic and safety point of view, the current proposal does not stack up. It makes no sense to invest such a huge amount of money if the benefits aren’t there,” said Mr Pitches.

The Auckland Regional Council Transport and Urban Development Committee endorsed the alternatives at its meeting on Wednesday. That committee has requested that officers undertake further work on the options presented, and the ARC will be writing to the NZTA and the Minister of Transport suggesting the alternatives be given strong consideration.

[ends]

Notes:

Puhoi – Wellsford Highway to be tolled:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10665246

Full presentation and report available here:
http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/08/11/operation-lifesaver-a-better-solution-for-puhoi-wellsford/#comments

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