Seeing the article in the Herald the other day on the queues of traffic that form when you try an merge five lanes into two, made me think of this video from the Onion:
Discussion last week focussed on Len Brown apparently thowing away a valuable point of negotiation in the fight for rail funding, little has been said on the comments of PM John Key.
John Key is being disingenuous when he claims the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway “was something National campaigned on”.
National clearly did not campaign on the construction of a new $1.6bn toll road between Puhoi and Wellsford, just as it did not campaign on diverting up to $340m of public transport funding and $150m of local road funding to the Roads of National Significance.
The phrase “Roads of National Significance” was not even invented until well after the election.
The Government needs to come clean and tell people how much the toll will be for users of the new Puhoi to Wellsford motorway, and what safety upgrades are planned for the existing State Highway One.
Graeme Easte sums up the rail funding issue for Auckland in a letter to the Herald last Thursday:
Len Brown is being attacked for seeking billions from the Government to fund major rail projects for Auckland. But this is a category mistake: the real issue is not about seeking substantial new money but rather about redirecting some of the vast amounts of cash already budgeted for transport funding.
Over the next 30 years the Transport Agency (NZTA) is budgeting to receive over $100 billion in income from fuel taxes and road levies. With about a third of the population, Auckland will provide about a third of that income and is slated to receive a similar proportion in expenditure – somewhere in the range of $30-39 billion. Although about half of that will be required for maintaining existing infrastructure, passenger transport subsidies, etc. that still leaves the other half for new projects – large and small.
So instead of telling us that the cupboard is bare, Government needs to enter into a dialogue with Len and his new Council as to what our spending priorities are. Len has a very strong mandate to tell Government Auckland’s preference is for expanding the public transport network way ahead of new motorways.
Indeed. Auckland should be investing in transport projects that achieve the best economic, social and environmental outcomes, with a view to reducing our long term reliance on fossil fuels. This investment should not be predetermined based on an obsolete funding model that stems from the transport planning of last century.
Submissions on the Waterview Connection Project close Friday 15th October at 5:00pm.
The Campaign for Better Transport’s submission is here . In summary:
- It is questionable whether the project will achieve the objectives that NZTA have highlighted.
- The proposed bus shoulder lanes along State Highway 16 are an inadequate gesture to provide high quality “Quality Transit Network” standard public transport along this route. Suggestions to improve the quality of the lanes are detailed further in the submission.
- Further public transport improvements on local arterial roads must form part of this project package, to ensure that the traffic benefits of the project are “locked in” and not lost to induced demand.
- Extensions and improvements to the proposed cycle paths are required to ensure the project contributes to multi-modal transport benefits.
- The widening of State Highway 16 must be questioned and reassessed, as the documentation accompanying the application states it will not bring any congestion relief benefits – but will cause significant environmental effects. It is also noted that the State Highway 16 works have been “snuck into” this application – which is generally presented as only the Waterview Connection.
- Support of the designation’s protection of the Avondale-Southdown rail corridor.
If you feel inclined to make your own submission, you must ensure that the EPA receives your submission by 5.00pm, Friday 15 October 2010 at:
Environmental Protection Authority
Waterview Connection project
PO Box 10720
Or fax: 04 439 7714. Please mark in the subject line: “Waterview Connection project”.
You must also send a copy of your submission to the applicant, the NZTA, whose address for service is:
NZ Transport Agency
Attn: Deepak Rama
Waterview Connection Project
Private Bag 106602
Phone: 09 368 2001 or Fax: 09 969 9813
Outgoing ARC Transport Chair Christine Rose sent a thank you letter for our presentation on a cost effective alternative to the proposed toll road between Puhoi and Wellsford.
Enclosed with her letter was a the response from Transport Minister Steven Joyce. He makes the startling claim that:
While upgrading an existing road would appear to be the cheaper option, this is not actually the case. The initial investigations… show that upgrading the existing road to a four lane motorway standard would actually be the same or more expensive than constructing a new, purpose-built road.
As Christine points out, no information has been released to substiate the statement. Minister Joyce goes on to emphasise the freight aspect of the toll road:
The Puhoi to Wellsford RoNS has additional benefits as it caters for the movement of both passengers and freight – a key priority for the Government. As you may be aware, the National Freight Demands Study 2008 forecast that freight volumes between Auckland and Northland will double over the next 10 years.
No mention of the state owned railway line that also runs north. No mention of how much the toll will be from Puhoi to Wellsford. He also says that
The NZTA informs me that the cost of constructing a new road for the Puhoi to Wellsford RoNS is comparable with completing the Auckland CBD inner rail loop (without the significant upkeep costs). The number of users is also greater than an estimated 22,000 users per day for the Auckland rail network and 25,000 per day for the Puhoi to Warkworth section.
This is interesting as it indicates that the Minister apparently knows the patronage of the Auckland rail network after the CBD inner rail loop is finished (we’ve yet to see the business case) and the number of vehicles (users?) using the toll road. Presumably to figure this out he needs to know the toll that will be charged as well.
A copy of the letter is here.
Christine says the ARC understands that NZTA are planning consultation on more detailed proposals for the route before the end of the calendar year. Hopefully we get much more detailed information than has been provided so far.