For those out there interested in what the government, through NZTA, is going to be spending your petrol tax dollar on over the next few years, there is an interesting chart that shows what projects are hoped to be constructed over the next 5 years. There’s another chart that shows all projects that NZTA wishes to progress into a design phase over the next 5 years too – although for these ones construction will be further down the track. The government’s huge push to build state highways and ignore everything else (including local roads, maintenance of roads, walking and cycling initiatives and public transport) becomes fairly obvious with a bit of analysis of these proposed projects. In particular, the projects that are due to be investigated and designed over the next 5 years is a pretty amazing list.
Anyway, here is the list of projects below, split by the year in which they are expected to begin either shortlisting or tendering.
Now, obviously there’s a huge lack of public transport here. But that’s not necessarily surprising as the only public transport NZTA has ever built was the Northern Busway. However, apart from projects almost ready to go (like the Victoria Park tunnel) and those that nobody really has a clue about at all (Waterview Connection) there’s almost absolutely nothing in here for Auckland. Now, one could take the position that Auckland has got a pretty big share of NZTA spending over the past few years, to build the Western Ring Route (except Waterview of course) and to build all those spaghetti junction upgrades. However, it does seem strange that Auckland is planned to get so little in the future. Looking on the bright side, perhaps that will mean more of Auckland’s funds get put into public transport, walking and cycling, local roads and road maintenance. However, I do kind of doubt that this would happen and it seems more likely that National is dragging us back to the 1990s situation where Auckland paid for everyone else’s roads.
If we look at projects that are due to be in the design phase it becomes even more obvious where National are dragging things. The “roads of national significance” are really starting to show up here, and there are some pretty scary figures in terms of the possible costings for many of these projects.
At least we have a couple of public transport things in here – the two stages of a possible extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation Drive to Orewa. I think the first stage, Constellation Drive to Albany, is critical and would have significant benefits. Albany is definitely the start of the Northern Busway and it is a bit sub-standard that for this part of its route the busway effectively doesn’t really exist. The second part of the busway extension is a bit of a strange one really, as the motorway from Albany to Orewa pretty much never gets congested (so there’s no real advantage building bus lanes as the bus could travel along normal lanes just as fast) while there are also not particularly many buses that travel along that stretch of the motorway, at least not compared to the number of buses that go along the busway at the moment. There are certainly a lot more pressing public transport projects around, but I guess this is what happens when the one agency that does actually have some money (NZTA) is not the agency which has anything much to do at all with public transport. In the meanwhile, public transport has to beg around for rates dollars (harder to get than blood out of a stone) and crown grants for rail (as someone said the other day these can almost be worse than nothing, as they become political footballs continuously).
The other interesting aspect is once again how little Auckland is going to get out of proposed transportation projects over the next 5-10 years under these plans. I guess simply building the Waterview Connection is going to suck up most of our funds (assuming it gets consent), along with the stupid project of Orewa-Wellsford. Bay of Plenty and Waikato seem the huge winners here. Welcome back to the 1990s everyone.