Puford Toll Road – Is It Worth It?

Writing in the Rodney Times, Warkworth resident Bob Scott has this to say on the Holiday Highway toll road:

Your story on the front page of the Rodney Times of the Still family who are destined to have their dreams shattered by the motorway extension only tells a small part of a tragic story.

The NZ Transport Agency is admitting that 29 homes will be bulldozed, and in a rural community that is a huge number of families whose lives will be devastated. Many people will have some of their land taken, which will impact hugely on their lifestyles. As well as this, there are a huge number of families (mine included) whose lives will be changed forever by being robbed of their views and tranquility, the very reason that we moved to the area.

We have already been told that we will have no prospect of any compensation as the transport agency is on the defensive and hiding behind the Public Works Act to fend off any questions in this direction.

In addition, those of us who live on one of the motorway construction sites will have to endure six years of disruption from heavy construction traffic. All this, in the words of project director Brett Gliddon, to “shave five to seven minutes off trips between Auckland and Warkworth”.

Is it really worth it, just to save five to seven minutes?

Surely a better solution would be to spend some of this money on upgrading the existing SH1 to make it save lives. The Warkworth bypass, safety improvements in the Dome Valley and improvements further north spring to mind.

Spend the rest on other projects to help the development of Northland, such as high-speed internet links, development of the rail link to Marsden Point, encouragement of low value goods such as logs onto rail and barges and new forestry, horticultural and agricultural initiatives to take advantage of the unique topography and climate.

At a cost of $980m to the taxpayer and a huge amount of misery for those of us affected, surely someone out there can see sense.

Or is the motorway extension really just an excuse to benefit the property developers, shopping mall companies and road building companies in Auckland and not for the benefit of this region at all?

It is even more sobering to think that none of the hardship described above is factored into the already dismal benefit cost analysis for this project.

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