Monday, June 23, 2008

Transmission Gully non-announcement?

The Dominion Post today is reporting the rather exagerrated comment that the Transmission Gully boondoggle cargo cult "has passed a crucial hurdle" without actually saying at all what that is.

It isn't resource consents, it doesn't have those.

It isn't funding, it doesn't have that (and the funding earmarked for this project reduces in value every year due to inflation).

It isn't owning the land, that hasn't happened either.

It could be the completion of the investigation phase, but I thought that had happened.

The "government green light" could only mean funding, Transit board approval to proceed to the design phase or some special porkbarrel approval to change the law to bypass the RMA. If it is the "next phase of planning", it is simply design. Don't get too excited.

I do note finally someone has noted that costs don't remain static and it now costs $1.025 billion - for one road (I said $1.04 billion a few month ago). That makes it more expensive than any other road project in the country that us well developed other than the Waterview extension in Auckland, tunnelled under the PM's electorate.

Meanwhile Peter Dunne remains obsessed about it (Wellington needs another outlet, besides the current highway, State Highway 2, the two railways, the airport, the sea, the Akatarawas).

The enthusiasts all want a regional Wellington petrol tax (because you see, the users wont pay the toll necessary to pay for it - which tells you how bad a project it is), and tolls and "some other source" of funding. So if Wellingtonians are worried about petrol prices now, it seems Labour and United Future would increase petrol taxes to help pay for one road, and find other money elsewhere to pay for it OH and have you pay a toll, and demote the current highway (lower speed limits) so you'd have to use Transmission Gully for through traffic.

Nothing like politicians trying to buy the votes of some people by taxing the hell out of everyone else. Remember the extra Wellington petrol tax would also increase GST so 5c/l becomes 5.625c/l, remember also that Wellington region includes Wairarapa - how many people there will use Transmission Gully? How about Upper Hutt residents? How about all those Wellingtonians who DON'T commute by car from Kapiti every day, or DON'T have properties there?

Yep, and will National say it's a bad idea?

UPDATE: Yes I was write, investigations are over and the price is over a billion. The government is saying it has saved $275 million, which is only if you take a saving over the Land Transport NZ index of costs (an inflation that the government is hardly immune from blame over). Of course the "saving" is a nonsense, because the money doesn't exist to pay for it, or hasn't been taken from taxpayers yet. A toll wont come remotely close to being enough to fund it, neither would a 5c/l petrol tax on all Wellington motorists.

The Q&As are a nonsense. The project now has a preferred route, but landowners need to be talked to, property needs purchasing, and detailed design will determine exactly what the costs are likely to be. It's not that significant. The big issue remains funding - and more importantly why should motorists, ratepayers and general taxpayers pay for a road most of them wont use, and which by and large simply delivers property value windfalls to Kapiti residents, as it effectively subsidises car commuting from Kapiti to Wellington - not exactly lowering CO2 emissions is it?

UPDATE: The NZ Herald gets it wrong too. Transmission Gully hasn't "got the go ahead", it has funding for design. Property purchases not complete, no resource consent granted, no funding to built it. Come on, how hard is it to do more than report what politicians say? You could actually do a little research!

1 comment:

Anthony Randell said...

Nice article - interesting analysis. I wonder how many law changes they'll need to force this through (RMA, compulsory land purchase, forcible removal of squatters by bull dozer etc).

Minor typo: "UPDATE: Yes I was write"