Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bullshit about the Waterview Connection

There is so much so I thought I'd clear up some myths:

1. First the easy one to get out of the way, the one spread by some friends on the right - the route for this motorway has NOT been designated at ALL, the motorway designation for SH20 starts at Manukau and ended at Richardson Road. There is a gap thanks to Auckland local authorities dithering and abandoning the Avondale peninsula route option in the 1970s. So please don't believe private property rights for those on the route can be ignored - they did NOT buy land on a motorway route.

2. Idiot Savant says the announcement by the NZTA on the preferred route for the Waterview connection is “an affront to democracy”. Complete bollocks. When did people vote for the route of ANY road? It never happened for any other section of the Western Ring Route, nor the Northern Gateway, nor the Waikato Expressway, nor the Christchurch Southern Motorway. The system is designed to be a rational appraisal based on statutory criteria, not on counting the heads of the loudest. The USA has that, and you see bridges collapse due to lack of political interest. It is entirely within the role of NZTA to decide on its preferred route as the government wont be borrowing to pay for a greenplated route.

3. He also talks nonsense in claiming “the plan centres on using an existing rail designation for a motorway. So, Auckland won't be getting a proper rail-based public transport network because National will have already built a stinking great road there.” Funnily enough there remains room for the motorway there (the map he links to shows this) and even ARTA has no plans to built the Avondale-Southdown railway till 2030. The project isn’t worth it, so to claim Auckland “wont be getting a proper rail-based public transport network” because one line that would be barely used isn’t to be built, is extreme hyperbole.

4. Bomber at Tumeke thinks it is a conspiracy with National favouring its big business mates at Macquaries and hating public transport. For starters, Labour’s plans would have benefited Macquaries far more as it would have been a bigger scheme and a PPP. On top of that, the Waterview connection wont be tolled, nor will it be a PPP, Macquaries provides finance for PPP toll roads, it isn’t in the road construction business in New Zealand. The company can't benefit from this decision at all. So that makes this conspiracy theory totally fatuous. Tim Selwyn posts more intelligently on the issue to be fair.

5. The Standard tries to spin that the government is misleading on costs, something that NZTA clears up quite quickly. It also makes some of the same mistakes as others do.

All options require work at SH16 worth $242 million.

Labour wanted a four lane bored tunnel. $1.974 billion. National is now proposing a four lane mix of surface, bored tunnel and cut and cover tunnel at $1.165 billion, with provision for six laning built in (Labour’s option did not allow for that). That’s over $800 million difference. To put that in context, Transit’s total budget last year for ALL state highways activities was $1.2 billion. So National's proposal saves a lot of money, AND allows for future growth.

Labour had proposed a PPP for the motorway, so financing costs (interest) of $554 million had been included for its option. However, Labour had NO budgetary provision for the motorway at all. Financing costs are the costs of paying a PPP operator to borrow, build and operate the road. The money to pay the PPP operator would still need to come from somewhere

It did not know whether it would pay it back through general taxes or the National Land Transport Fund, or even some contribution from tolls. So the money for this motorway had to come from somewhere as yet unidentified. National is taking the money from road users, through the National Land Transport Fund. There isn’t enough revenue from road users to fund Labour’s proposal, so general taxpayers would have had to subsidise it.

In short, there was never money to build this motorway before (there was money for investigation and design), National has chosen one option (the most fair one, as it means road users pay for a road). Labour either would have to have chosen the same option, and take money from general taxation (from other spending like health), or take all the money from general taxation.

What National DOES need to answer is what the National Land Transport Programme looks like for the next few years. That will come out in June. Then we will all know how projects have been reprioritised to help fund this strategic section of motorway, although it will be a couple of years before construction can commence.

Finally, doesn’t this all show you how utterly inept arguments about things become when they are political? There is an alternative – it has been done in Australia – it means telling the private sector it can build, own and operate the road, and toll it, pick the route and do it all itself. It can even be paid a share of roading taxes collected from using the new road. Decisions like this should not be up to politicians – because they spend money like teenagers given dad’s credit card.

13 comments:

Seamonkey Madness said...

"Decisions like this should not be up to politicians – because they spend money like teenagers given dad’s credit card."And that is why David Shearer should STFU.

Melissa Lee also hasn't done herself any favours by spewing forth that the surfaced part of the proposed road will stop burglars invading from South Auckland.

If I was being kicked out of my house/home/castle by a State Highway project, I would have at least the good grace to accept my fate and my compensation (at market rates), and realise that I will actually be doing the country some good by (a) not costing the the government/taxpayers another BILLION by doing twin-bored tunnels; and (b) letting them get on with the job of providing a vital new link in the SH network.

Tommy said...

When they "escalate" the costs to 2015 dollars, what factor do they use? what would that table look like quoted in 2009 dollars?

(page 11 in the media briefing)

Owen said...

I just hope they put in a few more on/off ramps than what is shown on the maps, say around the New North road area, then its far more usefull to people in Avondale and surrounds..

jarbury said...

I'm not convinced that the railway designation hasn't been screwed over.

From my blog post today ( http://transportblog.co.nz/2009/05/14/another-waterview-connection-post/ ):

There is another aspect of this proposal that greatly worries me, and that is its effects upon the designated Avondale-Southdown Railway Corridor. This railway link has been designated since the 1940s, and while its cross-town nature means that it’s unlikely to be one of Auckland’s most popular passenger train routes, it may be an essential north-south freight link in the future. Freight trains currently have to run via Newmarket if they want to go from the north to the south, and as passenger train frequencies increase in the future it will become increasingly difficult to fit in freight trains. Therefore, for the long-term benefit of Auckland’s rail system it is imperative to keep this rail corridor available.

However, NZTA plans through the Alan Wood Reserve (which is largely designated as a rail corridor) indicate that the rail designation is going to be sacrificed. Comparing various maps it’s obvious that the motorway will go on land that is currently designated for rail.

The NZTA diagrams show how they anticipate to be able to fit both the motorway and the railway line between the motorway and any houses along the southern side of Hendon Ave, but critically I think that the new railway corridor will be outside its existing designation area – which will in the long run make it far more difficult for Ontrack to ever re-designate the land in order to build the Avondale Southdown railway link. Effectively, NZTA are screwing Ontrack out of their designation and making it much much harder for Ontrack to ever be able to complete the Avondale Southdown line. Of course, Ontrack would have the right to tell NZTA to bugger off out of their designation – but as both organisations have Steven Joyce as their Minister I imagine the hard word went on Ontrack to give their OK. The typical cross-section of Alan Wood Reserve is shown below:

As diagrams show, the 25m rail corridor goes through the houses. But that won’t be NZTA’s problem, that will be Ontrack’s problem in the future.

Just another example of public transport being screwed.

Anonymous said...

This is LiberyScott - right - what's some train-loving-socilaist doing here?

NZTA trashing the train line is a good thing. Hopefully the first of many.

But I still think this 4-lane hybrid scheme is crap.

We should get real: get a bunch of Caterpillar D9s; smash down space for a 12 lane road, build 6 lanes each way as a start - and pay for it all by a PPP.

Of course we call toll the whole lot retrospectively, worked fine in melbourne, will work here too. Fuck it, I'd toll Wellington (especially) and Chch motorway to pay for it! Then with an income stream, we most certainly can go PPP with MacBank.

trucker said...

One thing confuses me with the PT v Roading argument.

Much stock is put on the problem caused by the road dividing communities, but the same argument does no appear for rail. Surely the two are equal in terms of dividing a community, irrespective of the width of the division.

I accept that there will be division, but can not understand how one is OK and the other not.

jarbury said...

Anonymous, the Ministry of Transport's own figures showed that even a $2 toll would put off enough people to make building the road unviable. To support your 12 lane monster motorway you'd need about a $25 toll - and nobody would ever use it.

Trucker, I guess the difference is width. A 6 lane motorway is a heck of a lot wider than 2 railway tracks. Electric trains also do have harmful emissions. Internationally you find a lot of communities built around train stations, which you just don't see with motorway interchanges.

But I do see your point to some extent, that both motorways and railway lines need to be carefully designed to avoid cutting communities in half. It's just easier to achieve such mitigation with a railway line.

Keith Ng said...

So please don't believe private property rights for those on the route can be ignored - they did NOT buy land on a motorway route.To be fair, I know of quite a few properties along the route that are owned by Transit. Not all, of course - and it doesn't detract from your argument.

When did people vote for the route of ANY road? ... The system is designed to be a rational appraisal based on statutory criteria, not on counting the heads of the loudest.There *was* substantial support for the tunnel option, even though it did involve disruption and demolitions etc. You can't just discount consultation on the basis that no vote was cast and not every voice was heard. They're not the same, sure, but they're both part of the democratic process.

Finally, doesn’t this all show you how utterly inept arguments about things become when they are political? There is an alternative – it has been done in Australia – it means telling the private sector it can build, own and operate the road, and toll it, pick the route and do it all itself.Yeah, but how feasible is it to build a road without last resort statutory powers to overrule property rights? If it was purely on a willing buyer willing seller basis, property owners can exact an extortionary price for their property.

And whether we use those statutory power is the argument here: where should the line be drawn between private property rights and public good? That's as purely political a question as it gets, isn't it?

libertyscott said...

Keith: That shows that Transit now NZTA is actually fairly prudent about entering the property purchase market as part of long term planning/

Well yes there was support, but then consultation is hardly "democratic". There is now a new process of consultation required, and different resource consents needed. Nobody is running roughshod over any process, simply the money for a consulted option isn't going to be available.

Indeed it IS the core political argument, but the whole private sector functions fine without eminent domain in NZ. The issue is unlikely to arise if planning is done well in advance, and if it does arise then roads get kinks in them, tunnels and bridges to get around it. The road is NOT sacred and maybe paying high prices to buy land for roads SHOULD be part of what that sector expects - certainly far more reasonable than propping up the alternative modes inefficiently.

Anonymous said...

Hi i just wanted to point out that the statement: "...even ARTA has no plans to built the Avondale-Southdown railway till 2030", is completely wrong. Have a look on the ARTA site for yourselves. There you'll see that ARTA has plans for that particular corridor to be used sometime btween 2016 and 2030. 2030 is the projected year of completion.

Anonymous said...

Hi I just want to point out that the statement: "...even ARTA has no plans to built the Avondale-Southdown railway till 2030", is completely wrong. If anyone wants to check the ARTA site for themselves you'll find that that particular rail corridor is to be used sometime between 2016 and 2030. 2030 is the projected completion date.

libertyscott said...

So until it is completed it wont be used, 14 years to build a railway? Oh please. It will NEVER be built.

Anonymous said...

sorry, Imeant to say the completion date for the entire ntework. Please read you sources carefully.