Monday, May 04, 2009

Mt Albert and that motorway

One issue that both Labour and the Greens are making a big deal for the by-election is the Waterview motorway extension to SH20, which will link the soon to be finished Mt Roskill extension to the North Western motorway, effectively completing the Western Ring Road.

The bottom line is this:

Labour wants to bore a tunnel for the route (it isn't through a hill). This would come to around $2.8 billion. Note all the other sections of the Western Ring Road are open cut trenched motorways, note the total cost for the other six sections that have been built since 2000 is less than half this. In other words, you might wonder why the motorway through the former PM's electorate was to be a goldplated (but narrow) tunnel, but the other sections were left to be open motorways?

National is reviewing the alternatives, including a cut and cover tunnel, or an open cut road, like the other sections, on the ground it could save between $0.5 and $0.8 billion. It doesn't have Helen Clark on the end of the phone demanding her precious ex.electorate be protected from the big bad road.

The Greens don't want the road built at all, they want a railway line to connect west to south Auckland, and presumably prefer the roads between the two motorways to be congested. I guess they hope think road transport will become hienously expensive, and so everyone will use trains shooting past empty road.

Of course the decision will be made by this government. So which candidate is likely to make a difference to this?

Not Russel Norman. The government will ignore a local MP who says no road. Besides the Greens should be happy, they are getting their big electric train set.

Not David Shearer. He can jump up and down as much as he likes, but he wont have access to the government. Besides, there isn't enough money in the National Land Transport Fund to pay for more greenplated tunnels that aren't going under hills (the Victoria Park Tunnel will take enough money as it is thank you).

Melissa Lee? Well yes she will have access to Bill English and Steven Joyce, who will decide on the availability of extra money to the New Zealand Transport Agency, which in effect will determine the option selected. She is best placed to influence it.

On my part, I think it should be built when the private sector thinks it will be worth it, or at least when it is a better spend than paying for all the other roads that can be funded from road taxes.

Of course, Mt Albert voters might want to make a different choice. A choice about whether they want to vote for more government or less government.

It might be better to just wait to see who all the candidates will be, before making a choice.

UPDATE: ACT candidate John Boscawen has sensibly argued that the Waterview extension should be a surface level motorway, he isn't wanting to pillage taxpayers to placate local interests. He says "no more Buy election" which is quite clever, and in fact making it a surface motorway (like all the other sections) will make it far more affordable. Good for him, by contrast Labour was rolling out the pork for Mt Albert on this issue before the general election, and is doing the same now. (and credit to Gooner for his comment as I was typing this!).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree they should privatise the construction etc. But I did like ACT's press release:

No More Buy-Elections