Thursday, August 25, 2011

Annoy the Greens - support a road

OK, so this may be a bit of mischief making, but given that the Greens use public consultation processes as a chance to lobby and gain publicity, I figured that a few of you might want to respond in kind.  Especially since the Greens are telling enormous porkies in their anti-road campaign.

Now this project basically involves completing the four laning of Wellington Road and Ruahine Street to a second Mt Victoria Tunnel, and a flyover from the existing tunnel to Buckle St so through traffic bypassing the city can bypass the crowded Basin Reserve roundabout.   The section to be fixed is the only remaining major bottleneck between the city and the airport, given half of the route has been a four lane 70km/h highway since the airport opened.  At the city end the one-way system the Greens were prepared to stand in front of bulldozers to stop, feeds the traffic to and from the motorway to the north of the region. 

All of the land involved in this project was designated for road widening or the tunnel duplication over 40 years ago, and much of it is held by the NZTA for this purpose. None of it should be news as it was envisaged by the De Leuw Cather report on Wellington transport in the early 1960s that proposed the Wellington Urban Motorway (fully built as far as Bowen St, half built to Vivian St then unbuilt) and an underground railway extension to Courtenay Place. However, the Greens (and its ginger group Campaign for Better Transport) are opposing it, because it is a road, and trucks and cars will use it.  They would prefer those going by car to catch the bus, or to spend a fortune of other people's money on their favourite totem - a rail scheme, which of course would lose a lot of money, to be paid for by other people's money, and wouldn't meet the needs of most of the road users.  

There is already a limited stop commercially viable bus service running every 15 minutes that bypasses the congestion from the airport to the city and the Hutt, with free wifi - so there isn't a lack of public transport.

Now you’d expect the Greens to focus their efforts on the most expensive (and permanent) part of the plan and to oppose the second tunnel because it will remove a major bottleneck that slows down car and truck traffic from the airport and eastern suburbs. The effect will be for buses to be less competitive, because many use a parallel one-way bus only tunnel to bypass the congestion. On top of that it doesn’t have a positive benefit/cost ratio, an argument used to oppose extending Auckland’s Northern Motorway to Wellsford, but curiously ignored whenever the Greens advocate rail based projects (unless the results are gerrymandered to suit the outcome sought).

However, the Greens aren’t opposing a second Mt Victoria Tunnel, not loudly anyway. They are opposing the Basin Reserve flyover – because it is a flyover.

The flyover is the part of the project with the best economic return and it will have the most positive impact on pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Why? Because reducing about a third of the traffic flow around the Basin will allow for longer crossing phases for pedestrians, and for cycle lanes to be established along with bus lanes. Buses coming from Adelaide Road towards the city wont face queues backing up from Buckle St. However, these facts get in the way of the ideological tunnel-vision of the anti-car, anti-road lobby.   The bridge is "ugly" and part of an “outdated vision” because apparently nowhere else in the world are cities building new roads – except everywhere of course. A few hundred metres of two lane one way road over a roundabout wouldn’t get people excited in Melbourne, Oslo, Vancouver or Paris, but it’s a road, so it’s evil.

Some are pushing for an alternative plan, which doesn't work because it rules out two current major movements (between Adelaide Rd and Mt Victoria Tunnel).

So if you want to show your support for the people who pay for state highways (the whole project is fully fundable from fuel taxes and road user charges), then put in a quick submission in support.  You can be sure the Greens will have rounded up a few thousand to oppose it - because it's a road.

There is an online form here.  So support a decent highway from Wellington airport to the city, indeed from the growing media and film sector based in Miramar to the city.

Oh and the deadline is today.

UPDATE:  See the Greens are already seeking you support their groupthink agitprop.

Some of the nonsense written by Gareth Hughes:

"Wellington needs urgent investment in public transport and safer cycling and walking".

Really? Beyond the hundreds of millions spent on brand new trains, extending electrification to Waikanae, upgrading the Johnsonville line for new trains, upgraded stations, new rail infrastructure, new trolley buses?  What's unsafe with cycling and walking? Missing a footpath? 

"It certainly doesn’t need an 8 metre high flyover that will deface much of Wellington’s heritage precinct including the war memorial, the Mother Aubert crèche and the Basin Reserve."

Much? You mean between Buckle Street and Mt Victoria Tunnel?  That's "much" of the heritage precinct? Deface by having a bridge skirt the northern side?  Hyperbole again.

"In particular, we support light rail from the CBD out to the airport."

Of course you do.  You have a religious passion for light rail.  Forget it would cost hundreds of millions, lose money, not relieve congestion, put a privately run commercial unsubsidised bus service out of business, and not meet the needs of freight or people travelling from outside the CBD to the airport - it's light rail, bow down and get excited, it's cool man.

"Wellingtonians do not need an uneconomic urban motorway that will take out dozens of homes, depreciate land value, reduce the town belt and increase air and noise pollution."

It isn't an urban motorway.  The homes are either state owned or on land long designated for road widening.  The effect on the town belt is derisory, and there isn't evidence it will increase pollution.

"Cities such as Seoul and Seattle regretted building flyovers in their cities and have replaced them with attractive and spacious urban design."

One in Seoul, plenty more remain.  In Seattle it was weakened by an earthquake and it is now being replaced with a tolled bored tunnel highway - exactly the type of bypass for Wellington you all opposed.   Such a conspicuous lie.

"There is no evidence to suggest there is a need for such a costly and imposing roading project." Several kilometre long traffic queues for 1.5 hours every morning from Mt Victoria Tunnel, and the same around Oriental Bay.  No, no evidence at all.  Long evening queues southbound towards the Basin holding up all traffic, including buses heading for Newtown.  No evidence.

"demand for better public transport is sky-rocketing".  Which is why the airport bus frequencies have improved.  More fare revenue, but then you don't really approve of anyone making money from transport.

"In the short-term, better traffic signalling and bus priority measures would largely mitigate congestion around the Basin at a fraction of the cost."

Says who? The architects who developed a "solution" that prohibits traffic movement between the tunnel and Newtown?  How would this mitigate the queue from Mt Victoria Tunnel

"Light rail through the CBD out to the airport is a cheaper and more sustainable option that would  alleviate congestion and offer commuters an affordable option in the face of future oil price rises."

Cheaper?  How?  Don't have a price do you?  Loses how much money?  Where in the world have new light rail schemes alleviated congestion?  How is it an option for freight, or people going to/from the airport from the rest of the region?  How is it affordable when you need to increase rates or other taxes to pay for it?

Just loads of empty vacuous spin, worshipping the altar of new subsidised railways, freight is invisible, as are any people not travelling to and from the CBD.

They are even so backwards in thinking that they don't push congestion charging, bit too much "user pays" and high tech for a party that loves trams?

What's really pathetic is that the Greens have stopped arguing against new roads because of them not being economic, but chooses to lie about what they will do and the basis for them.

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