14 March 2006

Wellington City not endorsing Transmission Gully

My views are pretty clear on this, but at least Wellington City Council is showing a bit of sense in digesting the Hearings Committee report before deciding what it thinks of it. It shows that once in a while, a local authority can have more common sense than MPs, which have jumped up and down like excited children at the chance to spend lots of money on a big project they would all claim is because of them - regardless of where the money came from and what projects lost out as a result. Porirua can't wait for its free ride, Kapiti can't wait for the thousands of new residents and the Hutt? Well, can't see quite what it gets out of having virtually no money for any new projects out that way after the Dowse to Petone project is finished.
The report is full of holes, and with journalists who don't even understand the transport funding system, questions don't get asked. Even DPF has discarded his usual willingness to weigh up the opportunity costs of policy options, and just wants the next three bureaucratic groups to rubber stamp it.
When you are talking about spending $1 billion - money that isn't just lying around, and more than any other roading project in New Zealand's history, and on a project with a benefit/cost ratio of less than 1:1 - you don't just rubber stamp it, unless a former rather authoritarian Prime Minister from the early 1980s is your role model.
and no, the Option 3/Green/anti-car crowd have it wrong too. A lot of money is planned for rail to Kapiti, it will enable the line to be fully utilised without being ridiculously uneconomic. There needs to be road construction, the question is how much and where.

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