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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A 30 year chat

At least thirty years ago Wellington started talking about getting a decent motorway out of the capital, heading North. A country of vision would have had an 8 lane highway, a dual express (like 300kph) train line, and safe cycling tracks between Wellington and Auckland by now. With good roads, it would have been a 6 hour trip. Maybe the toll would have been coming off next year.

Instead, after 30 years of pissing around consulting, investigating, much crying on how hard it is to build anything like roads, bridges, and the bloody pyramids of Egypt we have yet another consultation process.

It sounds like the consultation process is to say "dump Transmission Gully and we demolish lots of houses, coastline and a few businesses to build a coastal highway. It will take 24 years, and there will be constant roadworks all that time so you can write off about 5 years of your life sitting in queues"

This is getting beyond a joke. It was a joke about 15 years ago. Now its just pathetic. Here's the solution. Any person involved in discussing and consulting on Transmission Gully since 30 years ago, that held the process up in any way shape or form gets tracked down and given a shovel. They start digging.

Whilst they are digging they can discuss all the issues with 30 years of "expertise" and the combined knowledge of 30 years of reports, studies, guides, consultations, meetings, press releases, promises, backtracks and general crap. Whilst they are digging, we can play, on an I-Max sized screen a collection of road projects completed around the world in the past 100 years.

For the steep grades suggested for the route, they can be shown pictures of massive excavation. Tunnels. Big Earth Moving Equipment. Explosives.

I'm sure our consultative experts will soon figure out the benefits of supplementing their shovelling with some of the afore-mentioned equipment.

And once they get through to Paraparaumu, they can keep going up to Auckland.
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Posted by ZenTiger | 10/05/2005 10:01:00 am


Blogger coge said...

It should be about finding ways to get on & do the job. Instead they seem to spend that energy finding excuses not to do the job.
I was particularly inspired by a doco on the recent Hong Kong infrastructure works (airport, highway & harbour bridge). The work carried on 24/7 until they were completed. There was no doubt the jobs would get done.

There seems to be a lack of work ethic around here.

10/05/2005 10:37:00 am  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Zen, they probably are the very same central gummint people who have hummed and hahed (sp) for so long about Auckland. Were the Transmission Gully costing done on the same model as the Kyoto costings?

10/05/2005 10:51:00 am  
Blogger Lucia Maria said...

What they are really worried about is Urban Sprawl. The Evil Urban Sprawl must be stopped at all costs to keep the people stuffed in the cities and voting Labour. Auckland and Wellington both fall into this category.

And if anyone thinks I'm kidding, the Major of Wellington, Kerry Prentergast (spelling?) wrote an opinion piece in last weeks Dominion Post, going blah, blah, blah, Urban Sprawl Evil in a number of different ways and oh yeah, it'll bankrupt our region doing Transmission Gully. She just doesn't want her ratepayers escaping North where it's warmer and being able to commute down to the windy hole just to work.

10/05/2005 12:52:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

I used to think urban sprawl was bad. But it is better than the alternatives, as Owen McShane and Peter Cresswell have noted.
So called "smart growth" just restricts the supply of land, forcing up its price so we have to live in "rats nests" instead of having the god-old quarter-acre section.
New Zealand has heaps of room. Just go to the Bombay Hills, look south and there is nothing until you get to Hamilton. A country as big as Britain with a fifteenth of the population.
When I came here from the UK in 1998, I thought I would have a little lifestyle block. Instead I have my own "rats nest" a very comfortable rats nest with its own gym and pool, which I never have time to use.
I would much rather have a brick and tile bungalow in suburbia, than be on the 13th floor, but they are way too dear.
Yes, I can afford to buy my own rats nest, instead of renting, but there are now so many of them, their prices are dropping so the banks won't lend much on them, so my deposit money is not enough.
Typical! A university educated professional cannot buy either a house because they cost too much, or cannot raise the large deposit for a cheap and poky flat.
Thank you planners for this wonderful situation.
As for motorways, I think NZ also needs one from Auckland to Tauranga and a dual carriageway from Auckland to Whangarei.
A 4-lane spur to Rotorua would also be useful.

10/05/2005 01:31:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

A six-laner (or even decent four-laner) between Auckland and Wellington would spur development of high-value agriculture and redevelopment of all the little towns along the route. Surely that's one infrastructure project both righties and lefties can agree on. You could even upgrade the main train line.

10/05/2005 01:50:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Agreed. I'd like to see decent highways connecting major centres. With a separate high speed train from Auckland to Wellington, with a few stop overs (like Hamilton and Palmerston North) we'd have a major alternative to fog bound airports.

We could even make better use of Palmerston Airport, if the high speed train could get from Wellington to Palmerston in an hour.

We'd actually use less fuel on efficient roads, help transport, build up the smaller communities and have a good base infrastructure to build the population to around 8 million. Just imagine the tax the government can collect with double the workers.

And as Darren noted, we are the land size of Britain with a fraction of the population. We can handle it.

But not with the current mentality in place in government. Tax big, spend little, keep the rest to encourage more beneficiaries living in state houses in the center of the city to cut down transport pressures. Wonderful.

I also note many of the base assumptions the planners use to decide on coastal upgrade versus Transmission Gully are very suspect. There is also this thought that the rate payers should pay for a motorway out of Wellington, as if it doesn't lead anywhere after the last suburb. Put a toll on the thing, and be amazed at how many people and businesses use it anyway.

10/05/2005 02:10:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

I have said the same before AL.
When I edited a paper in Thames, I said the town's threatened hospital would be viable if nearby Paeroa had 20,000 people and it was next to an M2 Auckland-Tauranga motorway.
When I edited a paper in Dargaville, and Maungaturoto had just lost its last bank, I said if the township was bigger and bypassed by an M1 going north, then Maungaturoto might even have been a banking centre.
Instead of Auckland getting all stressed up and congested, and thus becoming increasingly unpleasant, I say let it breathe.
Allow/encourage hundreds of thousands of people to live along 'growth corridors' where they would certainly enjoy a much better quality of life.
When Auckland is supposed to have 2 million people in 2050, I bet the place will be a hell hole.

10/05/2005 02:13:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

It's a rather odd mentality isn't it. Infill housing at Albany up north and at Botany Downs to the southeast and out west, but few new projects along the length of State Highway 1 south out of Auckland.

10/05/2005 02:25:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

Yes, horrid little terraces at Albany.
And those nice houses in Dannemora would look so much better with some garden in front of them.

10/05/2005 02:32:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

Yes, horrid little terraces at Albany.
And those nice houses in Dannemora would look so much better with some garden in front of them.

10/05/2005 02:32:00 pm  
Blogger tincanman said...

Guys, I'm in two minds on this one.

Connecting Cape Town to Johannesburg is the N1. A massive, multilaned monstrosity that has a multitude of lanes. It's 180 - 240 km/h blacktop begging for a decent German automobile. But that killed all the small towns, you don't even have to drive through them to pee or fill up now, because the Caltex/BPs/Blahs have sprung up like a glittering oasis across the motorway.

I can see the business advantage to this, but would not like to see small town NZ relegated to off ramps and byways. In a decent car nowadays you could probably make it to Wellington (Sure, it takes me four fuel stops to get to Palmerston North, but I only have a 25l tank) and that would leave no reason to drive through/stop in 'old' New Zealand.

But spread out the metropolitan areas, please.

10/05/2005 02:36:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Well I don't think anyone is suggesting a 10-lane monstrosity (pretty pointless - imagine the sight of one car per km of road).

10/05/2005 02:54:00 pm  
Blogger Ashley Clarkson said...

There's a lot of roading that needs building in the North Island, and not a load of cash to go around sadly. It seems that instead of trying to spread it thinly, these projects need to be prioritised and receive the money they need in one hit.

So for example, one year Wellington gets $1.1 Billion (the report I read said $950 million, but I guess prices have gone up since then) to build Transmission Gully (they can stick it in an account and let it build interest while they chip away at the building of it). Then the next year they set aside the cash to finish the four laning for the Waikato Expressway etc. etc.

Problem is then we'd have progress. And poor Kerry wouldn't have her rates from her inner city slums. So it will never happen.

10/05/2005 03:38:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

Coming from the UK, I find petrol really cheap. (Its a quid a litre there)
Now, this argument may not find much favour from some quarters, but it is the purest form of user pays around.
Put an extra 10-20 cents or so a litre on petrol, with ALL the extra going on roads.
The issue I have with tolls is that I believe in the freedom of the open road.
Tolls are also inefficient as they misallocate roadspace between empty motorways and congested roads.
In other words, people may try and avoid using the better tollroad in favour of the congested free alternative. An alternative that might be dangerous, if it went through built-up areas, had nasty bends, etc.
Toll roads waste much money on revenue collection - I believe a quarter raised from the SH1 North extension will go this way.
Or you waste money on e-toll devices, say several hundred dollars per vehicle, plus more on complicated tracking and billing processes.
I also think there is something dodgy if the government or some roading authority knows where you are.
Imagine getting your monthly roads bill and the wife says:
"And what were you doing going to Rotorua last weekend when I was at my mother's." :)

However, if there was no alternative, I would quite happily pay $20 or so to get quickly and safely say to Hamilton, Whangarei or Tauranga.
$100 to Wellington seem fair??

10/05/2005 03:50:00 pm  

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