National has released its Waterview plan. Basically a trench rather than a tunnel, and a few hundred more homes knocked down. They reckon it will cost $1.4 billion. What’s missing from the costing?
Financing costs were included in the cost of the tunnel to inflate it to $2.77 billion but are excluded from the trench option. The excuse for that is there is enough money in the National Land Transport Programme for the cheaper option but that doesn’t stack up. The opportunity cost is still the amount the Government could reduce borrowing if it weren’t paying for the motorway, so if the tunnel needed finance costs included so does the trench. If we’re comparing apples with apples, that’s going to be another $300 million on top of the $1.4 billion before even turning a spadeful of soil.
The route uses a designated rail corridor, so there’s an opportunity cost there too. Again, unaccounted for.
Then, there’s the lost amenity value to the community. That’s isn’t just nice fuzzy stuff. It will be reflected in decreases in the value of hundreds of houses – the ones standing beside the ones that have been bulldozed. Full costings include amenity value – this one doesn’t.
Add to that the cost of delay. The community has vowed to fight this plan to the end. So we’re going to see years and years of hold ups in the Environment Court. National is planning an end run around that with its RMA reforms and roads of national significance but that’s going to end in more law suits taking even more time.
$1.4 billion doesn’t such a bargain when you start to add the real costs, eh?
NZTA hopes to start bulldozing in two years. They’ll be lucky. If they start before the next oil shock they’ll be doing well. Even without another oil shock the already falling traffic volumes and improvements to Dominion Rd are easing congestion in Mt Albert.
If National is still in government when their trench is completed, they might just find they’re left with a six-lane white elephant.