Joyce Trashes Mt Albert

Written By: - Date published: 9:31 am, May 13th, 2009 - 40 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: ,

Spinner

Joyce: selectively lying with numbers

Yesterday the long wait for a decision on the Waterview Connection somewhat ended. The full picture will become more obvious today, once NZTA release their prefered alignment for the route, and how much of it – if any – will be trenched or tunneled.

For now, we know that the full tunnel option is off the cards, dismissed as being completely unaffordable by Steven Joyce. That option, which comprised of $1.98 billion in construction costs, $240 million of necessary upgrades to the Northwest Motorway and $550 million of ‘financing costs’, had blown out from $1.89 billion to $2.77 billion. This ‘blow out’ wasn’t due to the actual costs of construction increasing particularly much, but because upgrades to a completely different motorway were included and also because of the project’s cost money for it would have to be borrowed – so therefore interest would have to be paid. To the tune of $550 million even.

Joyce’s proposal today comes in at a cost of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion. This includes the $240 million for upgrading the Northwest Motorway but not the $550 million financing costs (though they were quite convenient for Joyce whilst they hung around). This means that there will be between $760 million and $1.16 billion left for building the actual Waterview connection.

So what can one get for between $760 million and $1.16 billion? The answer – I think – is not particularly much. Clearly $760 million is the “cheapest and nastiest” option available – probably a surface level option that would go straight through the Oakley Creek Waterfall and have very little environmental mitigation. The other two options that the NZTA are considering sound a bit better, according to the NZ Herald:

The cheapest alternative option is all above ground and the other two are a mixture of road and tunnel.

However, I really don’t know how anything half-decent can be built for $1.16 billion, let alone $760 million. The Ministry of Transport’s own analysis of the options gave a total of $1.456 billion for the construction of an “Open Cut” 4 lane option – presumably this means trenching large chunks of the motorway but tunneling none. Something $300 million cheaper than that isn’t going to be pretty.

I do feel sorry for not only the people of Mt Albert, but also all residents and tax-payers who have been manipulated by these ever-changing figures. Whilst it is true that the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) couldn’t have paid for all the full tunnel option, for some reason it can pay for all $1.16 billion of Joyce’s prefered option now, but not any of the $1.98 billion tunnel. Therefore, financing costs get completely lumped on the tunnel option, but not at all on Joyce’s option. That makes up to a $550 million difference. Furthermore, the NLTF has already been screwed around by Steven Joyce to fund new state highways at the cost of everything else (including local roads, roads maintenance, public transport, walking and cycling initiatives). Including the Waterview Connection in that fund will further squeeze these other areas out.

So where to from here? I guess soon we will find out exactly what the NZTA has chosen for its prefered alignment. For the sake of the people of Mt Albert and Waterview I sincerely hope it’s not the $760 million “cheapest and nastiest” option. Previously, residents would have had a reasonable chance to submit against the driving of a motorway through their suburb – in fact it was residents’ action that knocked back Auckland’s Eastern Motorway as well as the reworking of the Onehunga Interchange in the Manukau Harbour Crossing Project. A submitter could have also pointed out the dodgy workings that came up with 73% of the Waterview Connection’s benefits (just a cool $2.620 billion) being internationally criticised time-savings benefits. But sadly, Steven Joyce kindly let’s us know that we won’t easily have that opportunity – thanks to the conveniently timed amendments to the Resource Management Act.

His words:

Depending on the final scope of the project it could be possible to begin construction in 2011 and complete the project within about four years. As a Road of National Significance this is expected to be progressed under the call-in process of the new provisions of the Resource Management Act which will significantly speed up delivery of the project.

So submitters will need to make their case straight to the environment court, or a specially formed board. There will be no local public hearings, the council will not be making decisions or recommendations on this project. So much for: ‘A thorough consultation process on the form of the selected option will then commence before a final decision is made.’

But then we’re learning what this government thinks of consultation.

jarbury

PDF: NZTA Business case for the Waterview connection

40 comments on “Joyce Trashes Mt Albert”

  1. vto 1

    goodness what a shamambles!

    glad I dont live in mt albert. or anywhere near anything like a vehicular corridor for that matter.

    so what part does clark’s placement of the tunnel in the first, unrealistic, place play? seems like she played hard and fast with her own constituents with regard to any truths etc as well.

  2. The NLTF deserves more detailed comment and analysis. There is NO money in it for the Waterview motorway. My impression was that the last government were going to stump up with the cost by way of a Crown grant.

    If Waterview is funded from the NLTF then it will suck approximately $200m per annum from next year to 2015. This is about a tenth of the total fund. The only way to do it is to cut spending on all of the activity classes, for instance Passenger Transport capital works and subsidies, local roads, alternatives to roading, maintenance …

    Now I wonder if the mainstream media will actually do an analysis of the figures. Should I hold my breath?

  3. lprent 3

    The arguments inside Mt Albert were long and hard. Like virtually all Mt Albert residents (and ex-residents like me), Helen was originally opposed to the connection, especially if it went through Oakley creek. Some of her comments in LEC were ‘interesting’.

    She (like me) was eventually convinced that the motorway would be useful for the rest of Auckland – mainly North Harbour and Albany. Along with others, she pushed the LTSA for other options than simply whacking a noisy and separating surface motorway through residential Mt Albert. It was a low priority on the LTSA’s schedule, so would require tolling to put in early.

    Turned out the cost differences were not as high as the LTSA originally predicted. So she helped convince the people in the electorate to accept the tunnel. If that is off the table, then the opposition is back. Now it is to stop the motorway entirely.

  4. There were a range of options considered by NZTA over a number of years. You can see the costings for all of them on the last page of this document: http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Katrina-09/Business-case-for-the-Waterview-Connection.pdf (someone probably should upload that file to somewhere else, I imagine the MoT may remove it from their site soon).

    The cheapest option considered was a $1.456 billion Open Cut option. By contrast the twin tunnels were $1.89 billion when first costed. Therefore the difference was around $450 million – probably worth the extra money when you consider the social and environmental costs of an Open Cut option.

    I still believe that the financing costs were added on for political reasons, as have been (to a lesser extent) the SH16 upgrade costs.

    Now I don’t know how NZTA have come up with options with construction costs of between $760 million and $1.16 billion. But as you can’t get something for nothing, an option significantly cheaper than “Open Cut” is likely to be significantly worse. Otherwise, why were those options not considered earlier?

    Either NZTA were idiots for 6 years when coming up with the original costing of the options, or there’s something dodgy going on here. I’m picking the latter.

    [lprent: Attached copy of PDF to end of post ]

  5. vidiot 5

    Just a bad case of NIMBY.

    It was on the cards for years, hell that’s why there was all that unused land between Hillsborough & Hendon park.

    Build a bridge, get over it or join a group.

  6. …hell that’s why there was all that unused land between Hillsborough & Hendon park.

    I guess you’ve never heard of the proposed Avondale-Southdown Railway Line.

    • vidiot 6.1

      Well considering the ASRL wasn’t proposed until a few years ago. And yes, why not do both at same time, stick a rail corridor down the median between the east/west road lines ?

      It would still allow for sideways expansion of the motorway system.

      I just hope that it’s planned & implemented right – ie. dedicated on ramps that go all the way to the next off ramp (see Greenlane to Market Road, Newmarket to Market Road) and I hope none of the xmas light drag launch lights either.

      Build it and they shall come.

      • jarbury 6.1.1

        The Avondale Southdown Railway Line has been DESIGNATED since the 1940s. Unlike the Waterview Connection, which won’t be designated for another couple of years.

      • lprent 6.1.2

        If they come, let them pay…

      • jarbury 6.1.3

        Build it and they shall come.

        Well that’s the problem really, because of induced demand no matter how wide you build your motorway it eventually become clogged.

  7. Pat 7

    I think arguments that a surface level option “isn’t going to be pretty” depends on your bias. The most recent example to compare against is the Albany extension through Greenhithe which is surprisingly well done in terms of how they have reduced the visual and noise impact on neighbouring houses. It has also made access for those living in that suburb 1000 times better – remember the traffic jams faced by Greenhithe residents trying to get out onto Greenhithe Road each morning.

    The Waterview connection will greatly reduce commuter traffic through the likes of Mt Albert township itself, and make living in the area much more enjoyable for the residents.

    • lprent 7.1

      Bullshit: Does nothing for Mt Albert traffic. People don’t cross from Pt Chev to Hillsborough. They go the other way from West Auckland (New Lynn, Waitakere, Green Bay etc) to town.

      The only purpose for this motorway is for people from Ta Atatu to Albany/North Harbour to go to Manakau or the airport or vice versa

      • vidiot 7.1.1

        Or for those living in the West to have an alternative route to get to Onehunga, Penrose, Greenlane, etc.

        /me remembers teh days of old of driving from Glen Eden to Penrose via Hillsborough Rd, Carr Rd, etc.

        Why drive in to Spaghetti Hell, when you can avoid it and go against the traffic.

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          I suspect that they will carry on doing the same thing for Pensose – NW to central and southern to penrose.

          Onehunga sure…. They don’t go through Mt Roskill.

          As I said – does nothing for Mt Albert residents. That was why it was so hard to get people in Mt Albert to agree even to the tunnel.

          • vidiot 7.1.1.1.1

            But why should the locals have to agree to anything ? It’s not ‘them funding it, it’s NZ.

            It’s in Aucklands & NZ’s interest to get things improved – it’s been proposed for a number of years and now finally it looks like something is going to get done.

          • mickysavage 7.1.1.1.2

            There was a country that adopted the approach proposed by Vidiot, where the state made the decision and provided the funding and the locals had to accept it without say or the ability to seek to change. And everything was done in the National Interest.

            The USSR!!

            I never thought that vidiot was a commie …

      • Pat 7.1.2

        Surely the purpose for this motorway is to enable the thru traffic from West Auckland and North Shore to Manukau, as you state, and to provide a second route through Auckland to reduce traffic on the bridge.

        As a Westie I am aware of plenty of fellow Westies who work in the industrial areas of Manukau. They would use the Western Ring Route. At the moment they either sit in the Southern motorway traffic or take Pt Chev- Hillsborough route through Mt Albert.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.2

      It will undoubtedly make things worse as everyone will be trying to get around the choke points on SH16-20. Ask any courier driver the quickest way south and they will give you a mix of motorway and local roads which they go on and off. Its a bit like squeezing your toothpaste tight to get the last bit out and a hole appears in the side so it moves in the path of least resistance.

  8. The problem with that argument Pat is that the SH18 corridor had been set aside for decades, so therefore residents knew the motorway was coming and houses were never built across the corridor.

    The Waterview Connection actually will do nothing to reduce traffic on Great North Road through Waterview, as there will be no motorway interchange that allows motorists access to the new motorway from anywhere near Waterview.

    • vidiot 8.1

      Yes and house prices in the area did reflect for a number of years that ‘uncertainty’ – but last few years, this (SH18 corridor) seems to have been ignored and prices have boomed, hence a lot more Kleenex will be required later today.

    • Pat 8.2

      Plenty of houses were built right next to the SH18 corridor.

      The interesting thing is that when motorways are being planned or built, local residents are always up in arms regarding effect on house prices etc. Once the motorways are built houses are built all around them and the owners boast how their home has easy access to the motorway.

  9. felix 9

    vidiot and Pat, thanks for getting me up to speed.

    I had no idea that it was now widely accepted that motorways are actually charming, safe and attractive to live beside.

    The only trouble with this wonderful news is that now everyone will want one.

    • vidiot 9.1

      Would you rather live next to a P lab ?

      After living in Greenlane for a number of years, the benefit of having both the motorway & the railway system within walking distance far out weigh the downside of the occasional noisy train rolling past.

      • felix 9.1.1

        I didn’t realise that “p lab” was one of the options.

        Are you serious?

        Also, why do you like having a motorway within walking distance?

        • vidiot 9.1.1.1

          So you can walk up to the over bridge and laugh at the Westies stuck in traffic because the NIMBY’s are continually halting the progression of NZ.

          edit: and was just pointing out in original post that there are benefits of living close to public transit facilities (bus, rail, motorway).

          • felix 9.1.1.1.1

            Are you actually advancing that as a reason for loving surface motorways?

            Reading your comments on this thread I really can’t see what your support is based on apart from a general support of the government.

            Are you going to offer anything more substantial than “not a p lab” and “laugh at westies”?

    • Pat 9.2

      felix, I live adjacent to the Hobsonville deviation under construction. If I hit a golf ball from my verge I could land it on the Brigham interchange (probably a 5 iron with a tail wind). Personally I can’t see anything but pluses for me:

      – Reduced traffic on Hobsonville Road
      – Easy access to on/off ramps for the Western Ring Route
      – New retail and commercial developments once the motorway construction is finished. Am looking forward to the new Retail Centre at Hobsonville, and the expanded commercial area at Westgate.

      I haven’t seen a mass exodus from Hobsonville because of this new motorway.

      • felix 9.2.1

        Brilliant. Not only are motorways beautiful, clean and fun to be around, they’re also good for retailers.

        Pass that crack pipe over here will you?

  10. Tim Ellis 10

    I don’t see how it trashes Mount Albert.

    Have you even had a look at a map of Mount Albert? The waterview connection goes nowhere near where most of the people in the electorate live. The motorway will create no more noise than the Northwestern currently creates. It will also take a lot of traffic off Mount Albert Road, New North Road, and Great North Road.

    It’s perhaps upsetting for the extra 150 householders in waterview who will lose their homes, but a cheaper and faster option is what is needed. Spending an extra billion dollars to save 150 homes is financial insanity.

    As long as the people who have to relocate are well compensated, and the road gets built more cheaply and faster, then I think that is an outstanding solution.

    I’m not sure that 95% of Mount Albert voters who will be unaffected by the waterview connection really do want the taxpayer to front up with an extra billion dollars for a gold-plated solution.

    • lprent 10.1

      Tim Bullshit.

      I was there when the NW was built – parents had a house in 4th ave. It was then an extremely noisy road because it was done cheaply (like what Joyce wants to do now by the look of it). They used a very coarse gravel as the surface. That was extremely noisy in the car traveling on it. It was even worse living next to it.

      It probably will not take much (if any) traffic off those roads. They all run West to East. The connection runs North to South. At best it will take some traffic off the north-western motorway going to Penrose.

      Where the connection is likely to go is right in the middle of a lot of houses. There will be at least 400-500 houses that will require demolishing or major work to keep the noise out. There are thousands that will have a significant increase in noise volumes. If the government is prepared to pay pre-motorway market prices for about 2000+ houses then they’d probably find it cheaper to build a tunnel.

      I’m not sure that 95% of Mount Albert voters who will be unaffected by the waterview connection really do want the taxpayer to front up with an extra billion dollars for a gold-plated solution.

      I’m sure that 95% of the electorate would prefer that it just wasn’t built. It does nothing for them

      • Tim Ellis 10.1.1

        “I’m sure that 95% of the electorate would prefer that it just wasn’t built. It does nothing for them”

        I think taking a whole lot of traffic off the arterials in Mount Albert is pretty significant, LP.

        Interesting the admission from Phil Goff this morning on breakfast, which I’ve only just caught up with, that Labour didn’t budget for the Waterview tunnel option. Just a vague statement that Labour always delivers on what it promises.

        • vidiot 10.1.1.1

          Queue TUI Advert ?

          Flipside, also dig out the info on ‘cheap houses’ planned for Mt Roskill. I am sure if you join the dots, the ‘free’ (government owned) land that you could build your house on, was the corridor. Remember that promise.

  11. jarbury 11

    Oh question time in parliament will be interesting today:

    Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree with Paul Mees, a senior lecturer in transport planning, who is reported as saying that Auckland has spent 50 years putting all its eggs in the motorway basket and that “in Auckland you’d think it was the 1950s, from the way the road lobby and the Government carry on’?

    Fantastic that we’ll end up in a discussion about Mees!

    Hon DARREN HUGHES to the Minister of Transport: What are his concerns about the impact on the community affected by the decision not to proceed with the previously announced tunnel option for the Waterview Connection?

    This will also be interesting!

  12. dw 12

    Tim E, do you always reflexively support everything National propose?

  13. Draco T Bastard 13

    Being Cheap: The act of trying to save monetary value on something that may or may not be worth it while losing a massive store of social value that cannot be measured in monetary terms.

    NZ has become very cheap since the 1980s – this seems to have coincided with our lean to the political right.

  14. vidiot 14

    So it sounds like is a combination of trench & tunnel now, not a deep trench as previously promised.

  15. Pat 15

    It will be interesting to see where Labour stand on the proposal now. By opposing it they risk looking like they are doing so just for the sake of it.

    Mt Albert residents might appreciate a common sense decision being made. Worth a view votes, perhaps?

  16. Yes the proposal is now trench, bored tunnel, cut and cover tunnel, so it is a hybrid.

    Sorry Jarbury, Paul Mees wouldn’t know a robust economic argument if it entered him from behind. He has no credibility in serious transport circles, but gets attention from similar crank academics and politicians because he worships rail and light rail.

    The point is that there is a gap in the Western ring route, it should be filled sooner or later. Everywhere else in the country Labour built urban highways without tunnels or planned them as such, it goldplated the Waterview extension because of the former PM – now a sensible middle option has been proposed which is 60% tunnelled. The railway has no business case as even ARTA didn’t have it planned for construction until 2030.

    Issues of so-called induced traffic could be resolved if road were marginally priced, which in the case of Auckland could mean replacing rates funding for local streets with congestion charging, then roads could be priced to operate at free flowing conditions at peak times. Under that environment, the need for more road space would drop significantly, buses could operate competitively and public transport would be price competitive with private motoring.

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