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Joyce’s holiday highway

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, January 28th, 2010 - 60 comments
Categories: transport - Tags:

Steven Joyce has announced plans for a  motorway from Puhoi to Wellsford at a cost of $2 billion ($1.4 billion in today’s money).

The route is used by just 15,000 cars a day (and that has been falling the last few years) and is estimated (optimistically) to save just 15 minutes off the travel time. The New Zealand Transport Agency charged with building the thing says it will deliver just 80 cents of benefit to the country for every dollar the Government spends on it. That means we would be richer as a country if we left the money under a mattress.

Jarbury, who for my money is the best transport commentator out there, has excellent analysis of the so-called “holiday highway” and sums it up like this:

If this is allowed to continue National can quit calling itself the party of economic sense and change it’s name to the ‘We Let Steven Joyce Destroy NZ’s Wealth Party’. As we’ve seen with the approval of the Transmission Gully project he isn’t afraid to write $1.1 billion dollars out of the NZ economy with one stroke of a pen, what is a paltry $400 million dollars compared to that?

Much like Transmission Gully, this monsteriously expensive motorway is meant to clear congestion that simply doesn’t exist most of the time. The only time there is congestion is on the 27th of December and 2nd of January. Even then we’re only talking 22-23,000 cars a day. It might be nice to relieve some of the congestion that exists on one or two days a year for a few thousand people but it simply isn’t worth $2 billion and there are things we could spend the money on that return benefits many times greater than the cost.

This road is basically a way for the rest of us to subsidise a few people heading up the coast to their bachs in summer. We pay, they get a few minutes off their travel time, the country ends up $400 million worse off. Now, who has holiday homes that they could drive to on this new motorway? Why, Steven Joyce and John Key. What an amazingly happy coincidence for them.

[Update: a commenter notes that this motorway will be in Rodney electorate. Lockwood Smith is likely to retire from the seat next election and Joyce is lining up to replace him. Pork barrel politics at its worst]

60 comments on “Joyce’s holiday highway”

  1. toad 1

    Marty, there is another pork barrel aspect worth considering. Lockwood Smith is the current MP for Rodney electorate. He is likely to retire at the next election.

    Stephen Joyce lives in the Rodney electorate and would no doubt love to replace Lockwood as the electorate MP.

    What better way to ingratiate yourself with the local National Party movers and shakers than to give them a brand new motorway even if it is at an overall cost to the economy of $280 million.

  2. PT 2

    porkbarrel is clark wasting a billion on tunnel through her area

    • schrodigerscat 2.1

      Hey PT, stay up with the play, that seems to be what the Nats are doing too.

      • PT 2.1.1

        nats arent spending a billion more than needed on wv to save a few state houses cat

        • schrodigerscat 2.1.1.1

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10622065

          There is lying going on here somewhere

          • Tigger 2.1.1.1.1

            PT – even assuming you are right and that Helen Clark was somehow going to benefit from that tunnel, that makes what Joyce doing also porkbarrel (you imply somehow it isn’t) and more expensive porkbarrell at that.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.2

          Neither was the Labour Party. The TOTAL cost was a little over $1B and the added cost of the tunnel was a couple of hundred million at most. But it still returned more value than was being spent. National don’t do that – they spend more than it’s worth quite literally throwing money away.

    • lprent 2.2

      Are you really that much of a f*ckwit?. Helen didn’t even want the damn thing (nor do I – Mt Albert electorate is where I grew up). The Westmere extension does nothing for Mt Albert – there isn’t even an off-ramp in the new section.

      No-one living in an existing suburbs wants a whacking great big motorway shoved through their houses and parks.

      However the MOT proved that it was required for the REST of Auckland. So she worked with MOT to something that wouldn’t intrude quite so badly into Mt Albert. Even after a more expensive option, it still came out positive – unlike these projects that Joyce is wasting money on.

      Joyce, a National party wanker who normally couldn’t give a shit about wasting money on futile projects (see post above), decided that he’d save money by making the motorway extension as noisy and intrusive as possible. Probably because the electorate doesn’t vote National. Presumably so he could waste money in his own prospective electorates.

      I gather the the SH20 extension is slowly heading back to tunnels.

      • PT 2.2.1

        its porkbarrel because helen wanted to spend twice what its worth to put in a tunnel prentice, roskill didnt get a tunnel

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1

          I should have read this reply – you really are a delusional f*ckwit and just not worth engaging.

    • Marty G 2.3

      PT. she didn’t waste a dollar. Waterview wasn’t built, no money was spent on it.

      Meanwhile, despite all your fluster over Clark, you seem quite happy for Key and Joyce to waste hundreds of millions on holiday highways.

      • TightyRighty 2.3.1

        Marty is right PT, waterview was a sop to that electorate, but not pork barrell politics. now if you want pork barrell politics Interest Free student loans is a much better example, with a side of WFF.

      • PT 2.3.2

        labour would ha ve built waterview maybe you missed the byelection m, labour would have wasted a bill just to save a few crummy state houses thanks labour. we need good roads not overexpensive waste like labours waterview. good on joyce for finishing roading network, labour would have wasted the money on welfare

        • Sam 2.3.2.1

          Yes because people who live in crummy state houses deserve to be homeless.

        • lprent 2.3.2.2

          The houses aren’t a major issue.

          Motorways are incredibly noisy, so it affects thousands of houses either side. Having lived in a street close to the NW motorway in Kingsland during construction and use, it turns quiet residential areas into incredibly noisy corridors. For some reason the governments never want to either compensate for reduced quality of living or reduced asset values.

          This motorway go straight through part of the greenbelt that is a critical part of that part of the city. It destroys several parks, playing fields and other amenities.

          The government will be plagued with claims for decades if they proceeded with Joyces original plans – pushing the price up a *lot*. That is probably why they’ve now reverted to an under priced tunnel option.

          You really do look like a mindless idiot mumbling lines without engaging your brain.

  3. Scribe 3

    Marty,

    I’m not sure if you thought no one would look at your link, but the NZTA analysis says, and I quote:

    The standard BCR (which is 0.8) measures the direct transport benefits arising from the road. The scale of these corridor investments means that it is appropriate to include wider economic benefits (WEBs); that is, the flow-on effects from the transport improvements. The result is to increase the BCR (to 1.1).

    Were you economical with the fact on the Transmission Gully figures as well? Just curious.

    • PT 3.1

      haha good one scribe

      • jarbury 3.1.1

        The wider economic benefits are pretty “airey fairy”, and NZTA have not actually conducted much research into how real they are yet. So I’d take them with a seriously large grain of salt.

    • snoozer 3.2

      so if we include these WEBs then we’ll get $1.54 billion of benefits over the life of the motorway for spending $1.4 billion?

      Mate, we could just put the money in the bank and do better than that after a couple of years.

      • Scribe 3.2.1

        Oh, and it’ll save lives, too, fixing roads in two fatality crash hot spots. What price do we put on that?

        • Armchair Critic 3.2.1.1

          They will be in the B/C.
          Last time I read the manual (admittedly it was many years ago) the value of a life was something like $5 million. I expect the manual will be available online through the NZTA website and anyone who is curious would just need to read the manual.
          The B/C will also include injury and non-injury accident costs/savings, based on a reasonably comprehensive database of motor vehicle accidents.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2.1.1.1

            The roading cost benefit analysis should only be used to compare roading projects.
            I dont think there is any basis to moving the numbers outside to investment in the bank say.
            the lives saved are minuscule to say what the investment in health dollars would do

            The real waste is the roading projects elsewhere that have better numbers that will miss out.

            • Scribe 3.2.1.1.1.1

              The real waste is the roading projects elsewhere that have better numbers that will miss out.

              Genuine question: What other projects that are in the pipeline have better B/C ratios?

              • Armchair Critic

                I’ve had a look through the NZTA website and the best I can do is this:

                Click to access nltp-2009.pdf


                They don’t seem to be big on providing B/C figures, so I can’t answer your question directly, except to say that I identified some highway projects with B/Cs of between 3 and 6 in the late 1990s and even today most of them are still waiting to be built. And they have white crosses and flowers on the fence lines. Higher priorities, I guess.

              • Bright Red

                Come off it scribe. You really think the best the government can spend its money on is a motorway with a -20% or 10% return over its life time?

              • Armchair Critic

                And if there genuinely are no projects with a better B/C than this one (at 1.1) then it must be time to stop investing money in roading.

    • killingingthenameof 3.3

      If something is funded out of general taxation it needs to have a BCR greater than 1.17 (though estimates vary) to make up for the loss of efficency from taxation.

  4. Many thanks for the link and kind words Marty. It was actually my trusty lieutenant Jeremy Harris who wrote that particular post though.

    Regarding Waterview (what a typical sidetrack that is), the latest plans are for something very similar to Labour’s proposal, but apparently for half the price. I am rather suspicious that delivering such an option for the said price is impossible.

  5. Pat 5

    “The only time there is congestion is on the 27th of December and 2nd of January”

    Oh, so all the other times I’m sitting in queues of traffic, I must be imagining things.

    • Scribe 5.1

      True, Pat. Where do you live, Marty? (City name fine, don’t need street address :D)

    • PT 5.2

      sundays and fridays that road is a nightmare partly because some plonker put lights in and some stupid person put road works in at busiest time of year

      • Tigger 5.2.1

        A nightmare? Really? Are there meterors flying from space at you and dinosaurs running across the road? Or is it just a bit busy, like almost every major road in Auckland at certain times? And is it worth the investment, the losing investment, that Joyce wants to sink into it? No. There are other projects of better value or that would return better economic benefit. But Joyce is building this to improve his and his mates’ situation.

        • Scribe 5.2.1.1

          Where do you live, Tigger?

          • Armchair Critic 5.2.1.1.1

            Why do you care where people live, scribe?
            I live in NZ – tax dollars I have paid will be used to fund this extravagance, and I would rather they were better spent.

            • Scribe 5.2.1.1.1.1

              I’m just wondering if these people have ever driven this road and have any idea what they’re talking about. In fact, looking at the figures quoted about 22,000 cars in peak times, I wonder if the transport people have ever driven the road or counted vehicles.

              • snoozer

                of course they’ve counted the cars, that’s how the minister got the number.

                how did you get your number?

              • Armchair Critic

                I used to drive it all the time. It does get busy, especially on the Friday evenings of a holiday weekend (tomorrow should be packed) and the last day of holiday weekends. I don’t see how it is relevant whether any particular person has driven the route or not.
                The post seems to be about the low B/C for the project and the idea that the promoter of the project could run as MP for the electorate where it is to be built. Coincidentally, of course.
                I’ll take your word for it that the B/C could be 1.1, rather than 0.8. Which leads me to the question of whether there are any other projects with higher B/Cs anywhere in the country. I would much prefer see the money spent on 400 projects at an average of $1million each with B/Cs of at least 2.
                If there are no projects anywhere with B/Cs greater than 1.1, surely we should stop investing in roading infrastructure.

              • Bright Red

                exactly, armchair critic.

                Rather than spend $1.4 billion over nine years on a motorway, I bet you could make a programme for the same money over the same period targeting children at risk of under-achivement and falling into crime that would have a BCR ten times as great.

                Someone wrote about a small programme like that on the Standard a while back. Why not upscale it instead of building a useless motorway where traffic volumes are falling?

              • Armchair Critic

                “Why not upscale it instead of building a useless motorway where traffic volumes are falling?”
                I agree.
                Righties tend to think of investment in social programmes as money down the drain and I was trying to stick to the point, focus on infrastructure investment. One million dollars can do a fair bit of what was termed “minor safety improvements” on roads, cutting back banks to improve visibility around corners, resealing with a different seal to improve traction, upgrading signage, etc. It is not as glamorous as a big new motorway extension, but much more effective. Less opportunity for politicking, but better value for money. Perhaps that explains the desire to build the motorway.

      • snoozer 5.2.2

        PT. So traffic is a little slow for you some days. Why should the rest of us pay build a white elephant to make your life a little easier? It’s nice for you but the minor benefits for a few people just don’t justify the cost to the country.

        There’s so much more we could do with $1.4 billion that would crate many times that amount in benefit.

        captcha – unnecessarily – yup

        • PT 5.2.2.1

          its not a white elephant snoozer youre being stupid again, cost benefit is better than public transport. if you dont like money being spent on roads then protest about public transport spending too

    • Sam 5.3

      Get on a bus.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.4

      tell that to the suburban Aucklanders who are in queues morning and night.

      • Sam 5.4.1

        I do! 😀

      • lprent 5.4.2

        I’m in queues whenever I drive.

        But these days if I don’t need the car during the day, I just get a bus. Doing two buses with the bus lanes takes about 30 mins to get to work very consistently.

        Taking the car takes between 20 minutes and 45 minutes (worst was about 70 minutes), depending if there is a crash on the harbor bridge.

        The bus is no stress, I can read my iphone, and I don’t have to park at the end. It is also a lot cheaper than driving, maintaining, and owning a car.

        The only downside is that I have to use an umbrella to get to the bus stop if it is pissing down with rain.

        • PT 5.4.2.1

          what a stupid idea prentice, how many public transport buses go to warkworth. a big fat zero

  6. Pat 6

    The trouble is Joyce is too green in NZ politics. He doesn’t understand that a minimum 20 year talkfest is required before any motorway can be built.

    Damn his Australian-like Do-it-now attitude.

    • snoozer 6.1

      damn his ‘let’s spend more money on projects than we get in benefits’ attitude

      and you realise that by ‘do it now’ you mean ‘do it in 9 years’ eh? because that’s when the motorway will be done, if (big if) everything goes to plan

  7. I wish they would stop wasting so much money on roading projects and used these billions of dollars they apparently have lying around free to throw away on saving a few minutes of traffic time for some job creating instead.

  8. Clarke 8

    It appears Joyce’s ridiculous roading projects are being given the slap-down elsewhere – Wellingtonians are now comparing them with Muldoon’s Think Big.

  9. Bored 9

    At the risk of being very boring what is the f***g point of investing megabucks building roads?????? it might be wiser to invest the remaining oil based energy in alternatives such as rail. And dont give me the normal techno triumphalist or market rationalist bollocks about “alternatives” (unless of course you can demonstrate realities that dont break the laws of thermodynamics, are sustainable and also meet todays scale of deployment at a price the “market” can deliver at).

  10. Brett 10

    Trains suck arse.

    • Armchair Critic 10.1

      “Trains suck arse”
      Which says more about your arse than it does about trains.

  11. There is a possible link here between Nat’s attempts to exclude parts of Rodney from Auckland Super City and this motorway because it otherwise makes no sense. The start of the motorway (Puhoi) is approximately where the boundary would have started.

    The rumour that I heard was that wealthy supporters of the Nats with substantial land interests wanted the northern part of Rodney excluded from the Super City so that subdivision of their land would be easier. There is an article about the ARC and a map showing the area here.

    Building a motorway near their land is perhaps compensation.

    • Pat 11.1

      Another possibility is that the existing Puhoi to Wellsford road is a 40km windy goat track which contains several notorious black-spots, two sets of traffic lights, and the craziest intersection known to man.

      Just a rumour. I’m sure your rumour about the motorway being a sop to disgruntled fat cat developers is more accurate.

  12. BLiP 12

    National :Ltd®’s overseas banker mates financing the roading must be dancing in delight for it seems this government is humming:

    ” ♫ ♪ . . . The white line is the life line to the nation.
    And men like Joyce and Rodney make it move

    ‘Cos

    Jammin’ gears has got to be a fever.
    And men become addicted to the grind.
    It takes a special breed, to be a road buildin’ man
    And a steady hand to pull that load behind! . . . ♪ ♫”

  13. jarbury 13

    The thing is that 95% of the problem could be fixed by building a pretty simple $50 million bypass of Warkworth. Warkworth’s the problem, so bypass the place – sounds pretty simple to me.

    Instead for some unknown reason we apparently need to spend 30 times that amount on a 38km motorway so the Joyce and Key can get to their beach-houses faster. Sounds crazy to me.

    • lprent 13.1

      Or even if you want to be really cheap – just get rid of the damn lights at Warkworth

      • jarbury 13.1.1

        What really confuses me is why NZTA are spending millions widening SH1 through Warkworth when they’re going to bypass it in just a few years? Does Warkworth really needs a 4-lane superhighway cut right through the centre of town if that road isn’t even going to be State Highway 1 in a few years’ time?

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