Lobby group wants motorways to drive over locals

Written By: - Date published: 5:58 am, May 6th, 2009 - 48 comments
Categories: mt albert, transport - Tags: , ,

Aerial view of Waterview. Click for enlarged view

Owen McShane’s lobby group the Centre for Resource Management Studies has a set of questions up about the Waterview Tunnel option of SH20. Essentially they argue for ramming an above ground motorway through the Waterview houses and green belt for the benefit of the motorists, and that the pesky locals should be ignored.

One of the basis of their argument is:-

However, this consultation has not revealed the preferences of the much larger number of people who will actually use the Waterview Ring Road when complete. The modeling indicates a two-way flow of 90,000 vehicles a day by 2026, which would be carrying at least 100,000 people a day. Surely their preferences count as much as a few score households on nearby land?

This is a gross misrepresentation. An above-ground motorway will affect thousands of households within earshot. Just ask any resident within earshot of the north-western motorway in Kingsland, Grey Lynn, Newton, and other suburbs. After that was put in close to our house at the time, it went from being an extremely quiet area to having a background hellish noise. They’d put in a rough surface and no noise protection. These days the RMA gives some protection against that sort of arrogant engineering, but it appears to me that CRMS wishes to revert back to that style of thinking.

Most importantly the Waterview project will be paid for almost entirely by the motoring public of the Auckland region and we would have thought that the motoring community that ‘pays the piper’ should surely ‘call much of the tune’.

Huh? Surely this is a case for user-pays. If they want it so much, then they should pay for what is required for the locals to let it through their community. Most people near the path of proposed SH20 would prefer that it wasn’t built at all.

We wonder why the interests of the neighboring residents of Mt Albert are regarded so highly, while the interests of the motoring public, who pay for the project, are totally ignored.

Furthermore, this motorway network will exist and be in use for hundreds of years. Surely the specifications of such a major piece of infrastructure should not be determined by the wishes of households whose average stay is measured in years.

If necessary, adversely affected residents should be bought out with generous compensation.

Now we understand why they wish to think that there are only a few score households. Buying out the hundreds or thousands of adversely affected households would massively increase the costs of an above-ground motorway. It would be cheaper to put in a tunnel. What the CRMS are proposing is how to provide a cynical fig-leaf token gesture to local concerns for politicians.

In any case, if the CRMS is proposing that the payback for the project can be measured in hundreds of years, then presumably so the costs of doing the project correctly for that timespan can be amortized over that period as well.

The CRMS also rails against number of lanes saying that it is too few for expansion. The solution is obvious – pay for more lanes. Putting in a bus lane in both directions seems like a good idea as well. After all the motoring public is looking at an investment that can be paid back over hundreds of years – the CRMS has said so.

There seems to be an implicit view that motorways generate adverse effects and no benefits to amenity and landscape. In reality a well designed highway in a park like setting can provide a major open space amenity to scores of thousands of road users every day. The northern motorway beyond Albany is an excellent example.

Unlike the Albany motorway, this area has residents already. People in Mt Albert are quite aware of the adverse effects from previous motorway projects. No amount of landscaping for motorists will help with the noise and disruption problems. Whoever the fool who wrote this report is, I surprised that they haven’t suggested that children would like to play alongside the motorway in the nice landscaped area. It is hard to see what kind of amenity it is for motorists either. You aren’t actually allowed to get out and use it.

After all, if this conclusion is correct for this link, which is being built through a mix of low-density residential development and open parkland, then this outcome must also hold true for all future motorway construction in the Auckland Metropolitan Area, and through many of the urbanized areas within the Auckland Region.

Exactly, here is the crux of the CRMS’s argument. If you are driving a motorway through an area of built up housing and established communities, it is different to shunting a motorway through countryside. There are unlikely to be many benefits to the locals from the motorway, it will largely benefit the motorists.

Most communities would prefer not to have a motorway shunted through their parklands and houses. Residents everywhere need to understand that if an above-ground motorway is driven through in Waterview over the local residents, then the same will be done using exactly the same arguments anywhere.

I’m not even going to go into the other spurious arguments. They are simply pathetic – have a laugh, read them. “Princess Diana” syndrome – people getting drunk and running into a wall?

Motorists, if they want motorways, should expect to pay for the cost of having the least impact on the local community and environment. Perhaps John Key and other NACT MP’s should be asked for their views on these questions when they visit Mt Albert during the by-election. Just make sure you get a recording of the answers. NACT politicians are a bit slippery about promises after elections

48 comments on “Lobby group wants motorways to drive over locals”

  1. Nick 1

    Why doesnt McShane just cut the bull and call his group what and who they are, the “Centre for the Privatisation of Resources and the Donation of the Common Good to Wealthy Interests”. Im sick of privately funded think tanks posing questions to frame debate with preset answers, its an abuse of the democratic principle.

    On the need for motorways has anybody asked the sensible questions like:
    * will we be driving cars as much in 10 years?
    * where and what work will we be doing?
    * would public transport be a more viable answer?

    An oil depleted future might not be nice but is a certainty. Consequently I dont think that things will be the same as today so a little forward thinking might go a long way.

    • lprent 1.1

      I’d agree with all of that. There was a large section in the post pointing out that the traffic estimates might be a wee bit optimistic. However it was getting too wordy so I clipped it.

  2. TBA 2

    Lets be honest, the concerns these residents have are no different from the concerns that the residents who border the other 100+ km of open air motorways in the Auckland region. The only difference is that this motorway expansion is going to effect Helens backyard, hence why Labour pursued the tunnel option and now its simply a by-election issue that Labour hope to use to its political advantage.

    I wonder how much of a noise Labour or this website would be making about this if Mt Albert was a safe National seat?

    • Chris 2.1

      Motorways through urban areas tend to be bi-partisan in response. Motorways through blue rinse areas generate as much noise and anger as do poorer western suburbs such as Mt Albert. Just ask Mr Banks, current Mayor of Auckland. Whether blue red or purple, the noise is the same.

    • lprent 2.2

      Wrong – and ignorant of Auckland’s history of motorways.

      Most of the length of the existing motorways were originally put in when there were no bordering houses. The houses came after the motorway was put in – ie they were built for the conditions and the buyers were aware of the motorway at purchase..

      The vast majority of the other lengths were put through in what were then (and often still are) business districts.

      Some areas that were residential, they simply brought the houses and bulldozed them.

      There have been few motorways put through largely residential areas, and the track record is that they cause enormous disruption, an on-going noise problem, and usually a considerable drop in property values.

      • TBA 2.2.1

        Sorry Lprent, can’t be bothered with your personal attacks on opinions you disagree with today but I suggest that you go talk to some of the older urban planners in the Auckland area to get a true picture of what has happened in the past 30 years and actually get out and drive the roads, talk to the people vs just listening to the political propaganda and if you’re really interested

        Have a nice day.

        • felix

          Lynn said you were wrong, which you were, and ignorant of the history of Auckland’s motorways (that’s a fancy way of saying you were wrong), which you were.

          Then he explained why you were wrong. Where’s the personal attack? Have you never been corrected before?

          You poor wee thing. Run along and play and I’ll get you some bikkies.

        • lprent

          Nothing beats personal experience.

          I’ve been driving since 1975 on the developing motorway network. The housing filing in the spaces beside the motorways has been interesting to watch.

          I drove the northern motorway from Mt Albert every other weekend to a 88 acre block that my parents were developing in Puhio from 1975-1977. In 1977 I was driving back on the southern from the town supply farm in Alfriston to Mt Albert most weekends. Obviously I was next to the North-western when it was built, and we drove that as well when it was finished.

          Almost all of the motorway neighborhood then was either industrial or paddock apart from the north-western.

          Since then most of the motorways have followed the same pattern, developed in largely industrial areas or paddocks.

          …can’t be bothered with your personal attacks on opinions you disagree with today…

          Or that you are just wrong and don’t want to defend the line of bull you were spinning.

  3. andy 3

    The above ground and trench options will cause major disruptions to a very important arterial route. Great North Road carries 40,000 vehicles a day from large parts of West Auckland (not Mt Albert). What people miss is that trying to manage this traffic while creating a trench literally right next to the road will only create more traffic chaos for the years it takes to build.

    Glad to see people still trying to make it a Helens backyard boggie man issue. Without thinking that it is actually about moving people across town more efficiently, and would benefit Paula Bennets electorate more than Mt Albert.

    • lprent 3.1

      Yeah – it is almost impossible to find anyone in Mt Albert or Mt Roskill who thinks that it is a good idea for the local area.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    “this motorway expansion is going to effect Helens backyard, hence why Labour pursued the tunnel option and now its simply a by-election issue that Labour hope to use to its political advantage”

    Yeah. Bloody Labour party abusing the political process by taking notice of what the peasants want. The job of a local MP is to tell the peons what the Party is going to do to them.

  5. TBA 5

    Andy:”What people miss is that trying to manage this traffic while creating a trench literally right next to the road will only create more traffic chaos for the years it takes to build”

    Andy without a question that there will be an impact through construction however will it be any worse that the impact that the Spaghetti Junction/Ports of Auckland caused for years, or even the work that is being carried out at present on the Mangere Bridge region? I doubt it.

    Pascal:”Bloody Labour party abusing the political process by taking notice of what the peasants want.”

    I haven’t said that its abuse of the political process (or believe that it is) but lets not pretend that Labour are fighting this fight out of some noble sense of right/wrong, its simply political ammunition that they hope will help sway the masses and the by-election.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      So your accusation is that labour is engaging in perfectly legitimate politics, using the process as it should be used to advocate the concerns of the locals. The horror. Bastards.

    • lprent 5.2

      Spaghetti Junction/Ports of Auckland

      That is a business district – not many houses there.

      Mangere Bridge

      You mean the other bit of SH20 in Phil Goff’s Mt Roskill electorate. Perhaps you’d better have a closer look at the chaos that extension caused in Mt Roskill. That was in a area with relatively light traffic flows. The next area is high traffic.

      Labour and its MP’s have been fighting for an equitable solution for SH20 because that is what their constituents have been asking for. The tunnel solution was the best that was achievable. The next is not to have a motorway at all.

  6. andy 6


    will it be any worse that the impact that the Spaghetti Junction/Ports of Auckland caused for years, or even the work that is being carried out at present on the Mangere Bridge region? I doubt it.

    I don’t know either, I suspect it would because of the nature of Gt North Rd and waterview being isolated by it and the high use of the road by locals just to get to the diary. But in this case there is a second option with less impact on the local community and existing traffic flows, so there must be an opportunity cost to for commuters.

    Was the same option was available in at spaghetti junction, Mangere bridge and ports? I doubt it!

  7. Zaphod Beeblebrox 7

    Everyone is to blame for the huge mess that has been created by this one. The huge amount of traffic that is funnelled from the west mixed in with a new huge NW-SE traffic funnel, with a NW motorway that will be unable to cope with the extra traffic, is a recipe for perpetual gridlock. I would not be wanting to live anywhere near this traffic triangle in next fifty years.
    When I drive anywhere in Auckland (except maybe on Sunday or late at night) I find it much easier NOT to go nowhere near the motorways and any of their off ramps.
    Why do we have to think of these huge unaffordable grandiose road schemes everytime the local network struggles at peak times.
    if you look at a road map of Auckland you see hundreds of unconnected local roads that end at a gully edge or loop back on themselves. We have constructed entire housing developments with only one way in or out. What we need are alternative routes using the existing road system not more unaffordable roadblocks.

  8. Rich 8

    I think it can be summarised as:
    “NACT to Mt Albert – fuck off you lowlives. Poop poop!”

  9. Oh good I can really sink my teeth into this issue.

    For a start, the cost difference between a full tunnel option and other potential options is not nearly as big as people make it out to be. The Ministry of Transport’s review of the Waterview Connection clearly pointed that out (see page 18 of this document: http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Katrina-09/Business-case-for-the-Waterview-Connection.pdf )

    To paraphrase (all costs in 2015 dollars)

    1) Cost of full tunnel option: $2.005 billion for 4 lanes, $2.335 billion for 6 lanes
    2) Cost of cut and partial cover options: $1.790 billion for 4 lanes, $1.813 for 6 lanes
    3) Cut and extended cover: $1.988 billion for 4 lanes, $2.205 billion for 6 lanes
    4) Open cut (no tunnel at all): $1.456 billion for 4 lanes, $1.585 billion for 6 lanes

    So therefore, there is no cheap option. If we compare apples with apples we see that a cut & partial cover option is only around $200 million cheap than a full tunnel option, a cut & extended cover option is around the same cost. An open cut option is $500 million cheaper, but that must be counter-balanced against the huge environmental and social costs that this option would generate.

    Now, to take on Owen McShane’s theory that the Waterview Connection ‘would pay for itself’. The Ministry of Transport’s report was clear that neither NZTA nor ARTA view the Waterview Connection as a priority – so therefore it would not be funded out of traditional funding sources any time soon. This is largely due to its low cost-benefit ratio.

    Page 11 of the report I link to above states this quite clearly:

    Funding the entire project from any single source would place a considerable strain on that source, making a combination a more feasible approach to take. All the sources of funding other than Crown funding or tolling require agreement from the Board of the NZTA, Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) or both. To date, neither the Board of the NZTA nor ARTA have indicated that they view the Waterview Connection as a priority project within existing funding levels.

    If the Waterview Connection was to be funded any time soon it will be through crown debt – as this is why financing costs were included in the reporting of the Waterview Connection’s cost going from $1.89 billion to $2.77 billion. This means that it will be general taxation that pays for it, not users of the connection themselves. If it is going to be built any time in the next 20-30 years it will not be via petrol taxes, as NZTA and ARTA do not view this link as a priority.

    Regarding the debate about past motorways being built through existing urban areas – spaghetti junction, the southern motorway from spaghetti junction through to Ellerslie and the NW motorway from Pt Chev to the city are the only main parts of our system ever built through existing urban areas.

    But getting back to Waterview, I just can’t see any option here being justifiable. There is no cheap alternative – we start at $1.5 billion (plus financing costs, plus upgrades to SH16 costs) and work our way up from there. The $1.5 billion option (Open Cut) would have huge environmental and social effects and it is still enormously expensive.

    Financing costs & SH16 upgrades added arond $800 million to the price of the full tunnel option, and I can’t see them adding much less to the costs of an open cut option. That means we are looking at the cheapest option being around $2.2 billion AND having massive environmental and social effects.

    How can you justify that Mr McShane?

    Edit: One more thing, Transit NZ became NZTA in August last year – get with the times Owen!

    • lprent 9.1

      the southern motorway from spaghetti junction through to Ellerslie

      Yeah that was done before my driving time, apart from recent upgrades to the existing systems.

      ….as NZTA and ARTA do not view this link as a priority.

      However this government seems to think that anything is possible regardless of the cost/benefit ratios.

      • jarbury 9.1.1

        I thought I remembered Steven Joyce saying that transport projects must have a sound economic justification, or was I just being delusional? Or does that only apply to public transport?

  10. Pat 10

    Jarbury, I always thought a number of houses had been bought up already. Is this true?

    Personally I’m in favour of the open cut option, particularly if it has the earliest completion date. We need the second motorway through Auckland completed asap. The Hobsonville Deviation is only a few years away, so Waterview is the last link in the chain. The words Just Do It come to mind.

    • felix 10.1

      I don’t know, Pat. I’m in favour of finishing the damn thing too but the words that spring to my mind aren’t Just Do It, they’re Do It Properly.

      • jarbury 10.1.1

        At least we’ve got the choices sorted here. There’s a $2.2 billion rubbish option or a $2.8 billion OK option. Neither can be paid through petrol taxes or tolling (even a $2 toll puts off enough traffic to push the cost-benefit ratio below 1) so both will be a $2 billion+ crown debt.

  11. Zaphod Beeblebrox 11

    What happened to the overland option along the side of the Rosebank Peninsula? I would have thought this would minimise disruption to Great North Rd and avoid a horrendous engineering nightmare a la the SH20-16- Great North Round Interchange.
    BTW for the costs mentioned here we could have a very nice rail system.

  12. jarbury 12

    Pat, I don’t know for sure about what houses have and have not been bought. I know that most of the required houses at the Waterview end were owned by Housing New Zealand, so I assume a purchase there would be quite simple.

    It is my understanding that around 150 properties are required for the full bored tunnel option, compared to 500-600 for any sort of other option (remember that even for cut & cover you need to buy the property above the tunnel). That’s part of the reason why cost differences between the bored tunnel and a surface option are nowhere near as big as people think they will be. At around $500,000 a property, you’re spending $250 million on property acquisition alone. Furthermore, the parkland a surface option will run through (Alan Wood Reserve and Phyllis Street reserve) is owned by Auckland City Council, who would not just give it to NZTA. That’s possibly another few tens of millions of dollars at least (I don’t really know how valuable open space land is).

    Remember, we’re looking at $2.2 billion for this at the very least. That money will have to be borrowed as NZTA & ARTA do not have the funds for such a large project (and they are smart enough to realise that it’s not a high priority). So this will be a HUGE tax-payer subsidy to a road that will just entrench Auckland’s auto-dependency.

    We need to look at alternatives.

    • George Darroch 12.1

      No we don’t!!!

      Roads roads roads roads roads roads roads. If Labour and United Future and ACT and National all agree, they can’t be wrong! More roads!

      • Pat 12.1.1

        Yes THIS road has to be completed. This is indisputable. How stupid would it be to alternative motorway through Auckland with a 4km vasectomy in the middle of it. It would be the motorway to nowhere.

        • jarbury

          Clearly the benefits of the rest of the Western Ring Route will only be fully realised once this last part of it is completed. However, I cannot see how it is economically justified. There is no cheap option here, it’s $2.2 billion and upwards.

          If we are to spend that much money we need to be sure it is worth it (and I have my doubts over the calculated time saving benefits for a start).

          The other option is to toll it. $2 of tolls will cover $400 million of debt. So a $14 toll should cover the $2.8 billion for a full tunnel option.

          More of my analysis is here: http://transportblog.co.nz/2009/05/06/waterview-connection-its-22-billion-and-upwards/

          • Pat

            No problem with tolls. The Orewa tollroad seems to be running smoothly now and obviously has wide acceptance.

            I don’t think the rail option forms part of the Waterview debate. It’s a separate issue. The Western Ring Route is a long and expensive motorway infrastructure with a 4km gap in the middle. It simply needs to be finished.

  13. Pat 13

    Jarbury – I have a family friend who completed a housing development at Waterview several years ago, and he ended up having to sell several of the completed homes to Transit NZ. My anecdotal impression from speaking to him was that a large no of properties had been bought along the intended route. Surely this is also the case at the Hillsborough end where a lot of works is currently being carried out.

    It would be interesting to find out how many homes have already been bought. This has an impact on the costs and which option is best.

  14. jarbury 14

    Pat, I certainly doubt that houses outside the 150 required for a full tunnel option would have been purchased. NZTA would be crazy to have done so, as their current preferred option would have not affected these places. He legally would not have “had” to sell anything to Transit as there’s no designation in place.

    The Mt Roskill SH20 extension is completely different. There has been a designation for that in place for decades. It opens in a week or two.

  15. Quoth the Raven 15

    Furthermore, this motorway network will exist and be in use for hundreds of years.

    What no flying cars.

    • George Darroch 15.1

      No peak oil either.

      • Pat 15.1.1

        Electric cars, and cars running on biofuels (be they cows urine or chinese gooseberries) still need motorways. The new motorways also enhance bicycle routes – see Hobsonville Deviation/Greenhithe bridge for example.

  16. Pat 16

    Jarbury – Is there any truth that the underground springs at Waterview make it unsuitable to build a tunnel?

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 16.1

      I understand the volcanic rock in that area is also a significant impediment to blasting. Has this been factored into the costs?
      re the springs- given the track record of transit don’t count on their cost estimates

      • jarbury 16.1.1

        I am sure that has all been taken into account. In recent years NZTA/Transit have actually done very well in ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.

    • lprent 16.2

      Probably not. Pops on geology geek hat.

      All of the fresh-water springs around the isthmus area are not from artesian or sub-artesian sources – there is no strata to carry them from the distant mountain sources.

      As far as I’m aware, local springs are all from basaltic lava pipes from the dome volcanoes (or maybe the Waitakere range volcanoes – although that seems unlikely) that are around the area. Those are easy to divert because their source is horizontal.

      I’d class that as myth unless you have an actual source (in which case I’d be fascinated). There is nothing to create a spring system. What is left of the local strata after millions of years of volcanoes is broken and block faulted.

  17. jarbury 17

    Pat – not that I know of, although I have heard rumours there’s hazardous medical waste at the back of the old Carrington Hospital.

    A lot of work went into the full tunnel option, and NZTA were ready to lodge the notice of requirement for it at the end of last year/beginning of this year. I imagine that if there had been such a big problem with a full tunnel option, NZTA would have known about it.

    The problem with slapping a $14 toll on the road is that nobody would use it and it would be a HUGE economic failure. It can’t even maintain a BCR of above 1 with a $2 toll, according to the Ministry of Transport:

    Traffic modelling suggests that up to 50 percent of users would be diverted from the road if a $2 toll were imposed. A $2 toll would support around $410m of debt, but the diversion would mean the loss of economic benefits worth an estimated $393 million. (The revenue-maximising toll is approximately $3 per vehicle, which would support approximately $470 million of debt in total, or approximately 17 percent of the total project cost.)

    Incurring $393 million in economic costs to finance $410 million in debt is equal to an economic cost of nearly 96c for every dollar raised. This compares with an estimated 20c in economic costs incurred for every dollar raised through general taxation (income taxation or GST). Therefore, we recommend against the use of a toll in this circumstance.

  18. Pat 18

    OK so no tolls. Then the answer is to skip just one year of $2Bn Cullen Fund contributions and put towards Aucklands infrastucture instead. Waterview paid for, problem solved.

  19. jarbury 19

    If we’re going to do that, then I suggest comparing the benefits of building the CBD rail loop and rail to the airport with that of the Waterview Connection.

    I don’t know what the results would be, but there would be a comparable $3 billion price tag so we should at least ask which would have a better BCR.

  20. Pat 20

    I still think the rail issue is a separate public transport issue. So complete Waterview short-term AND look at Auckland’s long term public transport infrastructure. The latter is something for the Supercity to sink their teeth into. If North Shore can spend $400K on a website that will last 18 months, then I think our rates can/will be better spent on Auckland-wide solutions.

  21. jarbury 21

    I don’t think it’s a separate issue Pat. The government now funds rail through crown grants, the Waterview Connection can only ever hope to be funded by a crown grant. They therefore compete for the same money and should be compared with each other to decide which one is the best value for that money.

    I’m sick of “let’s sort out the roads now and think about public transport later”. It is that mindset which has led to Auckland having one of the lowest levels of public transport use of any developed world city.

  22. Pat 22

    Jarbury, you are obviously an intelligent man/woman/man-bear-pig. You think a 4km gap in the Western Ring Route is a good thing?

  23. jarbury 23

    No I don’t Pat. However, given the expense of competing the gap I think we need to make sure it’s value for money. I’m very very much not convinced that it is.

    What looks pretty on a map isn’t what matters in the end. There are a lot of pressing transport projects in Auckland at the moment – including the rail projects that I mentioned above. Given peak oil uncertainty in the future (and all your biofuel & fairy dust cars won’t become affordable to the masses for decades) and the fact that motorway simply induce travel (and therefore congestion) we need to look at alternatives that can provide better value for money than this project.

    I truly believe that the benefits of this project have been overstated. The traffic modelling expects 98% of people travelling from the North Shore to the airport to use this connection, which seems truly bizarre. It also expects to remove 28,000 cars per day from the CMJ – in which case why are we about to spend $600 million on the Victoria Park Tunnel and the Newmarket Viaduct? Time savings benefits have been proven overseas to simply not exist in the longer term (as people drive further rather than travel times being shortened), yet these time savings make up 73% of the benefits of the Waterview Connection.

    There are just too many flaws.

    If we leave things for a decade, the MoT report says the cost benefit ratio will rise to 1.7 – which is a lot better than 1.15. Furthermore, if we spend that decade building a CBD rail tunnel, rail to the airport and other public transport projects we may find that we don’t need the Waterview Connection anyway. Particularly if petrol is over $3 a litre by then (which is what the NZTA and the ARC anticipate it to be in a decade [in today’s dollars] – which I think is conservative).

    Wouldn’t it be better to find that out before we spend $2.5-3 billion?

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