From Politik this morning “Road rage in the provinces“.
Four regional Mayors are heading to Wellington to tell Transport Minister Phil Twyford his new roading proposals threaten jobs in their region.
The Mayors, from Northland, want to see State Highway One converted to four lanes from Whangarei to Wellsford. From there it is already four lanes.
They say that it is critical for economic development and jobs in New Zealand’s second most depressed region.
While I am sure that the politicians from Northland genuinely think that putting more traffic into the traffic chaos of the Auckland isthmus would be good for them, but they are frigging delusional. Aucklanders neither need them nor want them, and Northlanders coming here are always shocked when they meet their first hour long crawl on the 8 lane SH1 on the North Shore.
But there is more…
But Shepherd says it has a more substantial basis than that.
“It’s not the previous Government’s priority, it’s Northland’s priority.”
He says that Northland is dependent on the one road; 98% of all heavy truck movements in and out of the region are on State Highway One.
The Government’s argument against four-lane highways is that the money is urgently needed elsewhere.
We have more than enough trucks already blocking and wearing out our roads on the constrained Auckland isthmus already. More trucks aren’t going to help Auckland’s transport woes. Northland should look to rail.
Perhaps Phil Twyford should remind these blinkered idiots (although I am sure Phil will be more polite than that) that Northland’s one road leads straight to a very constrained Auckland isthmus.
Auckland is the main transport hub for NZ. Nowhere else in NZ even approaches the densities of traffic here. It is also a geographically constrained region has something like 1.6 million people in it, and just two major overburdened national roads (SH1 and SH16/SH20) running through it.
These are roads that are already jam-packed for most of the day and with heavy traffic at night. I am writing this at 0530 with coffee looking at the early commuter traffic on SH16. The volumes even at this time exceed what I saw through most of south of new Hamilton SH1 motorway a few weekends ago in mid-afternoon.
It felt like my old car was almost alone on a semi deserted billion dollar tarmac. I’d love to see the business case for that white elephant, however I am sure that NZTA has it hidden.
Right now, Auckland needs more Northland traffic like we need a hole in our head. Since 2013 Auckland has grown by nearly 300,000 people – ie by about twice the size of the total Northland population is. By comparison Northland has grown by way less, probably by less than 10 thousand even with all of the overflow from here.
This hasn’t been helped by the National government doing fuck all for transport in Auckland over the last 9 years. Sure they finished the projects like the SH20 connection to SH16 that were already started and funded under the last Labour government. They also finally and very very reluctantly assisted on the Central Rail Link after it was made clear that the choice was to either get involved or be blamed for the rating increases required to build it.
But overall they have poured people into Auckland causing a housing crisis, massive traffic congestion, social problems, and a structural infrastructural deficit, while also starving Auckland of the funds to cope with it.
Instead despite the rapid growth in Auckland of traffic, population, and the regions feeding heavy trucks into our isthmus, they have steadily been decreasing transport funding here – basically to pay for Roads of Significance to National.
This is pretty clear when you look at the numbers. Here is a post from the Greater Auckland blog that focuses on transport issues looking at the 2016 spend per capita. Like previous years, it shows our surrounding provincial areas getting larger spends than the rapidly expanding Auckland population that National imposed upon us.
And we already have a massive transport deficit to make up in Auckland. Rather than rising to cover expanding population here, it has been falling as a percentage of the road funding over the last couple of decades.
It makes far more sense for Northland to learn to rely on rail for freight. Because Auckland neither needs nor wants their bloody expressway feeding trucks into our transport system.