One RoNS down

Written By: - Date published: 11:54 am, July 14th, 2012 - 31 comments
Categories: peak oil, transport - Tags:

The Government has binned part of the Northern Wellington Corridor ‘Road of National Significance’ – the four-lane expressway between Otaki and Levin that would have cost $400m. The government’s not getting enough road tax revenue and they had already cut all other transport funding to the bone – so something had to give. But it’s just the start.

Let me tell you what a poor quality investment the Otaki to Levin expressway would have been. The route carries about 14,000 vehicles a day and that number is decreasing – down from 15,000 5 years ago. That’s a pretty hefty rate of decrease. That’s $400m to basically knock a few minutes off the daily commute for around 7,000 people when the congestion points are already easing due to falling traffic volumes.

Are there things about this stretch of road that could be fixed to make it safer or get rid of chokepoints? Of course. So, invest in fixing those things. Don’t build a four-land expressway where one isn’t needed.

And that’s what is now happening, they’re going to spend $100m on upgrades instead of $400m on the expressway – not because it’s the sensible thing to do but because there’s no money and this was the least politically embarrassing thing they could cut (funny to see Nathan Guy, the electorate MP praising this as a smart move, given his previous die-in-a-ditch support for the expressway).

Making this section of State Highway 1 (along with all the other stretches back to Wellington at the same time as Hamilton to Auckland is becoming four-lane all the way) is really just about fulfilling Maurice Williamson’s arbitrary fantasy a four-lane road all the way from Wellington to Auckland (and on up to Wellsford). There’s no economic logic to it, it’s just a thing they think they ought to do because they think it wold be cool.

But economic reality is bringing that boyish stupidity crashing to earth. Road tax revenues have fallen short of budget forecasts by about $100m a year in the past two budgets. The Briefing to the Incoming Minister warned that there was a $5 billion shortfall between planned spending and (optimistically) forecast revenue in the coming decades.

This can only be the start. The whole RoNS programme makes no sense – especially the big ones, Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Wellsford. They need to be binned too. Wasting billions on these projects doesn’t make sense, especially when the money is desperately needed to build a low-carbon, low-oil transport system.

31 comments on “One RoNS down”

  1. Jim Nald 1

    Report card for John Key’s government: another failure recorded.

  2. Ad 2

    If anyone is in town for 15 August, make sure you get to Auckland Transport Blog’s movie fundraiser. Proceeds to update their server. They are getting great ratings, and really holding the current to account over this whole area.

    It’s a site that keeps everyone at Auckland Transport and good sections of the Auckland Council well schooled and alert.

  3. prism 3

    I notice while on car journeys in the South Island how few passing lanes there are. If they were more regular there would be less pressure on the driver to pass at the first opportunity. Getting stuck behind moving garage sheds (the wide and high 4WD etc) and the long trucks is not pleasant for the driver or easy because there is no forward view of the road condition or traffic or signs. So more passing lanes, permission to raise speed to pass without traffic fund traps, giving better driving conditions but at less cost. We are not in Europe where they have quite amazing road architecture, but then they are richer than us. Even after the financial crisis I think.

    I was thinking about the four deaths after indoor soccer in mid North Island. They passed a truck
    and they probably were getting along at a fast clip. The long haul vehicles travel quite fast and at night their rear lights give a good indication of the curves and dips in the road. I say stay behind until they pull aside and let you pass. And they know the road, and the passing lanes, and will usually let you get past. It’s loopy testosterone-filled small vehicle drivers who want to dominate the road.

    Also most of the country’s roads should have a guideline of 80 kmh. Having 100 km as general is a con. Certain areas could have a 120 km top speed safely achieved, and the rest if there was a 10km flexispeed the driver would be travelling to the road conditions. The fast areas would be speed signposted as the tight curves and winding roads are.

    • weka 3.1

      I think driver expectations have changed alot in the past decade or so. Maybe us all having our own cars has upped our sense of entitlement, that now includes being able to drive as fast as we want wherever we go.
       
      What I notice is the number of roading improvements around straightening corners and such. I suspect this is driven by tourism and the number of people driving here who can’t drive on anything that’s not a super highway. But ultimately it dumbs down NZ drivers and makes them surprised when they hit a bump in the road or a curvy stretch of road that means they need to slow down for a few miles.

    • TimD 3.2

      80 kmh?
      You mean that we would have to forsake ten minutes on our trip times to
      – Have overall safer roads
      – Lower fuel consumption
      – Reduce GHG emissions
      – Make roads more pleasant to be near
      – Increase the capacity of the road (following distance is dictated by speed and smaller following distance means more cars on a stretch)
      – Have slightly cheaper capital costs

      Mate, you’re dreaming!

  4. mouse 4

    You can’t help but laugh at Stephen Selwood’s (Chief Executive at NZ Council for Infrastructure Development) climb down on this…

    “Commuters from satellites such as Otaki, Waikanae and Paraparaumu can expect time savings of 20-40 minutes on trips to and from the city along a much safer section of road. That’s of huge benefit if your job involves regional travel or you’re trying to get exports on a ship or a plane.”

    http://www.voxy.co.nz/business/sh1-otaki-levin-upgrade-decision-probably-right-thing-do/5/128985

    The only time anyone would get a 20-40 minute benefit, would be for an hour or so, at the beginning or end of a long weekend negotiating the congestion through Otaki… and that congestion is the product of NZTA providing free parallel parking to retailers who have sited their business on SH1.

    We could save another 250+ million if NZTA grew some brain cells and removed the free parallel when it causes congestion. ie. cancel the The Peka Peka to Otaki stretch as well.

    • TimD 4.1

      That roundabout is the problem, an I guess you’re right – the hordes trying to park or cross the roads slow the traffic a bit too.
      I used to drive that section a lot at about peak time, and also have to agree with you – the impression the Wellington holidaymakers get is that the road is always congested when they travel on long weekends – little do they realise that they are the cause.
      The road is actually ok, and recent improvements have been good ones – curve easements and such, so why not continue with that (as it seems they are) and make the holidaymakers deal with what is an adequate road for most of the time?

    • prism 4.2

      Shouldn’t that read that the State Highway has been built to serve the local as well as national needs and that’s why there are parallel parks at the side of the road?

  5. Murray Olsen 5

    I remember the Lange-Prebble Save the Rail travelling circus. The answer is still the one they pretended to have then – get the huge trucks off the roads and build a reasonable rail network.

    • mouse 5.1

      Murray, the irony now is that Labour brought back the Rail and National is using it to subsidize their RONS.

      Consider the Capital Connection, a commuter rail service that runs between Palmerston North and Wellington.

      It operates at a loss, even though ticket prices command a premium vis a vis Transmetro services, but the Capital connection is likely to soon be out of business, because it can’t complete on the unlevel playing field created by NZTA subsidies that are available to their competitor Transmetro, but not themselves for the like service they provide between Waikanae and Wellington.

      Frankly NZTA’s refusal to level the playing field… looks cynically to me, like an attempt to try to reverse the falling traffic volumes between Palmy and Waikanae, in order to sure up the faltering justification that never was, for their Waikanae to Levin section of their RON.

      • Murray Olsen 5.1.1

        Irony always seems to rear its ugly head at the same time as vested interests do. In my opinion, part of a functioning rail network would be removing the subsidies on road freight. Charging trucking firms for the actual damage their vehicles do to the roads would be a great start, seeing as there have been studies suggesting that damage scales with the fourth power of the mass. This means that a 20 ton truck does the same damage as 160,000 one ton cars, for example. A forty ton truck does 16 times that again. It seems the people who bring us “user pays” aren’t quite so keen on it if the users pay via campaign contributions.

        • mouse 5.1.1.1

          You make a really good point on vehicle mass /cost there Murray.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2

          In my opinion, part of a functioning rail network would be removing the subsidies on road freight. Charging trucking firms for the actual damage their vehicles do to the roads would be a great start…

          Yep. Been thinking about that as well and think that taxes on fuel should be dropped and put onto RUCs which then get charged on each vehicle. The amount of damage to then be reasonably accurate and easy to charge. Done properly, you’ll see trucks used where they should be – on short haul trips between train stations and ports and the end destinations of the cargo.

          …seeing as there have been studies suggesting that damage scales with the fourth power of the mass. This means that a 20 ton truck does the same damage as 160,000 one ton cars, for example.

          I knew it was exponential but didn’t think it was that bad. Got a link?

        • gnomic 5.1.1.3

          Spare us the tiresome facts, m’kay? What matters is whether the groceries are going to cost more because the truckers are being charged for the costs they inflict rather than getting a large invisible subsidy from their mates in the National Party (not that Labour was any better on this). Don’t you realise that the trucking industry are heroes who only do what they do out of a selfless concern for their fellow citizens? And life as we know would it not be possible without the truckers? And so on and on.

          Meanwhile it seems that the Road Transport Forum are not satisfied with their rich feast of roads of national significance but want more, still more. Now the rest of the roading network has to be maintained as well. It’s too bad even they can’t see where the money is coming from. But wait, what are ‘road taxes’? I’ve heard of toll roads, but road taxes? What fresh hell is this?

          http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/110674/big-roading-projects-%27drain-transport-coffers%27

          • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.3.1

            Ah, the rich and greedy demanding even more of everyone else’s money.

        • Armchair Critic 5.1.1.4

          It’s not quite 160,000 times as much damage, Murray, because trucks distribute the weight over a larger area than cars do. Trucks have more axles, and many of those axles have two tyres on each side.
          However a truck still does orders of magnitude more damage than a car does, and that’s assuming drivers never overload their trucks.
          There is ongoing debate on the size of the exponential used, I understand the trucking lobby want it dropped to about 1.5, and are funding research to support this.

  6. How sweet the ‘I told you so’ moments are )
    Remember I said there will be no Transmission Gully or Expressway ether.
    Oh and we will be extinct by 2050.
    And Kiwi Saver is fucked LOL

    • rosy 6.1

      How sweet the ‘I told you so’ moments are
      They are. I’d just like to point out that on 3rd June I asked if there was a link was between increased rail services and canning RoNS. I thought it might be Transmission Gully on the block – but close enough, I reckon.

      The point is – why didn’t the journalists ask why the government did an about turn on public transport back then? It’s should be a matter of course to skeptical when money is going to be spent without the public clamouring for it. Why weren’t they? Also, did opposition politicians ask?

  7. Georgecom 7

    Nice to see one uneconomic RoNS flushed. Next up the 0.6 BCR Holiday Highway. Shelve the highway, save $2 billion, put $350 million odd back into existing road improvements and everyone wins.

  8. captain hook 8

    What the hell is a road of national significance.
    Who dreamed that little load of bullshit up.
    whats more is how much did the ad agency make for that little charmer.
    what about footpaths of national significance?
    what about alien masterchef?
    what about……

  9. Georgecom 9

    1. A financial black hole
    2. Steven Joyce
    3. Whats Joyces ex advertising agency again?
    4. They are RoNs when the price of oil spikes

  10. mike e 10

    Overnight news
    Conservative govt in the UK plans to spend $25 billion on upgrading rail system.
    Mean while Joyce and Nactional are cutting the rail budget here.

  11. ghostwhowalksnz 11

    Did anybody notice the government share offers button on Nathan Guys website.

    An MP giving financial advice ? – on a website.

    Its one thing to say such and such policy is the best thing since sliced bread but to go so far as to hawk the shares itself ?

  12. Fortran 12

    The difference in Europe is that the Romans laid many of the main roads out rather a long time ago.

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    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago

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