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Roads of National Party Significance Continue…

Written By: - Date published: 3:14 pm, September 22nd, 2010 - 52 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: ,

Nick Smith is not satisfied with making us pay through the nose for a road that makes no economic sense.  Nope, he’s now going to force it on us extra fast, with less chance for us to tell him what we think of it.

Transmission Gully will now be going through his new Board of Inquiry process, that allows the Government to get projects around the Resource Management Act easily.

The first project that is being sent to this fast-track process is Auckland’s Waterview connection – one of the rare cases where such an over-riding of consultation process would make sense.  Very clever, so that no-one complains about the process.

But second up: a project with a cost-benefit analysis of 0.6 – even worse that the Puhoi-Wellsford link that Key & Joyce want so badly for their holiday homes.

0.6 means that for every $100 they spend, they might as well burn $40.  That’d actually be an improvement on the road, as it might keep some people warm in winter.

And now – it’s to be forced through with low scrutiny.  Gotta love this Government’s economic ability and belief in accountability.

52 comments on “Roads of National Party Significance Continue… ”

  1. It is bad enough that the two projects have such low BCRs. I understand that the formual used by NZTA anticipates that the price of fuel stays the same. If an adjustment was made for likely cost increases in the future especially when peak oil starts to hit and the negative effect that this will have on car trips on the motorways you would never build it.

    Of course this requires a medium to long term view being taken.

    In 20 years time our grandkids will stare at huge unused concrete structures and ask us why?

    • Maynard J 1.1

      That’s if you believe that future transport methods won’t need roads. Electric cars, busses, sail-powered bikes, whatever – IMHO we’ll still need them.

      The alternative is that we’ll stop undertaking such travel. Unlikely, unless there is no alternative…

      Whether we need better public transport now is te more pertinent question.

      • comedy 1.1.1

        Your comment reeks of win.

        • pollywog

          That’s if you believe that future transport methods won’t need roads. Electric cars, busses, sail-powered bikes, whatever – IMHO we’ll still need them.

          I don’t.

          We might need some for the rich petrol driven car enthusiast to blat about on but new energy will make current transport modes obsolete.

          maybe not in the immediate future, but eventually…

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        Chances are that we won’t need as many roads as there won’t be as many cars due to a severe energy shortage.

        The alternative is that we’ll stop undertaking such travel. Unlikely, unless there is no alternative

        It’s likely that there won’t be any alternative. Not to the scale of replacing the entire present vehicle fleet.

        Whether we need better public transport now is te more pertinent question.

        We do and we’ll need even more in the future.

        • Maynard J

          The only thing I am aware of that could replace the fossil-hydrocarbon infrastructure and allow ‘cars’ to continue would be using baseline electricity generation (tidal stream, hydro, wind, solar, thermal) and any other renewable to generate hydrogen via electrolysis, which would then be piped around the place and used to generate electricity in locally-distributed fuel cell generators, and also used as a filling station for cars, powered by smaller fuel cells.

          Shame that it’s hydrogen we’d have to pipe around, and the electricity demands for electrolysis would be enormous, but it gets around transmission losses (not of the ‘gully’ variety) and would allow personal transport to continue.

          Our renewables technology would have to be greatly advanced, but if NZ’s generation capacity can be doubled with Cook Strait tidal stream power alone, that would do the trick…

          • Draco T Bastard

            Doesn’t get around the fact that using hydrogen would entail a net energy loss to go with the danger of the stuff leaking out (Hydrogen leaks through everything). The only realistic option is electric cars running off batteries charged directly from the grid.

            Our renewables technology would have to be greatly advanced, but if NZ’s generation capacity can be doubled with Cook Strait tidal stream power alone, that would do the trick…

            GGE = 33.4KWh
            Fuel use in NZ = 2900m litres of petrol (~725 US gallons)

            Which means that, in petrol alone, we use 24,215GWh of electricity equivalent per year. We presently generate ~42,010 GWh per year.

            Possible but unlikely. The problem with tidal power is the extreme corrosion and other wear and tear that will happen due to the salt. We can build them but would they last long enough to be viable? I suspect that you’ll see fairly major leakage into the environment as well because no seal is perfect and water, especially salt water, conducts electricity.

            I think you’ll find that we’ll get rid of the cars first.

            • Bored

              We all excrete (crap / piss) over a kilo a day…which is a hell of a lot of energy if collected and processed. There is enough methane gas from each of us going down the drain each day to do the cooking. Then there is the nutrient value that we wash out to sea or where ever….it is about time we started to view at ourselves as part of what should be a closed loop local energy / fertiliser production system.

              capcha Fun

              • Draco T Bastard

                How much energy does it take to collect and process? How much will be released?

                Not that I’m saying it shouldn’t done – it should be especially the bit about returning the nutrients to the soil rather than washing them out to sea. It’s just that such a process is more likely to be a net energy loss than a way to power more cars.

                • Armchair Critic

                  Watercare run a 7MW co-generation plant at their WWTP at Mangere.
                  Christchurch do something similar at Bromley.
                  North shore’s WWTP is partially powered by digester gas.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    From the Watercare link:

                    Co-generation plant. Four new Jenbacher engine/generators provide 7 megawatts of electricity from digester biogas to help offset plant power requirements.

                    As I said, a net energy loss and not a way to power more cars.

                    Although, to be honest, I’m not sure what you were addressing with your comment. I was, at a peripheral level, aware that such gas power was being used.

                    • Armchair Critic

                      Although, to be honest, I’m not sure what you were addressing with your comment.
                      I was addressing the bit where you asked:
                      How much energy does it take to collect and process?
                      The methane needs to be burned because it is a more effective greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide created by the combustion process.
                      The point of the comment and providing the links is to demonstrate that the processes to recover energy from wastewater are well established at a large scale. I’d like to see them implemented at a smaller scale, down to dairy-shed size. It could have the advantages of improving water quality, reducing methane emissions and creating more distributed electricity generation, along with less reliance on the national grid. Like I said, the technology is there.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Ah, that makes sense.

            • insider

              hydrogen is really really hard both in network based and distributed systems. Even in car issues is very tricky. That’s why some have pursued fuel cells where the hydrogen is stored in something like gasoline or methane.

              The Electricity Commission did some modelling of electric cars’ impact on the grid and demand. they felt it was possible to get to quite a high penetration, especially if cars could be used for voltage support when hooked into the power system.

              I’m with draco on tidal. Why bother when there is so much wind potential accessible at much lower cost? I think COnnell Wagner said there was a possible resource of over 40kMW and accessible wind of about 10kMW – more than the total electricity generation we have today.

              • KJT

                Electric cars do not have as high an impact on the grid as you would expect as their demand for charging is at times of low power demand.
                Total renewable generation potential in NZ is far in excess of what we currently use even with existing technology.

  2. D14 2

    Good timing in that the Mana by election is coming up.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      They want some news , any news to publicise. of course these roading things can go through many different ‘inquiries’ before real dollars are spent. The Aussies are masters at it, high speed trains, extra city underground links. Totally recycled every 5 or 6 years.

  3. bobo 3

    Whats more absurd is transmission gully is being pushed harder as an alternative route in case of a an earthquake (using the Christchurch quake to push it through), no mention that it would be built on top of a major fault line.. about as much sense as putting an emergency ejector seat in a portaloo.

    about fault line here.

    • bbfloyd 3.1

      bobo… do you know where i can get one of those portaloos?

    • NickS 3.2

      But the fault line doesn’t give them donations so it doesn’t exist!

    • There is an argument, admittedly piss weak and totally unable to stand up to any scrutiny, to build Transmission Gully on the basis that there is a strategic need to have two Wellington routes in just in case of an earthquake and never mind the fact it is built on a major faultline.

      There is no justification for the Puhoi-Wellsford motorway unless you own lots of land up north and want to open it up to subdivision and are willing to support political parties who may be inclined to build it

    • Gosman 3.4

      Everything in Wellington is basically built on a fault line.

      Name me one route out of the Capital that doesn’t either follow the line of a major fault or cross over one numerous times.

  4. Bored 4

    Im a little bit worried that the whole thing might be used to upgrade the road weight limits to allow “super” truck and trailers, in effect subsidising the roading industry at the expense of fuel efficient options such as rail and sea. This at a time when we should be looking hard at carbon emmisions. Then there is the white elephant issue as oil based fuel becomes rare.

    • bbfloyd 4.1

      to say nothing of the ongoing, and escalating cost of the extra maintenance to the roads as a result of the damage they will do.

      or, indeed, the danger to other motorists having to share the roads with behemoths totally unsuited to NZ’s roads.

      • insider 4.1.1

        The cost of pavement wear on highways is not that great an increase – under 5% I believe – as they are built to a high standard. It accelerates the need to upgrade a small amount and there is some increased cost in road materials to improve their life, but once you have redone the road – which is a regular part of maintenance – you are back to the standard road life. SO you get a small up front bulge in costs but not a major ongoing one.

        It’s council roads that are more the concern because they are not considered as strong – but heavy trucks are unlikely to be running on most of them – how many do you regularly see in suburban streets? – so no cost impact from wear or need to upgrade.

        And as for unsuitable behemoths, well most will be exactly the same trucks you see today but instead of carrying say 8 tonnes an axle they’ll be carrying 9 or so.

        • Bored

          You may be right Insider but it flies in the face of the reports I read in the Herald about the cost of even upgrading the Auckland motorway. I think my real issue with this is that building for road transport in the age of oil decline is the equivalent of equiping the army with swords in an age of firearms. It is a waste of cash that would be better invested elsewhere.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Really ?
          Averages can do wonderfull things to hide the real . world effects

          Going from 44t to 53t is a 20% increase ( so that cant be the 5% you mention)

          But the damage from the 20% extra weight increases by what is known as the 4th power rule, which works out as double.
          (So that cant be the 5% you mention)

          • Armchair Critic

            Pretty much right. Roads need to be wider and have deeper pavements to accommodate trucks. It also helps to make them straighter and flatter, so there are increased construction costs due to building big cuts and fills.
            Dairy companies are big users of heavy trucks. You can bet that the roads they run on are mostly small rural roads, rather than highways. They will want to make fewer trips and an increase in allowable weights or axle loads (or both) without a corresponding increase in RUCs (i.e. an increased subsidy) will be a real boon for them.

          • insider

            @ ghost

            You are exactly correct on the 4th power effect, but I was talking about cost. If you ‘over engineer’ your roads or maintain them at a rate that doesn’t mean they completely degrade before replacing them, then increased weights may not result in increased costs to the fourth power. That’s also why I made the distinction between local roads and highways because they are built and maintained to different standards.

            @ bored

            You have to differentiate between pavement and structures. Most of those bridges are old and it was saying ‘if’ you want to enable this rule, immediate costs would be X. Of course those bridges will need to be replaced at some stage and the modern bridge standard means they’d automatically be capable of carrying the higher weights, so the choice is invest now or invest some time later, with the ‘real’ cost being the difference between the two.

            • Loota

              then increased weights may not result in increased costs to the fourth power.

              And if you compare that with the situation where you engineer the roads tough in the first place and then keep vehicle weights down?

              • insider

                Sorry loota but I don’t understand your question and I’m no engineer so may not be able to anyway.

                But, NZTA says that loadings on SH1 and 29 would increase 2.9% and on SH1b by 28%. and that was a result of the quality of road construction, with 1b being “more like a local road’.

    • Clarke 4.2

      While I agree that it wouldn’t be beyond this cynical and venal NACT government, the laws of physics do tend to be a bit of problem where Transmission Gully is concerned – the long descent on the Wellington side is as steep as Ngauranga Gorge but three times longer, which means that getting a 53 tonne truck down it in one piece will require a degree of investment in industrial-strength braking systems that the major operators have not seem inclined to make.

      • Armchair Critic 4.2.1

        And a matching industrial-strength stormwater treatment system at the bottom, to deal with all the contaminants created by the industrial-strength braking systems.

      • jcuknz 4.2.2

        I hope that they build in escape routes ….side roads heading uphill for trucks to coast to a stop on .. as I have encountered on various Colorado roads where grades as high as 7% exist and 5% is common with inclines up to seven miles in length. These are the roads which have been built across the Rocky Mountains. [I-70 and 285 etc] Then there are speed restrictions for the trucks so instead of the 70mph or more they do on flatter roads they are restricted to just 40mph 🙂

        • Jilly Bee

          I have also seen these escape routes for trucks on the east-bound freeway out of Adelaide via the Adelaide hills. I had to enquire what they were having never seen any in New Zealand. There surely must be need for these with the mountainous terrain here – SH1 either side of the central plateau springs to mind.

          • Maynard J

            Escape routes for uphill or downhill? Uphill doesn’t quite make sense… The Haast pass has three or four, heading down from makarora to the Gates of Haast, where trucks can crash into if their brakes fail – they are side roads with large gravel traps going up the hill – enough to stop anything in a hurry.

            I believe there are also some downhill on the Crown Range road, on the switchback decent from Cardrona towards Queenstown.

            South Island roads are awesome (especially the Lindis).

      • insider 4.2.3

        ALl trucks have a load capacity GVM listed on their windscreen. Brakes are used in calculating that as they have to be capable of managing that weight. Modern trucks wtih ABS have no problem. It’s maintenance I’d be more worried about.

        One of the ironies is that you can actially have ‘too much’ braking on empty trucks which causes locking and jacknifing. BRake coding dealt with that by restricting the potential brake strength to the actual weights – ie if you if you slam on your brakes which are coded to 70t, they are going to work a lot harder than ones coded to 44t, which is a risk. ABS I believe removes the need for coding but if you have coded brakes you will have an expensive problem getting to higher weights.

    • insider 4.3

      Road weight limits have already been increased, but anything built since the 1972 bridge standards can take the new weights and most things since WW2. Our bridges are very strong.

    • julie 4.4

      The Harbour. Coastal transport is the logical alternative that we shoud be investing in to prepare for earthquakes and oil price shocks . Not an uneconomic highway that is unlikely to be of use in either scenario. (Note that the latter scenario is 99% certain in the next 5-10years, so should really be of greater consideration when identifying risks to our transport system).

  5. SjS 5

    Come on … the BOI process existed before NACT’s 2009 amendment. TGM will require consents from 3 territorial authorities and one regional council. Wouldn’t it be better to have all of the Council’s working together through a BOI process to prepare a comprehensive response to TGM?

  6. Jeremy Harris 6

    @mickey savage, the way time saving benefits are calculated is very rigged also…

  7. bobo 7

    Forget transmission gully, I would have thought Auckland Harbour bridge is the most important road of significance so we have nippon clippons that were showing structural cracks a few years back, could possible have a catastrophic fail at anytime.. , no one really knows or it has been swept under the carpet..Judging by the southland indoor stadium collapse can we trust what any engineers report says.. Still no replacement bridge / tunnel has been decided on… all it could take is one slightly oversized sparrow to bring NZ to economic gridlock … The Muppets should forget the holiday highway to warkworth as well… thats my newstalk ZB rant for the day..

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.1

      Except traffic volumes over the Harbour Bridge have not increased for at least 3 years, the Greenhithe bridge has just been duplicated and more people than ever are using public transport- so why exactly to we need increased road capacity. Why do we waste so much of our precious public funds on more and more bitumen when traffic is barely increasing?

      • jcuknz 7.1.1

        I don’t know about more and more bitumen but I would suggest there is a good case to improve the roads we have by straightening out corners and easing grades so that we save fuel by more efficient running of our vehicles. Transmission Gully seems to be a foregone conclusion although after traveling through the Glenwood Canyon, CO, where the available land is too narrow for a pair of two lane roads one is built higher and in places on top of the other. AMTRAK and freight run on the other side of the Colorado river. From memory of a couple of decades ago I’d say one could build a second highway between the existing road and the railway line north of Puke Bay? There is no alternative to putting all ones eggs in the same basket in such an earthquake prone area.

  8. Esquire 8

    How many of you are daily users of SH1 from Mc’kays to Linden?

    Just curious.

    • Armchair Critic 8.1

      What’s your point?
      Just curious.

    • jcuknz 8.2

      I’m not but I did travel that road in the rush hour a couple of decades ago and comparing it with the multilane highways of Denver it is obvious that something has to be done … Build TGM or turf the residents out of Pukerua Bay. It is ridiculous that the petty infighting between the various authorities in the Wellington area has delayed it so long …. and now when some government has the umpf to get it moving they are under fire … people are really rather stupid despite their university educations.
      You have multilane from City to Mana[?] and then it is compressed into a crappy two way road after the roundabout …idiotic

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