The Fix Hill Street Team travelled to Parliament this week to present to the Transport & Industrial Relations Committee on Thursday morning. The clerks and Members of Parliament were very receptive to our presentation and the media provided generous coverage. Eight other organisations lodged submissions to support our presentation and Local Board Chair Beth Houlbrooke spoke in support and answered questions. Thank you to all those who signed the petition, those who donated to fund the trip, and to those who helped put the submission and presentation together.
Here is a list of media coverage about our presentation:
Here is the submission lodged with the Select Committee: http://bit.ly/2vO66Zt
LIES, ALTERNATIVE FACTS, FUDGING & FALSE HOPE
In our presentation, we showed evidence that the NZTA knew that the Puhoi to Warkworth Motorway Road of National Significance wouldn’t fix Hill Street Intersection congestion, told the public that it would fix Hill Street, and knew that deteriorating congestion at the intersection would make the case for the motorway stronger.
Effectively, the NZTA gave Hill Street intersection users false hope. To us, that’s not alternative facts or spin. That’s lying. When confronted with this at the Select Committee, the NZTA fudged their answer. When confronted by the media, they denied the allegation but wouldn’t elaborate. Instead, they again fudged their answer: http://bit.ly/2tOdJBL.
We’re not against the Puhoi-Warkworth Motorway or the Matakana Link. We’re against how the cases for them unnecessarily came at the expense of fixing Hill Street. The motorway is a Road of National Significance. The Benefit to Cost Ratio doesn’t necessary matter to justify it.
For the Hill Street intersection, Benefit to Cost Ratio matters. For the upgrade of the SH16/Muriwai Road intersection in Waimauku, the benefits outweighed the costs by a factor of five to one ($30m of benefits for the $6m cost). We estimate that the benefits of fixing Hill Street outweigh the costs of fixing it by a factor of more than 15 to 1.
For the $744m+ cost of the motorway, the benefits of $759m included bypassing a dangerous and windy road and congested Warkworth intersections. That $759m relied on a major upgrade of Hill Street.
But, instead, Hill Street didn’t receive a major upgrade. The motorway will only divert around 15 percent of the traffic away from Hill Street yet take all the benefits away from the intersection to justify its upgrading.
We call that highway robbery.
The government is spending almost $800m to fix 19 percent of the problem when $20m could fix 100 percent of the problem.
By all appearances, NZTA looks like it has thrown Hill Street on to the same heap as Penlink by handing the intersection over to a debt-ridden council. But the NZTA still has statutory responsibility for the intersection on its state highway network and has allocated $2m for the intersection’s investigation and design phases. The problem is when construction can start.
NZTA said that it didn’t want construction to start until 2021 – when the motorway and Matakana Link were completed. When we saw the flowchart below, we were concerned that Auckland Transport would fluff around for the next five years.
Not so said the NZTA and Ministry of Transport representatives at the Select Committee hearing. They reckon that they can get the business case and options available within 12 months. That was when Committee Member Kris Faafoi asked, “You don’t have any designs? What have you been doing for the past nine years?”
This might be a turning point that could push the construction phase forward. Watch this space.
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