In a week where the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research released a report estimating that Auckland congestion costs the economy $1.9b, Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers presented to the Auckland Transport Board about suggested improvements in and around the Hill Street intersection.
The NZIER report ‘Benefits from Auckland road decongestion’ can be downloaded from here: http://bit.ly/2f8Kfs0. It was commissioned by the Employers and Manufacturers Association, Auckland International Airport Ltd, Infrastructure NZ, Ports of Auckland Ltd and the National Road Carriers Association.
Greater Auckland published this analysis of the report, pushing their own cause in the process: http://bit.ly/2vkEYE4.
The NZIER report bases its findings on a few numbers pumped into a spreadsheet. The findings reinforce the position of those who commissioned the report, i.e., the transport and road building industry.
We’ve seen numbers pumped into a spreadsheet before. Remember the Puhoi-Warkworth RoNS Business Case? (http://bit.ly/2kUWOIh) That report effectively justified spending $750m on a motorway at the expense of fixing the Hill Street intersection.
Building motorways is big business. Consultants and lobbyists can clip a bigger chunk out of the ticket. In the short time that we waited at Parliament’s reception area last week, we watched a procession of former ministerial advisors/cronies (who are now ‘government relations managers’ in large infrastructure companies) stream towards ministers’ offices.
Greater Auckland reckon that the escalating cost of roading is due to the nature of existing road corridors (http://bit.ly/2vqOQf4). Looking at Warkworth – where there is plenty of land available for new road corridors – the issues are exorbitant compliance costs and exploitative consultant fees. Roads are over-designed, over-managed, and there is over-demand for labour and materials. In other words, the industry is milking it. And we’ve seen it with how the NZTA and Auckland Transport is willing to spend $800m+ building a ring road and motorway bypass which they know won’t fix Hill Street.
First on the agenda for the 1 August Auckland Transport board meeting was a presentation by Greg Sayers in support of a resolution of the Snells Beach Residents and Ratepayers Association (http://bit.ly/2vkUdN8). Here is the presentation: http://bit.ly/2w8ShVQ.
Ahead of the meeting, Greg lodged four suggestions:
To ensure that, once the design for the major upgrade of the Hill Street intersection was completed, that construction commence without delay (currently construction is currently delayed until the end of 2021);
That minor works improvements to Sandspit Road commence to improve traffic flow and safety, including –
a. Moving the Sandspit Road pedestrian crossing to the traffic lights,
b. A sliplane between Sandspit Road and Elizabeth Street,
c. An extra lane at the Sandspit Road/ Elizabeth Street give way towards the traffic lights, and
d. Traffic signalling for the Elizabeth Street/Sandspit Road intersection.
Completion of the Sandspit Link (between Matakana Link and Sandspit Road) at the same time as the Matakana Link; and
Extending/realigning the motorway so that the 100km/h zone extend uninterrupted to the Matakana and Sandspit Links.
Auckland Transport’s response demonstrated that they hadn’t and won't give the suggestions much thought. Here is our rebuttal: http://bit.ly/2wnnQuh. In short:
If Auckland Transport came up with a design that could be built sooner, why wouldn’t you?
Why say that the culvert under Sandspit Road couldn’t support widening of the road when a simple site visit would show otherwise?
Why wait twenty years to build the Sandspit Link when your own business case states that it would reduce congestion much more than the Matakana Link alone?
Why not ask the NZTA for money to build the Sandspit Link at the same time as the Matakana Link when your own engineers say that Sandspit Road is already operating to capacity and the NZTA’s revised projections show that Sandspit Road traffic will double within the next nine years?
Why not insist to the NZTA to revise the alignment of the Matakana Link with the Motorway when your joint models show that the current proposed Matakana Link alignment will become a bottleneck?
Thank you, Greg, and the SBRRA for trying to wake up Auckland Transport, which is sleepwalking towards inheriting New Zealand’s worst intersection. Maybe they need some shock treatment to wake them up?
After Greg Sayers presented, the Auckland Transport board continued their meeting, focusing on bigger ticket items: http://bit.ly/1pPVDoN.
In response to the NZIER report, the person who appoints the board of Auckland Transport, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, said that it takes too much time and money to make decisions. Maybe he should attend the next Auckland Transport board meeting?
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