I live and work on the edge of the Waterview Connection Study area and have participated in the process to date. I'm angry about this for a number of reasons.
We entered in good faith into a participation process which has lasted quite a few years. This process, as it exposed the costs and benfits of the various options, inexorably steered the designers to a bored tunnel solution. The solution, and the process that led to it, have been kicked aside so that people from the outside (one of whom won't even visit the site) can impose their cheap-arse solution.
The cheapness of the surface option will depend on the mitigation that is demanded. In particular, will NZTA be expected to provide compensatory open space when Allan Wood Park, Oakley Stream reserve etc are ripped up for motorway? Full mitigation would presumably mean more properties acquired, more money spent and more community disruption.
There has never been any route protection for this route. It more or less follows the Southdown-Avondale Railway for part of the route - the railway route protection that went beyond that to Te Atatu was removed yonks ago when someone finally worked out that no-one was ever going to build a new port at Te Atatu. So people who may or may not live on the route have been faced with uncertainty ever since connection options were first raised. If you appear to be on the route (which has meandered from one extreme to the other of the Study Area over time), and you want to sell your property either you lie, you take a price hit because of the uncertainty, or you grovel to NZTA with a hardship application. (Whereas if the route was officially designated, you can compel NZTA to buy at "market rate". But that's a whole other story).
is it just or me or are motorways and roads in general so 20th C? Surely all the selling out the New Zealand government has done since Lange's Labour in privatizing the telecom network, the power grid, various banks, the floating of the dollar, the support in Iraq 1, Afghanistan, tacit support of Iraq 2, the copyright laws, the anti terrorism laws, they've surely by now earned enough brownie points to get a sizeable enough loan to build a decent subway system in Auckland and shake the wheels off the internal combustion engine industry.
Maybe Swampy style protest actions could delay the motorway until we get a Labour/Green government.
build a new port at Te Atatu
Was that ever considered? You could have a huge Auckland yuppie quarter if *all* the wharves were shifted out West. One would need to dynamite a big channel through Meola Reef though. And raise/replace the bridge, possibly?
whoops - offical hat wearing ends there
But it's such a nice hat ...
I'm sorry to be whipping hats on and off, but its for my protection. :)
UV levels being as they are, and all. :)
Forget those silly hats. Dig a sensible tunnel.
sod off to the nearest school, hospice or women's refuge and cash the reality check.
Craig, while I agree about the undue priority given to building roads as opposed to strengthening communities, I do not think that trade-off will fly in this case. They're going to build a transport connection of some sort, not a kohanga reo, no matter how much money may be left over. Good on you for feeling strongly about it though.
build a new port at Te Atatu
Was that ever considered?
It was still on the books well into the 70s, but container ships got bigger and someone worked out the huge money and environmental cost of maintaining a channel. The bridge was built with a navigation span and ships do go up to Chelsea and Kauri Point - but probably not container ships.
Apropos of nothing much, so excuse the diversion: Editing the Herald falls foul of its subject.
Kind of missed my point -- well, totally missed, but shall try again. While tens of millions of dollars might be nothing to the pundit-political complex, it means a hell of a lot to the overwhelming majority of people who actually pay taxes and rates. Wouldn't hurt to be a little less blithely airy-fairy about it, don't you think?
No problem with that, Craig. I guess people scale their expectations to the total size of the project - and $2,205,000,000.00 is not often written out in full for us.
If you live outside the area, I suppose it is nice to think that the sacrifice of the good people of Mount Albert (in terms of homes, neighbours, open space, schools and peace of mind) benefits somebody. I'm not so sure the Mt Albertians quite see it that way.
it means a hell of a lot to the overwhelming majority of people who actually pay taxes and rates. Wouldn't hurt to be a little less blithely airy-fairy about it, don't you think?
If there was any consistency to caring about our Rates and taxes on behalf of the government and Councils Craig ,I could understand your view, but seeing as I already pay large sums of money in these areas and it is only going up by this Super City concept without the public of Auckland having any say and now the motorway in our backyard, I'll take any saving with a grain of salt.
There is no significantly cheaper and better value option. For a start, the cost difference between a full tunnel option and other potential options is not nearly as big as people make it out to be. The Ministry of Transport’s review of the Waterview Connection clearly pointed that out (see page 18 of that document):
To paraphrase (all costs in 2015 dollars)
1) Cost of full tunnel option: $2.005 billion for 4 lanes, $2.335 billion for 6 lanes
2) Cost of cut and partial cover options: $1.790 billion for 4 lanes, $1.813 for 6 lanes
3) Cut and extended cover: $1.988 billion for 4 lanes, $2.205 billion for 6 lanes
4) Open cut (no tunnel at all): $1.456 billion for 4 lanes, $1.585 billion for 6 lanes
So therefore, there is no cheap option. If we compare apples with apples we see that a cut & partial cover option is only around $200 million cheap than a full tunnel option, a cut & extended cover option is around the same cost. An open cut option is $500 million cheaper, but that must be counter-balanced against the huge environmental and social costs that this option would generate. These environmental and social costs would be included in a cost benefit ratio analysis, and may well outweigh the $200-500 million in saved construction costs.
Given the expense of completing the gap I think we need to make sure it’s value for money. I’m very very much not convinced that it is.
What looks pretty on a map isn’t what matters in the end. There are a lot of pressing transport projects in Auckland at the moment - including the rail projects like the CBD tunnel and rail to the airport. Given peak oil uncertainty in the future (and all your biofuel & fairy dust cars won’t become affordable to the masses for decades) and the fact that motorway simply induce travel (and therefore congestion) we need to look at alternatives that can provide better value for money than this project.
I truly believe that the benefits of this project have been overstated. The traffic modelling expects 98% of people travelling from the North Shore to the airport to use this connection, which seems truly bizarre. It also expects to remove 28,000 cars per day from the CMJ - in which case why are we about to spend $600 million on the Victoria Park Tunnel and the Newmarket Viaduct? Time savings benefits have been proven overseas to simply not exist in the longer term (as people drive further rather than travel times being shortened), yet these time savings make up 73% of the benefits of the Waterview Connection.
There are just too many flaws.
If we leave things for a decade, the MoT report says the cost benefit ratio will rise to 1.7 - which is a lot better than 1.15. Furthermore, if we spend that decade building a CBD rail tunnel, rail to the airport and other public transport projects we may find that we don’t need the Waterview Connection anyway. Particularly if petrol is over $3 a litre by then (which is what the NZTA and the ARC anticipate it to be in a decade [in today's dollars] - which I think is conservative).
Wouldn’t it be better to find that out before we spend $2.5-3 billion?
Joshua, an excellent post, thanks for that.
The interesting thing for me is the comparative decisions around all-of-transport spending - yet we only have NZTA who (I believe) are still without any remit over regional public transport. So that discussion on roads v public transport (which should really be a discussion on transport period) doesn't happen at the levels it needs to.
Gareth, the Waterview Connection will be funded by a crown grant (if it is funded). There are no other ways to fund something so big, as neither NZTA nor ARTA consider it to be a priority in their plans that spend petrol tax dollars.
Given that the government has recently removed rail from the NLTP (which decides where petrol tax dollars are spent) and made it reliant upon crown grants we are actually in a situation where you can compare the Waterview Connection with rail improvements - as they would both be funded out of the same pot.
Time for a cost-benefit analysis to be done on the CBD rail loop and rail to the airport I think. Oh, and also time to stop the rort that are time-savings benefits.
Joshua, I think the point Craig was making relates to your use of the word "only" about a $200,000,000.00 difference in cost.
I do agree with your analysis about the perverse focus on building more roads as if peak oil is a fantasy. Taking commuters off the roads frees them up for goods deliveries, so investing in better public transport actually benefits business interests. And probably using less money that could be spent productively elsewhere.
Sacha, in terms of a $3 billion project $200 million is only 7%. Nothing like the "halving the cost" rubbish that is spouted by McShane, Joyce etc. Furthermore, the "cut & partial cover" option is going to still have significant social and environmental effects - that could be more than $200 million. In which case our cost-benefit analysis heads even closer to the negative.
I agree. Has anyone uncovered the advice that led Joyce to include the financing and causeway costs in his total?
Joshua, thanks for the crown grant info. I'd love a single analysis body that considers all transport options for large-scale Auckland projects and then recommends funding priorities then.
Looking longer term, there's some interesting projections to be made about the popularity/usefulness of electric vehicles to be added into the mix.
Off the top of my head, I almost feel like we need public transport investment now to get us through the next 10-20 years, with investment to finish up the roads coming after that (5-10 years away) to be ready to take up the next wave of demand through efficient vehicles. Made that up just then though, so dubious of it's accuracy =)
Sacha, there are two ways that one could answer that question.
Firstly, this is what Steven Joyce said in parliament yesterday:
Hon Darren Hughes: Minus financing costs, what is the cost of the twin two-lane tunnel option for the Waterview Connection that Labour proposed, and how does it compare with the same project—again, without finance costs—of August 2008?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The cost of $2.77 billion provided in the business case that was sought by the previous Government and provided to the incoming Government after the election included financing costs of $200 million. For the member’s benefit—I have some concern at his skill level—I tell him that without those financing costs the cost is $2.57 billion.
Hon Darren Hughes: Why will the Minister not just front up about the actual cost of the Waterview project without the extra things he has included in it, which no other project faces—like financing costs or the additional scoping of the project—and tell us that the cost of the project is not $2.77 billion, as he keeps claming publicly, but rather $1.98 billion if finance costs, which no other project faces, are not included?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That is much better. I have been quite upfront about this matter, and the business case has been published. The $2.77 billion includes $240 million of costs for increasing capacity on State Highway 16, and financing costs of around $200 million, which are simply for during the period of construction. Under the business case sought by the previous Government, that funding was added because there was an understanding that the project would not be completed from within the National Land Transport Fund, and that therefore those funding costs would need to be provided during the project’s construction. I can tell the member, in order to alleviate his concerns, that any alternative options for advancement of the Waterview Connection will include comparisons on a like-with-like basis.
The other possibility is that Joyce wants a 6 lane link and realises that getting that built as a tunnel is impossible ($3.2 billion I think). So he wanted to make all tunnel options seem unfeasibly expensive. Now, in some ways I think that what he has done is justifiable - as financing will be required (as it will be funded from debt, not from the NLTP), SH16 will need to be upgraded and costs may have escalated.
Yet all these additional costs will have to be added to EACH AND EVERY OPTION considered. You will still get financing costs on the open cut option and you'll still need to upgrade SH16. So this may backfire on him and make every option unaffordable.
If the cost was $1.9 billion still I would say "let's think about it", but at $2.8 billion for a tunnel option (and $2.2 billion for a cheap and nasty open cut option) I say "forget about it".
Too expensive. Look for alternatives.
Gareth, electric cars will still be congested. Auckland's population will be 2.3 million by 2050 - that's a lot of electric cars stuck in traffic jams.