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Speaker: Why all the fuss over six trees?

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  • Sacha,

    Totally agree. The 'supercity' governance arrangements ensure this sort of mad outcome. Most of the board of Auckland Transport is appointed by central government, not by Auckland Councillors who the people elect to oversee local interests. Auckland Transport's oversight is back on the agenda today. Hopefully people get better at joining the dots. This stuff matters.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    There is certainly a sense among many commentators that unelected officials have been given far too much power…

    Welcome to the neo-liberal state. Rodney Hide didn’t create the CCO abominations for them to be democratically accountable and consultative organisations working with the people of Auckland, they were created to be gift-wrapped privatisation presents for the rapacious Auckland business class.

    And if you haven’t noticed that centralised authoritarian solutions to problems is pretty much the Key government’s solution to any problem created by alternative values or thinking, then you’ve been asleep for seven years.

    It’ll be the same with the RMA reforms – They’ll get rammed through, a compliant media will talk about couples bonking in public and in a year everyone will sit around wailing about how powerless they are to stop a Chinese corporation building a mega-resort at Cathedral cove, and wondering why that nice Mr. Key could possibly have let it happen.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Reynolds,

    Thank-you for adding your voice to this. Where I agree most strongly with you is your characterisation of this process as a sign of insane values. It is I think much more that than an example of privileged elites. And I mean this very precisely. The way our transport institutions are organised have led to the elevation of one class of technocrat into total over-reach. The Traffic Engineer.

    Traffic Engineering is a technical discipline, and a fairly straightforward one, it has an important role to play in the service of city. For some reason we have allowed processes to develop where these technocrats [and specifically these ones] are the final arbiters of every decision about the quality of our world.

    The phrase they use to achieve this is TINA; There Is No Alternative. For some reason this makes those who should be guiding these [an unfashionable phrase now, I know] public servants surrender their oversight.

    There are always alternatives. Good engineering is problem solving, great engineering is creative problem solving. The thing that has to change is our Traffic Engineers need clear direction that their masters are not their own self-serving traffic models, or even traffic flow itself [the whole characterisation of traffic as a liquid is problematic in this- it behaves more like a gas; it goes wherever you allow it], but place, culture, community, life.

    They are generally not trained to understand these ideas, or indeed much that isn't easily reduced to math, so they need to put back in the tool box and kept from the massive over-reach they have come accustomed to. They should not be unhappy with this, they are after all only being used by others in their elevation to the strange and unlikely priesthood in our culture.

    Traffic flow, what a curious idol. An insane world indeed.

    You are right; this issue is symbolic of our exhaustion with this insane arrangement, and it has to be reformed.

    There is BTW a great deal of blame shifting going on behind the scenes on this issue; the role of the all powerful and largely unaccountable wing of NZTA called Highway Network Operations [HNO] needs more daylight here; eg What traffic non-negotiables did they demand of AT for this intersection? There is much much more to come on this.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    in a year everyone will sit around

    You forgot to note that in two years that nice Mr Key will promise everyone a tax cut and all this wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth will be forgotten and they'll vote for him again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Tony makes some very good points about the high priests who serve the great god called Traffic.
    But of course they are completely fallible with their computer aided prognostications as we saw with the joining of the South Western motorway with the Southern at Wiri. The computer models said it would be fine but from the day it opened there were massive traffic jams. The benefits of the new motorway lanes were unrealised as the so called saving in travel time evaporated. I can see this happening with the interchange at Pt Chev . Under the original plan approved under Labour there would have been no connection with the city bound lanes ( and the widening through Western Springs). Yet again there will be an unrealised dream of reduced travel time for those heading to the city.
    The sacrifice of the pohutukawa will have been in vain

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    Interesting to me is the rage over a bunch of old trees. So many people expressing their angst. But where is the angst for the CO2 reaching 400.46 ppm today according to the Keeling Curve? Where are the raging citizens about that?
    It seems to me that we can get roused over small and but tangible issues like trees and flags but ignore Asset Sales, Climate Change.
    Has Mr Key twigged that big issues are too hard for a population to handle?

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    or should that be ‘my way is the highway’?

    Hang on! This is Auckland "CRL or bust or both" Transport you're talking about. Whatever their stance - or process - regarding the trees, you can't suggest they're anything besides enthusiastic champions of public transport and cycle lanes.

    Sure, PT & cycling have a long way to go in this town and country. But I'm not being Pollyanna when I look at the gains of the last 4 years.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Ianmac, I think that people do care. Rhy Jones, the author of this post is a spokesperson with Ora Taiao, a prominent climate change & health lobby group.

    These trees are emblematic of a number of issues. After agriculture, our largest emission source is transport, and this has increased massively since 1990. Our present transport path is not good for either humans or the atmosphere. They're about quality of life in the urban environment. And they are of course trees, but excellent represenatives of the class of trees, and as such more loveable than the millions of pinus radiata that have been cut down to make way for dairying in the last 10 years.

    Given that this is a winnable fight, it's one worth having, even if "Riggles" the angry traffic engineer wins. I hope he doesn't.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Can someone fill us in on the implications for the Gt Nth Rd and NW Motorway if the trees stay, and if they go?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • EliotBlennerhassett,

    Replace pohutukawa trees with Victoria Square, more lanes with hmm, nothing?, and this piece sums up the situation here in Christchurch.
    And as for resource consent hearing ... you should be so lucky

    Christhcurch • Since Jan 2010 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    so that in about ten years’ time motorists can save a few minutes

    Whatever the gain, the problem is more serious than this flippancy suggests. I travel through there daily, usually by car, sometimes by bike.

    Leaving Grey Lynn at 5, it's not uncommon for traffic to be backed up hundreds of metres before the Bullock Track to the corner of St Lukes. By car, that can be a 30 minute wait.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    You could walk in to the CBD from Grey Lynn in not much longer than that.

    A $50 congestion charge (or a variable congestion charge on the airline model so as to regulate the number of vehicles to match road capacity) would solve the problem without pouring any concrete. Worked well in London.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Leaving Grey Lynn at 5, it's not uncommon for traffic to be backed up hundreds of metres before the Bullock Track to the corner of St Lukes. By car, that can be a 30 minute wait.

    So don't go that way then or go by bus or by bike
    . The only problem with the Bullock track is you can't see the traffic until you're in it but if its five o'clock you can make a good guess its going to be there.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Given how short the extra lane replacing the tress is in the plans, looks like about another 7 vehicles will sit there between light changes, waiting to sit on the wider motorway overbridge before either continuing to St Lukes or turning onto the motorway westbound. Doesn't seem like much of an overall gain.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    By car, that can be a 30 minute wait.

    I see a gap in the market for roadside hard boiled egg sellers!
    Order at the Bullock track - Pickup at St Lukes
    Breakfast of Champions!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Rhys Jones, in reply to Patrick Reynolds,

    Patrick, thanks for your response. I generally agree, although I firmly believe that insane values extend well beyond our transport institutions and affect every area of public policy. The directions we're heading in as a country - increasing social inequality, privatisation of assets, promotion of fossil fuel exploration, etc - are symptomatic of this corruption of values. Those 'privileged elites' have been very successful at influencing public debate to serve their own interests.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    A $50 congestion charge (or a variable congestion charge on the airline model so as to regulate the number of vehicles to match road capacity) would solve the problem without pouring any concrete. Worked well in London.

    Thats going to desriminate against those who can't afford to live within walking distence of town. I'll assume goods and services vehicles would be exempt.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Rhys Jones, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yes, I'm certainly not trying to downplay the traffic problems that exist at that intersection, even now, but simply building more traffic lanes is unlikely to solve those problems. Widening roads usually just encourages more people to use them, so you end up with similar levels of congestion - but even more cars on the road. Discouraging private motor vehicle use (e.g. through congestion charging) and/or offering alternatives to driving (e.g. by improving active and public transport infrastructure) will almost certainly be better solutions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    All good suggestions, which I make regular use of (and no problems with a toll). But - what with me living in Titirangi and all - sometimes it's the car. Sometimes I can dodge that road. Sometimes I can't.

    But as a regular user of that road in all its modes (including the motat tram!) I kinda need the numbers in the cost/benefit before I can get involved in the tree debate.

    Just hoped someone here might have them.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to steven crawford,

    The raised funds can go to providing adequate public transport that's faster than driving.

    Goods and service vehicles can factor the charge into their costs, given that it would apply to every business equally (or choose to deliver off peak).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    It’ll be the same with the RMA reforms – They’ll get rammed through, a compliant media will talk about couples bonking in public and in a year everyone will sit around wailing about how powerless they are to stop a Chinese corporation building a mega-resort at Cathedral cove, and wondering why that nice Mr. Key could possibly have let it happen.

    It can only be poetic justice if the likes of Donald Trump and Emaar Properties propose something suitably super-tall in Parnell or Remuera or Mt Eden. Just for fun, I tweeted ACT's Epsom MP David Seymour if he'd veto any Trump projects. He simply replied, "nobody trumps the rule of law" and that Epsom is already the "highest population density of any electorate". It'd be even more amusing if Trump himself got pissed off and labelled Seymour a NIMBY.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*, in reply to Sacha,

    Oh, great, thanks Sacha.

    Mmm. That does indeed look a bit *whatevs*. I thought maybe it was more to do with the motorway than Gt Nth Rd.

    Any links to how AT's version of it?

    Ian Dalziel: where's Fay Weldon when you need her?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Given how short the extra lane replacing the tress is in the plans, looks like about another 7 vehicles will sit there between light changes, waiting to sit on the wider motorway overbridge before either continuing to St Lukes or turning onto the motorway westbound. Doesn't seem like much of an overall gain.

    It is possible that they will phase the lights going onto the motorway to favour the increased flow capacity that the widening would create, at peak times. But I think you're right, the real bottleneck is actually the on-ramp intersection itself. That's always been how I've experienced it. Even if it's two lanes wide, the fact that it's got lights stopping it half the time means its real flow is only that of one lane anyway. One lane is quite sufficient to fill the bridge completely between phases. There is also the on-ramp flow control lights which carefully meter the flow onto the motorway - at busy times, the flow further back can't really exceed this. It will, in fact, be less, because there is traffic coming down St Lukes Rd and turning onto the motorway there, which is unimpeded by any signals and directly competes for those lanes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rhys Jones, in reply to Ianmac,

    Thanks for your comments, Ian. That was part of my motivation for writing this piece - trying to understand what it was that had got people (myself included) so invested in the fate of six trees. They are magnificent, but it's not like their removal poses an existential threat.

    Having said that, at one level the campaign to save the 'Pōhutukawa 6' could be seen as a tiny battle in the much larger war against political ideologies that create problems like climate change. So perhaps there is a bit of 'think global, act local' going on. Problems like climate change are big and complex and scary. Saving these trees, on the other hand, is much easier to get your head around and - as George says - seems like a winnable fight.

    I guess the question this raises is how that level of passion and citizenship can be translated into action on those 'big issues'.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

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