This is part 2 of our series wrapping up the key news and events of the year. You can see
In this part, I’m going to look at roads.
Waterview/Western Ring Route
The country’s biggest roading project saw substantial sections completed this year
Waterview has definitely made a big difference to some journeys but it’s a shame that more hasn’t been done to capitalise on the change in traffic volumes on local roads, such as re-purposing space for walking, cycling and PT.
There has also been silly complaints about how there are permanent speed cameras in the tunnels. In my view, there are so many signs advising of the speed limit, if someone chooses to pay a voluntary tax by ignoring them then that’s no-one’s fault but their own.
Lincoln to Westgate
The widening of the motorway between Lincoln Rd and Westgate kicked into full gear this year. What’s most annoying about this project is that much of the work is going to have to be dug up again in a few years to built a Northwestern Busway or light rail,.
Northern Corridor Improvements
The Northern Corridor project should be the last of the Western Ring Route and spent most of the year going through the consenting process via a Board of Inquiry. Unlike other projects, this had very little opposition, which is in part due to the fact it was truly a multi-modal project given it included an extension of the Northern Busway and added numerous walking and cycling routes.
Along with the Northern Corridor, the East-West Link progressed through the consent process this year. We even had a surprising ally in the opposition to the project in the form of one of the key infrastructure lobby groups, who described it as more expensive than a corruption ridden project in Russia. I do wonder if they regret their submission given how often it’s now quoted.
The project was ultimately approved by the Board of Inquiry, but not before the incoming government announced they would be reviewing the project to look for a cheaper alternative. This is likely to be an important project to watch in 2018
Another project to gain approval this year was the proposed upgrade of Lincoln Rd. We’d like to see some more thought put into the design to give a better outcome than the pseudo motorway that’s currently planned,
Progress was made on the other Roads of National Significance over the year. One of the more interesting stories relates to Transmission Gully where it was found that the earthworks required were underestimated by up to 50%.
There has always been the spectre of a second round of RoNS projects and that came very close to becoming a reality after the former National Government proposed another tranche of projects as part of their election policy. The main problem is they showed the diminishing returns from large scale road investment as many of the roads selected have such low usage that they would be hard to justify.
With a new government we’ll hopefully see the end of many of those projects in their current form.
Road safety has been a hot topic this year we experience our highest number of road deaths in many years. In the last 12 months (to Dec-27) there have been over 380 death on our roads. That compares to the low point of 253 in 2013.
We’ve long called for a Vision Zero approach to safety and with a new government, it looks like we might finally move towards that. They have already made steps to reduce the carnage of the road with a series of quick wins being implemented over summer. We look forward to seeing more of this in 2018.
Anything major that I’ve missed?