The massive Transmission Gully project was in the news twice yesterday.

Junky Economics

In the first bit of news, the NZTA announced that once complete in 2020, Transmission Gully will not be tolled.

“In line with our tolling policy, the Transport Agency assesses all new state highway projects for tolling feasibility,” Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says.

“Part of this feasibility assessment is to understand the impacts that tolling might have on road users, the transport system, and local communities.

“When considering whether tolling may be appropriate, we need to weigh the potential benefits netted in revenue against any likely negative impacts in terms of safety, access and value-for-money.

“Our assessment indicated that the net potential revenue over the lifetime of the toll was unlikely to make a meaningful contribution to the cost of the road.

“In addition, our assessment showed that tolling the road would likely result in more drivers choosing to use the coastal route (the current State Highway 1), which would compromise the safety, environmental and access benefits which the new road will deliver for drivers as well as for communities along the coastal route.

“The Transport Agency was also asked to consider whether tolling could be used as a measure to reduce congestion in the region by managing demand.

“Modelling, in this instance, indicated that tolling Transmission Gully would be ineffective in encouraging people to choose other modes of transport and would more likely encourage people to take their cars on the coastal route.

There are a couple of things to unpack here.

Toll Amount

It’s unclear just how much a toll would have been but Radio NZ reported a 2016 review estimated a $1.50 toll on cars and $3 on trucks would raise $3.5 million a year.

The article also published a document from the NZTA obtained via an OIA that on the issue and it includes this comparison of the other toll roads in NZ.

Since this was created, the NZTA have increased the cost of tolls by 10c for cars and 10-20 cents for trucks.

Traffic Diversion

The business cases to justify many large transport projects like Transmission Gully rely heavily on the benefit of travel time savings. It is worked out how much faster the project will make trips and then multiply that by the number of trips that will be made over the assessment period. This results in some obscenely large number of hours of travel the project is expected to save which is then multiplied by a dollar value (as set out in the NZTA’s Economic Evaluation Model). That dollar value is meant to represent the value of saving that time.

In their evidence used to get the project consented, the NZTA say Transmission Gully will save 7 minutes despite the road being 0.7km longer than the current coastal route.

A vehicle travelling at the posted speed limit of 100km/hr between Linden and MacKays Crossing will take approximately 16 minutes on the Main Alignment, which is nearly 7 minutes (or approximately 30%) less than using the existing SH1, which is approximately 23 minutes

While a much longer route, that’s a similar overall time saving to what the Northern Gateway Toll road achieved.

They also have estimated that by 2026, about 22,300 vehicles a day will use the main part of Transmission Gully. This compares to the current route which sees approximately 26k vehicles per day through this section

But if even a small toll causes a lot of people to be diverted away from using the road then clearly those travel time savings are junk and perhaps we need to reassess just how valuable they actually are.

Contributions to the cost of the road

Transmission Gully is one of the largest transport projects undertaken with an estimated cost of about $850 million. However it’s also the first project to be built using a Public Private Partnership (PPP) which is essentially a rent to own scheme where the private entity pays to build the road and then we pay them back over a long period of time at a much higher interest rate than the government can get providing the road is open. The only other project currently being built as a PPP is the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, although the Super Fund essentially want one to build Light Rail.

For Transmission Gully that once construction finishes, every year for the following 25 years we’ll be paying $125 million or more – as shown below. All up we’ll end up paying well in excess of $3 billion for the project. In this context even the $16 million annually achieved by the Northern Gateway toll road is a small, but surely something is better than nothing at all.

While on the subject of cost contributions, inevitably people will claim that they pay for the road through fuel taxes. While that is true at a broad level across the transport sphere, at a detailed level these big projects don’t come close to breaking even financially. For example, a standard car will probably use probably use around 3-4 litres of petrol to drive the 27km of Transmission Gully which means about $2-3 of tax. As with the tolling, based on the number of people expected to use the road it doesn’t come close to covering the cost of the project.

Goes against advice

It’s hard to see how the NZTA have arrived at this interpretation given their position in the previously mentioned document obtained by RNZ. It includes a briefing to Phil Twyford from February last year on tolling the project and shows the NZTA were enthusiastic for it. This is because tolling would allow them to get “a more mode-neutral solution” and could be a step towards “a more modern road pricing system“.

Given some of the media of late, this makes me wonder if the decision was actually a political one

Gunky Harbours

In the second piece of news, it was reported that runoff from the project was having a significantly negative impact on Porirua Harbour

Runoff from the huge Transmission Gully roading project in Wellington has contributed to sediment build-up suffocating wildlife in Porirua Harbour, a survey shows.

Completed by Porirua City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council, the survey of Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour paints a bleak picture of the health of the waterway north of Wellington.

It shows sediment rates have more than doubled in the last five years.

Scientist Megan Oliver from the regional council said long-term patterns of silt build-up were becoming clear.

She said the average silt build-up rate over the last 10 years was 4mm per year for Pauatahanui and 3.6mm for Onepoto.

This is about three-times the normal rate, she said.

Dr Oliver said the increasing sludge was smothering wildlife such as fish and invertebrates and destroying biodiversity.

“When we have a big rainfall event and a whole slug of sediment enters the harbour it basically … smothers everything … it chokes them.”

The nearby giant Transmission Gully highway construction project – a major new arterial route into the capital – was likely contributing to silt entering the waterway, she said.

This follows on from it being discovered back in 2017 that the project needed 50% more earthworks presumably more associated runoff.

Is there anything good about this project?

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58 comments

  1. And we know that sediment is a contaminant of concern in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management because of those very reasons. Then the road will be opened and we’ll have microplastics and heavy metals from tyre wear getting into the harbour too. We need a rethink of our transport network, using the lens of freshwater management as the key driver. Would change our infrastructure investments drastically

    1. +1 – Look after the water. It should be number 1 priority. Imagine if transport projects were tasked with improving water quality and not messing with existing hydrological processes as opposed to just mitigating negative effects. With a bit of right brain creative thinking overlaid onto the left it could be possible.

      The results could be epic for NZ, as we fulfill the promise of being this clean green utopia that we bang on about but are failing at so incredibly. T
      This will be a massive economic advantage/point of difference in the future me thinks as well… *Dog whistle – to the corporate overlords.

      I appreciate the above is cannon fodder to rip into the ‘hippies’, and the ‘greenies’ for the vast majority. However it doesn’t matter who you are if we f#ck with the water it will have negative consequences for us all.

      ‘The rivers and seas are lords of a hundred valleys. This is because their strength is in lowliness; they are kings of them all. So it is that the perfect master wishing to lead them, he follows. Thus, though he is above them, he follows. Thus, though he is above them, men do not feel him to be an injury. And since he will not strive, none strive with him’. – Principle of Wu Wei – #BruceLeesaidit

      But Meh to Porirua Harbour…because i can get to Levin 30 mins faster now with enough time to stop at Maccas along the way.

      1. That’s exactly it. The baseline measurement for a transport project is a demonstrable improvement in water quality. Combine that with design principles that emphasise accessibility for the least abled in our society and we’d have radically new infrastructure

      2. In fairness it’s a lot more than just a few greenies and hippies that care about water quality, I’d say the majority are concerned. The hurdle we have to get over is the widespread belief that urban water degradation is just a fact of life in cities.

        1. Yep that’s fair Jezza… My comment was purposefully titillating/tongue and cheek..

          Humans like all living things are inherently self interested to a degree.

          There is unfortunately a degree of cognitive dissonance at play though when it comes to these sorts of things.

          From a personal energy conservation point of view, namely ‘time’. The seduction of getting to Levin 30 minutes quicker; overwhelms my care for the impact on the hydrological systems that have been impacted to get me to Levin at break neck speed.

          The world is full of people that ‘care’ about things. Just check out Facebook after a major crisis … Je t’aime Paris, Aroha Nui for ChCh. These things quickly fall to the past (at an ever increasing speed).

          By baking water management as a priority as part of planning. It helps to offset this bias/self interest that we all have. Me included.

  2. This project damges the environment, and has some really terrible mortgage with a gazillion percent interest on it. The government is unwilling to borrow money at a low interest, yet we get lumped with these backwards projects, that will cost 3 times as much dues to this PPP rubbish. Surely this should have been a high speed rail project? Why are we still appeasing the AA?

    1. It’s not about appeasing the AA, it’s about appeasing the capital markets.

      As I said on the Light Rail post – the real agenda is providing avenues for investment for the private sector. Actual transport outcomes (let alone the environment) take a very distant place.

  3. I don’t think Wellington will achieve affordable housing, in particular stop its rapid rent rises that is now worse than Auckland’s, until they congestion charge its motorway network.

    Congestion charging has the potential for turning the motorways into a bus rapid transit network. Which would mean affordable, density-done-well TOD could be built in highly accessible locations. Such as Lincolnshire Farm located between Wellington, Lower Hutt and Porirua Cities.

    Maybe someone else can come up with a better plan for Wellington building affordable housing but so far I have not heard it.

    Here is my description of the opportunity that Wellington has.
    https://medium.com/land-buildings-identity-and-values/fixing-wellington-a6c431a4894c

  4. Brendon – how the heck do you reckon Lincolnshire Farm is going to be TOD? It is up on the plateau at the top of the hills, way up above the trains in the tunnels below and the motorway in the gully below. They were looking at the site as being suitable for another site for an airport for god’s sake, except that it was going to be in the clouds all the time! Lincolnshire Farm development is going to be nothing more than yet another suburban site, with people driving into town. In theory, they could pick up a feeder route bus to take them to Johnsonville rail station, but my bet is that just isn’t going to happen that much…

    1. In Helsinki where I lived there was lots of bus rapid transit TOD suburbs. These suburbs were quite different to NZ suburbs because of the high BRT transport mode share i.e. more high density housing, apartments, terraces etc. Less car parking. More walking and cycling.

      Wellington could very cheaply create a BRT network by congestion charging its motorways. This would also benefit the rail corridors and the LGWM proposals (Rapid transit connection from city to airport).

      Lincolnshire farm will be developed at some point. Wouldn’t it be better to master plan it into a TOD?

    2. Also if the motorways are free flowing why wouldn’t the ‘feeder buses’ go directly to a central PT hub like Wellington train station?

      Why feed local Johnsonville when journey time-wise the better option is to feed Wellington?

      P.S there would be a logic for feeding Lower Hutt and Porirua train stations. But that is not so much as providing a feeder as providing a rapid transit connection between the two main rail corridors, with Lincolshire Farm TOD conveniently being located in the middle.

      1. Motorways are terrible for BRT as there is no easy way of having stations along the way. This means you have to run separate routes for each location, meaning frequency has to be sacrificed, therefore it’s not really rapid transit.

        1. That was not my experience in Helsinki. Buses serviced a high density suburb, for example about 20 km west of the city centre. They spent 5 to 10 mins picking up passengers. Jumped on a BRT motorway. Stopped once before the city end of the motorway. Frequency was a bus every 15min and they took about 25 to 30min to get to the centre.
          The major difference was wrt housing not transport. We should be looking at how we build new suburbs.

        2. 15 mins is a pretty poor frequency for BRT and a TOD. I’m guessing to justify the investment in the BRT motorway there are other routes that use it as well. In this case the buses are much higher frequency overall but due to the design only some of them can be caught from each destination.

        3. In Helsinki’s case. There was a western motorway going for about 10km past a series of coastal suburbs. Each suburb used the BRT motorway. But they were not connected to each other via the BRT motorway. Since I left Helsinki they have started to upgrade the corridor to a rail subway service. Which will have better connectivity.

          In Wellintons case the infrastructure is already there. You do not to build BRT lanes.

          What is needed is a price mechanism so buses can cheaply access free flowing motorways.

          Also Lincolnshire farm could improve Wellingtons rapid transit network by connecting the Hutt Valley and Porirua train lines. With a fast direct bus route.

          Given the connectivity potential it should be possible to build a popular density done well suburb there.

        4. Brendon – it is doubtful that anyone would live in Lincolnshire Farm and work anywhere other than Wellington. Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua – they are all really just satellite dormitory suburbs of Wellington when it comes to office jobs. Plenty of industrial jobs out in the Hutt and Porirua, but my guess is that the Lincolnshire house prices would be out of reach of the Hutt workers. That’s why, being brutally honest, the Farm needs to connect only to the CBD. It would be great if there was a train link there so it could really be TOD, but it is way too high above the train lines – realistically it’ll be a car-only suburb.

    3. You can’t run BRT on motorways, because you can’t stop buses on motorways, and you can’t easily leave a motorway and return to it again, and motorways aren’t where people are or want to go. BRT in a motorway corridor requires, at a minimum, building interchange stations and bus only access ramps, congestion or not.

      What you are proposing are express buses. Hundreds of them each covering a little suburban service area then running a very long dead run into town to converge on a single terminal. We’ve tried that before, it’s a very good way to spend a heap on opex, create bus congestion issues at huge terminals, yet achieve poor service levels.

      Journey time isn’t actually so great when your express bus only runs once an hour, because it’s intrinsically inefficient in terms of the kms and hours that need to be run vs. the number of passengers it can actually carry.

      1. The frequency of the BRT (or Express buses if you want to call them that) would depend on the size, density and therefore population of the proposed TOD Lincolnshire suburb.

        I acknowledge that once on the motorway the buses would not stop. But how is that different to the trains to Lower Hutt for instance? They do not stop for the long stretch between Wellington and Petone.

        1. Trains to Upper Hut carry passengers from more than 10 different stations, that is why the current frequency can be justified. A train from just one of those stations could probably only be justified every hour.

        2. Suburbs in Lower and Upper Hutt are very low density. They are not very good examples of TOD. If NZ built suburbs with European type densities then there would be more passengers per stop.

        3. I agree they are very low density. However, if they were European density TODs there would be a train every 3 – 5 mins, rather than in individual train from each station every 20 mins.

          3 – 5 mins frequency with connections to many locations is what makes living in a TOD appealing. I can’t for the life of me see why someone would want to live in high density housing with the PT option being a 30 min trip with 15 min frequency to a single location.

        4. Lincolnshire Farm would be 20 minute to the city and 10 to 15 min to Lower Hutt or Porirua.
          If the suburb could be built with good quality yet affordable medium density houding then of course it would be popular.

        5. “[Trains] do not stop for the long stretch between Wellington and Petone” – yes they do: except for expresses in the peaks, trains stop at Ngauranga.

      2. Also because of the congestion charging buses will replace cars so I cannot see why you think this proposal will lead to more congestion?
        If buses themselves reach congestion constraints. Then their will be an economic incentive to replace them with a more spatial efficient mode for the congested routes. Like light rail down the golden mile and out to Newtown… i.e. LGWM

        1. Yes I mean bus congestion, which is a huge problem where you run a large number of individually low occupancy bus lines to a single place.

          In effect, that is exactly what the light rail in LGWM is trying to change with regard to the golden mile. It does that by creating one high capacity line that serves a dozen major suburbs and destinations directly, *and* by replacing a a large morass of low frequency direct service buses (like you describe) with feeders routes that only go so far as the light rail line, that means the trunk also serves dozens more neighbourhoods beyond it’s immediate catchment. That is the essence of rapid transit, bus or otherwise. One service pattern carries demand to and from two dozen neighbourhoods and centres.

        2. I don’t disagree with your description of LGWM.

          But that is just one type of rapid transit spatial model.

          Essentially Wellington’s rapid transit spatial model is a linear model of 3 northerly train lines meeting at Wellington train station. LGWM intends to make that more useful by extending it southward to the airport.

          I am suggesting Wellington could get a bus rapid transit connection between its corridors and to Wellington if it built Lincolnshire farm on a density done well basis and congestion charged the motorways.

          The would also be useful because it would provide affordable housing, mitigate against congestion and would provide better connectivity.

        3. “LGWM intends to make that [rail] more useful by extending it southward [from Wellington Station] to the airport” – no, LGWM’s plan is separate “mass transit” (type as yet unspecified) line to the airport.

          There is no proposal to extend the rail network through the CBD, but perhaps there should be!

        4. Sure it is not the same train line. But LGWM is still a rapid transit corridor that connects to the end of the existing rapid transit service. Therefore it does make Wellingtons rapid transit network more useful.
          P.S Maybe Wellington will get tram/trains when they build LGWM?

  5. I’ve never been keen on Transmission Gully, although it will improve the traffic width of SH1 i.e. 2 lanes each way, both into and out of the city. At present there are significant traffic delays each morning and afternoon, which get significantly worse when there are crashes – usually at least a couple each week. It is a crazily expensive project – and also a feat of engineering. Makes the Hamilton Expressway look like a walk through a well manicured lawn by comparison.

    However, the worst thing about Transmission Gully is, however, that the thinking hasn’t been done. It is going to take cars away from the trains as it will be faster, and it will permit the huge bunch of cars travelling south each morning, to all hit the city at much the same time – our morning rush hour congestion is probably going to get a helluva lot worse. But the worst thing is that the extra vehicle traffic it is going to encourage is simply not going to fit into the city – there is literally no room, either on the roads or in parking buildings. It will be, quite literally, carmageddon.

    1. So Wellington needs congestion road pricing.

      If congestion road pricing is implemented what opportunities does that bring?

    2. Brendon – i totally agree that we need congestion charging – the key to making it work in Wellington is that it would need to be on both routes – old and new. Luckily there are only two routes – no other options – so you have to make it compulsory to pay on both routes. If you just put it on the new route (TG) then more people will stay on the old route, and vice versa.

      As it is, my money is on the likelihood that while the car traffic will transfer onto the new TG route, most of the trucks are going to stay on the old coastal route. The coastal route is a lot flatter, and therefore easier on truck engines and gearboxes – the new TG route has a slope as steep as Ngauranga Gorge, but 3x as long – i.e. a real truck killer. Regardless, the population of the only two villages likely to be affected by the success of TG or not (Paekakariki and Pukerua) is waiting to see if the new Gully route will really offer reprieve from 70 years of ever-increasing traffic.

      1. I agree congestion charging needs to be on both routes. Ngauranga Gorge to the city would need to be free flowing at peak times for my proposal to be viable.

        1. Agreed – but the crux of the matter is that people don’t pay a toll on the existing route now, and so if you bring a new toll in and place it on both routes (as we both agree you would have to), then you have a lot of grumpy people who are paying a toll for using a road that is currently toll-free.

          But it is interesting to do the math. Even if you just charge users $1 each (each way, each day), then the current 26,000 users each day will generate about $19million a year, or $474million over 25 years (without inflation). That’s in contrast to the $3billion the government will pay to the consortium over the same length of time. I can’t help thinking that overall, the Government has been royally screwed by the contractors on this one…

        2. Guy the congestion charge would need to vary to reflect changing demand. So it would higher at rush hour, less at other times etc.

          There would need to be some rule for regulators to follow. Such as the congestion charge is the lowest price that keeps traffic flowing at 80 or more km/hr.

          In this scenario road users are not paying a toll. They are a fee in exchange for a free flowing road.

          My preference is the congestion charge revene goes to the local authority (not to the consolidated fund or NLTF) and that they use it to either expand PT services or lower the cost of PT. With the broad aims being to minimise inequality effects and to aide the transition to more spatially efficient transport options being provided and used.

      2. Also of note is if electric buses are used the energy used to go uphill can in part be recaptured going back down.

  6. I still don’t understand why the government didn’t scrap this and the even more expensive Hamilton bypass and get rid of the NZTA managers, who’ve continued to hold up alternatives to RoNS, to the extent Treasury is now concerned there’ll be a gap in construction.

    1. Well, my guess is that they didn’t scrap it because they had already spent about half a billion dollars on it, and because no one has ever figured out a viable alternative to it. As stupidly expensive that TG is, the only real alternative is to do nothing – and people are a bit fed up with governments taking that attitude.

      However, they have declined to go ahead with the next phase of double-laning SH1 i.e. the Levin stretch. You should hear the politicians on the blue side whine and bitch about that… end of the world, apparently.

  7. Does anybody else think it is ironic that Wellingtons public transport is falling apart due to an inability to recruit bus drivers?
    The main problem being the sky rocketing cost of living in the city because rents are out of control.
    The solution that no one wants to acknowledge being to build purpose built bus suburbs.

  8. Does anybody think it is ironic that Wellington has more government than anywhere else in NZ but it is rudderless in response to a housing crisis that is now worse than Aucklands and a transport system that is about to deliver them Carmageddon?

  9. I attended the resource consent hearings for T Gully. Submitters presented evidence that construction would lead to increased polluting sediment runoff. And here we are …

  10. If it isn’t going to be tolled then what is the point of doing it as a PPP when there isn’t toll revenue to worry about and when government can borrow and operate it much more cheaply with government interest rates

    1. I think the idea is that the Gov will pay the constructors something like $125million a year, for the next 25 years. Do the math. Its no wonder that the contractors are laughing, hand in hand with the banks.

    2. Advocates of PPPs argue the private sector finds efficiencies in construction and maintenance that the public sector would not.

      And that’s … somewhat debatable? Perhaps some of the “efficiencies” they’re finding are leading to increased sediment run-off, for example.

  11. Matt – while you quote the official NZTA mantra that “A vehicle travelling at the posted speed limit of 100km/hr between Linden and MacKays Crossing will take approximately 16 minutes on the Main Alignment, which is nearly 7 minutes (or approximately 30%) less than using the existing SH1, which is approximately 23 minutes” – it will be interesting to see what the actual savings are when it eventually opens in about a year’s time.

    I’m going to stake a claim that the inward trip will achieve no savings at all, as the traffic still needs to take the current exit route down Ngauranga Gorge – that’s the current pinch point, can’t be widened at Johnsonville, and so there is no reason why the overall trip will get any faster. What happened when they opened up the PekaPeka stretch was that everyone started leaving later for work, and then just got caught up with all the other traffic where it narrowed back down again (at Paekakariki). This way they won’t get caught up at Paekak, or Pukerua, but will merrily stream up and down over the new Gully route, only to get caught in the mother of all traffic jams at the junction of Linden and Porirua.

    On the other hand, the trip OUT of the city is likely to be significantly faster than the 7 minutes they quote. As it will reduce all the one-lane restrictions to zero, then the traditional late afternoon Mana / Pukerua crunch points will be removed – so the trip home will be miles better. I’m picking at least an hour better on holiday weekends, and a regular half hour increase in speed for the normal commuter home. Time will tell.

    1. The big problem is if TG changes land use patterns. If it leads to much more auto-centric low density suburbs being built further up the Kapiti coast.
      Then it will permanently lock in poor energy use, congestion, high CO2 emissions…
      That’s why congestion charging and more intensive land use solutions need to be provided.
      Especially land use options that provide fairer housing.
      The head in the sand approach is bad for everyone.

    2. All the travel savings reference Linden and MacKays Crossing but there will be substantial time savings on the Haywards (Hutt Valley) MacKays Crossing trip. I estimate it between 20 and 30 minutes.
      This route will also draw most of the Hutt Valley heavy traffic away from SH1/2.

  12. From the graph above it looks like TG will have annual post construction costs of 125 million. Anticipated tolls are 3.5 million (which won’t be in effect) and with petrol taxes per trip being broadly similar to tolls we can put an upper limit of financial return of about 10 million per year. That’s a ‘farebox’ recovery rate of 8% or less than a sixth of what Auckland PT is expected to get, what a disgrace.

    1. Yip. NZTA, Treasury etc. Should be incredibly red faced.

      Someone should write this up as a post because the shame of this boondoggle is not appreciated widely enough.

    2. At a toll of say $10 – $15 a day at 20,000 vehicles a work day would give a 50% recovery rate. How does this compare with PT fares? Who is subsidising who?

      1. Ticket price from Paekakariki is about $8 i think, each way. Maybe $9.
        About the same cost as the petrol for a car. So: cost advantageous for people to take the car but only if they carpool and have more than one person in the wagon!

    3. Astounding calculation. It really does highlight the fact that, even if petrol taxes pay for most of the costs to provide the entire road network, individual road extensions are often money-losing propositions.

      Economics teaches you to think on the margins, rather than looking at averages, if you want to understand what will happen if you do something. Unfortunately, a lot of commentators seemed to miss that lesson.

      I’m also astounded at the size of the payments. Given the way the contract was structured, there should have been almost no risk to the financier. At a quick glance the annual payments seem to imply a quite high interest rate, which is inconsistent with the low risk of the project.

      Basically, there were a series of market signals here that people chose to disregard.

  13. Ironically the reason for not tolling the road that I kept hearing on the news etc yesterday was for the safety aspect which has been given a bigger priority since the new coalition government. I can see both sides of the argument here but I see the point that their evidence for time savings was used for justifying the business case. Perhaps now safety “cost” can now be used as the justification.

  14. why aren’t decisions on tolling of new highways made during the business case and before construction starts?

    Maybe I’m missing something but it seems ridiculous to me that we would do a business case and get out the diggers before determining whether the resulting highway would be tolled.

    And it’s not just about economic efficiency, but rather political economy: Once you start construction, you have little political leverage to argue why tolling is needed.

  15. This was daylight robbery and clear environmental exploitation, an ideological and informed attack on the economic, environmental and public health of future generations.

    We probably need a targeted tax on PPP roading alliances, calculated to recover all that extra money we’re wasting. That’ll put anyone off offering new PPP’s. 🙂

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