Here’s our weekly collection of smaller pieces.
The discussion about how much money we spend on roads has been high on the agenda this week, particularly in the wake of the government’s announcement they’ll be investing $6.8 billion extra in transport over the coming years. But that’s not been the only topic of discussion and on Monday we had the Road Transport Forum absurdly blaming an imaginary lack of road funding on extreme weather washing out hillsides.
The group representing the road transport industry blames a lack of investment in roading for the degree of damage caused by storms.
Weather over the weekend caused mayhem in the South Island, cutting off road access and stranding hundreds of people after bridges washed out and hillsides slipped on to highways.
NZ Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett said vital supply lines were cut, including those needed to get food and supplies in to stricken areas, and produce out to markets and retailers.
He said investment in highways had decreased in the last couple of years, when it was needed to counter the effects of increasingly damaging storms.
“If you talk to road users – people who drive cars but also truck drivers, they say the maintenance standards are slipping, and actually, if you have well-designed, well-built roads what you find is that they don’t fail as much in extreme weather.”
As mentioned yesterday, we’re spending billions annually on new roads and also on maintaining the existing ones. Despite the rhetoric from some, the overall quantum of funding remains high. But I would be surprised if any of the sites that have experienced slips or flooding recently were on priority lists to do something about.
But if the RTF and politicians want something to blame for there being not enough funding for rods, then a prime candidate would be other roads. For example these two excerpts come from the NZTA’s August board minutes and show that over just two projects there has been hundreds of millions in budget blowouts.
I suspect these won’t have been the only projects this has happened to.
Henderson Valley Rd
- the under-grounding of power-lines
- over 20 new street trees
- new footpaths
- pedestrian crossings
- protected cycle paths
It would be great if more streets looked like this.
Consultation closes 20 December.
Supporting Growth, the alliance planning the transport infrastructure out on the fringes, have released another consultation for Drury. This time they are consulting on the draft preferred option, which follows the indicative network that was released
One good thing I noticed is the station sausages have gotten smaller and unlike earlier consultations, look to be in about the right places.
The October number for building consents came out recently and they continue to show strong growth with the 12-month rolling total increasing to 14,900, another all-time record. Assuming the current trend continues then once the November stats we should have crossed the 15,000 milestone. That’s a far cry from where things were a decade ago.
As you can see below, there has been a strong uptick in consents and importantly, now only 45% were for single houses, that’s a record in its own right with it being the lowest percentage we’ve seen since records began.
Sydney Light Rail
Eyes will be on Sydney this weekend with the first branch of their new light rail line opening to the public tomorrow. The line runs between Circular Quay and Randwick with another branch to Kingsford opening in March next year.
One of the key features of the route is a transit mall on George St which would be similar to what was planned for Queen St before the Superfund got involved.
The port will move – eventually
The government’s Cabinet discussed the report on moving the port and have declared that its current location is not viable in the long term. But there’s a long way to go before the port is moved and yesterday it was announced that more work will first be completed
“To maintain momentum on this work, Ministers have instructed the Ministry of Transport to undertake further work on funding and financing options, governance and commercial considerations, land use planning, legislative and regulatory considerations as well as some additional transport and logistics analysis.
“I expect this analysis to consider environmental effects, including on New Zealand’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, and consideration of Government infrastructure investments in roads and rail, for example, building a rail spur to Marsden Point.
“Ministers have also requested that officials work with the newly-established Infrastructure Commission to ensure we’re taking a holistic view of our logistics network and the major infrastructure needs of New Zealand.
The temporary bus stops are better
Lower Albert St is currently closed till 9-February while the road is rebuilt as part of the Downtown works. That has required the NX1 and western North Shore buses to move. For the NX1 they’ve moved the bus stops to Customs St with buses dropping off outside H&M while departing buses leave from outside the Dilworth building (between Fort Lane and Queen St).
As someone who transfers between the NX1 and trains on a daily basis I have to say that these temporary bus stops are far more convenient than the ones on Lower Albert St. So much so that I think AT should consider making them permanent – although they would also need additional bus priority to ensure they remained reliable.