In January last year, just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the government announced a $12 billion spend-up on infrastructure – known as the New Zealand Upgrade Programme. Over half of that, $6.8 billion, was earmarked for a series of major transport projects across the country. A list of these and when they were expected to be under construction is shown below:

While there are some really good projects in there such as the third main and electrification to Pukekohe, both of which are already underway, the bulk of the money is targeted to major roading projects that bizarrely contradict the very outcomes the Government supposedly wants from transport as outlined in the Government Policy Statement – emissions reductions, mode shift etc.

Over the past year and a bit, since these projects were first announced, a lot has happened. Not just the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the Government declared a climate emergency and the Climate Commission provided some pretty sharp advice on the importance of reducing transport emissions.

Meanwhile, it seems like the estimated costs for delivering these NZUP projects has increased a lot – meaning the Government now faces some tough decisions. An article on Stuff yesterday highlighted the issue:

In January last year, the Government announced the NZ Upgrade Programme, a $12 billion infrastructure package which included upgrades to schools, hospitals and infrastructure needed to combat climate change.

The centrepiece of the project was $6.8b lavished on transport projects of which $5.3b was to be spent on roads.

The $5.3b cost of those projects was taken from the best estimates of Waka Kotahi-NZTA at the time. After the projects were green lit, Waka Kotahi went back and did a more detailed costing of the roads, a practice known as baselining.

Documents released to Stuff under the Official Information Act show that this took almost a year. Each month, officials provided an update to the Transport Minister Phil Twyford and later Michael Wood.

Some of these briefings warned that the baselines were facing pressures that could push costs significantly higher than those forecast in January 2020. They also warn that there is no contingency fund built into the Upgrade funding for transport, meaning any overruns will force Wood to go back to the Finance Minister for more money.

Wood has finally received advice based on those baselines. When asked by Stuff about the cost pressures mentioned in the OIAs, Wood said that the baselines responded to cost escalation seen across the country post-Covid.

When the projects were first announced, my initial reaction was that the costs seemed incredibly high. For example, the $247 million to deliver a couple of train stations in Drury seemed outrageous, especially when the huge upgrade of Puhinui to a major bus/rail interchange is being built for much less than half that amount.

If costs have increased substantially from the seemingly generous numbers used when NZUP was first announced, it raises some major concerns around the competency of Waka Kotahi, in particular:

  1. In their ability to manage costs, a recurring theme in recent times.
  2. The process they undertook to recommend these projects in the first – was anything other than pulling their wish-list out of the drawer?

On the other hand though, a fresh look at the NZ Upgrade Programme may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, giving the government a chance to scale back the programme to something more in line with their own policy statement.

Accelerating the delivery of the most costly project – Mill Road – was a particularly bizarre decision and one in need of a rethink as it not only ran contrary to many key outcomes the Government is interested in, like mode shift and reducing emissions, but it also directly undermined the phased approach to delivering this corridor that had been outlined in the 2018 version of ATAP:

Wider planning for the south has emphasised for years the importance of achieving substantial public transport mode share – so that significant growth can be accommodated without seeing enormous car dependency and absolute gridlock. Significant investment in the rail system was included in NZUP – a third main, electrification to Pukekohe and new stations – only for Mill Road to completely undermine that strategy.

Bringing Mill Rd forward in such a way also created a headache for the Council as impacts their future urban land release strategy and mean they suddenly need to find about $600 million to build or upgrade a bunch of other local roads in the area, at a time when there is already budget issues.

Interestingly, the Stuff article highlights how the NZ Upgrade Programme’s unusual funding arrangements – with money coming directly from the Government rather than from normal transport budgets – means any cost blowouts are now competing against everything else the Government spends money on, like health and education.

The baselines are now with the Minister, who has difficult decisions to make: he could either rescope the projects, paring them back into cheaper versions of what was promised; he could knock on the Finance Minister’s door for more money; or he could drop some projects entirely.

Part of the problem Wood faces is the way the Upgrade Programme was financed. Nearly all road projects in New Zealand are paid for by Waka Kotahi using money collected mainly from fuel taxes and road user charges. The Upgrade programme went in over the top of this and funded roads using debt and taxation.

The problem for Wood is that any additional funding for the Upgrade projects will also have to come from debt and taxation. That means Wood will have to compete with other Ministers for the very limited pool of new capital spending, should his projects need extra funding.

Officials warned Wood that the “Crown funds set up under the term of the last Government have limited (or no contingency) available it is likely that Ministerial decisions will be required to resolve cost pressures and/or re-scope projects across the Crown portfolio”.

“Changes to the project or programme baselines require approval from the Ministers of Finance and Transport,” officials said.

The Government could decide to top-up the programme in the Budget. The current multi-year Capital allowance is $7.8b across the next four budgets – about $1.8b a year. But that money is hotly contested by all ministers, who might object to Transport taking money to top up their own projects.

With debt levels now way higher than they would have possibly been envisaged to be back when NZUP was first announced, and huge funding pressures elsewhere on the Government’s books arising from Covid-19, it would be incredibly surprising if the Government did ‘top up’ funding for projects in NZUP like Mill Road that actually undermine their very own transport strategy. The existing transport budget is already stretched too so there’s no capacity to top up the programme from fuel taxes and road user charges.

Hopefully what we will see coming out of this baselining process is a fresh look at NZUP, with the projects that actually align with the Government’s wider goals (like the Northern Pathway) proceeding and those which undermine their goals being stopped or significantly wound back.

Maybe we might even see a bit of reallocation away from these mega projects and towards many small-scale projects that could make a really big difference, but are currently unfunded.

Finally, one thing we can expect, the sprawl/highway industrial complex is going to get very loud about about this. We can likely expect regular articles about how not building some of these roads in the middle of nowhere is preventing housing and be a calamity for the construction industry, even though things are expected to be busier than ever.

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84 comments

  1. There are just so many conflicts with the government’s wish lists.

    They say they want mode shift but don’t want to spend any real money that would bring real change in doing so. When private vehicle users try our current public transport, it’s inconvenience, slowness, expense or lack of value for money and unreliability (bus, rail and ferry), just sends commuters back to their cars or in respect of business intercity, freight users to trucks. They don’t want to be in gridlock, they may well want to do the right thing climate wise, but the alternative is worse. Much worse.

    In Auckland and aside from the rather slow rail modernisation of the past 25 years that has been somewhat undone by a terrible lack of track investment, the public transport options are something comparable with mid to late 20th century offerings.

    The new transport minister is making noises that are vaguely encouraging but unfortunately he’s not offering anything new and equally concerning is that his government have a habit of making announcements, never delivering on them then doing nothing. But the announcement buys time and gets problems out of the headlines. Look busy, say you care, change nothing.

    How about this simple proposal. Money poured into highways around the Waikato instead poured into rail realignment and upgrades to allow far more direct far quicker line speed of ALL rail traffic between Pokeno and Te Rapa to rid the system of all the slow zones. Dare I say, electrify? Massive benefits. Will Michael Wood do it? I doubt he’s ever given it a thought.

    And I agree with your sentiments regarding cost blow outs. It seems NZTA are extremely poor at planning and managing projects, are seen by private contractors as a bottom pit of money and an organisation that can be played like a fiddle!

    1. “equally concerning is that his government have a habit of making announcements, never delivering on them then doing nothing” – and in the mean time the costs are going up exponentially.
      I think we will see some good action from Wood soon: although not sure why there hasn’t already been a massive walking and cycling spend up by govt, seems like an absolute no brainer for a supposedly environmentally aware government that has been in power for 4 years. Even John Key spent money on cycling!

  2. A lot of those highway projects outside the city are needed. Having gone to Whangarei in the weekend the current road is terribly slow and dangerous. 2.5 hours to cover 150km is pretty bad, there wasn’t really any congestion just crappy roads. A motorway with 110km/hr speed limit would make Whangarei less than 1.5 hours from Auckland, surely a massive boost to their economy and Northland in general. Realistically rail will never be a competitive option.
    However almost all road projects within Auckland city are a complete waste of money. Although I can see the point of Mill Road: let’s face it most of those new people living in Drury probably won’t be working in Auckland City and probably won’t have good PT options no matter how much we spend on it.

    1. I’d like to see the business case for those multi lane highways to whangarei. I heavily suspect they make zero financial sense, and to boost the economy of the area and the safety of the road, there are much better uses of government funds.

      1. The Puhoi to Warkworth multi-billion motorway VS improving the existing route’s safety example.

        That State Highway doesn’t need four-laning. It needs better passing bays, improvement of some curves, and more median and side crash barriers. That would do more for safety and resilience and the economy of NZ Inc than spending more and more money on trying to build AAA style mega-motorways everywhere.

        But it isn’t as sexy for the big govt announcements, or the juicy decade-long contracts. I mean, most of the jobs could be handled by mid-sized Kiwi civils contractors employing lots of locals. Why’d you want that when you can give it to an international PPP?

      2. Are you saying that proximity to Auckland isn’t a big factor to a smaller cities economy?
        In this case Whangarei is an hour further away than it could be; that has to be significant doesn’t it? And that goes for every town north of Whangarei too. Northland is a great place, it’s just so inaccessible mainly due to a small section of road between Auckland and Wellsford being utter crap.

        1. Nope, I’m not saying that, there undoubtedly would be positive benefits. In an extreme example, if the government piled cash and lit it on fire, there would be some people warmed by the flames.
          However that is factored into the business case (I believe?) and based on previous similar business cases, the difficulty of the terrain in this case, and the cost of these full motorway style upgrades. It wouldn’t be worth it, eg a less than 1 BCR. (Which incorporates all the positive benefits that the designers can get their hands on)
          Especially when compared to a program that did more reasonable upgrades like Damian mentioned above.
          A few curve easements for the worst ones. Way more center wire rope and edge barriers.
          Longer and more numerous passing lanes.
          Perhaps a diversion or two around some of the towns and worst bendy sections. It would be a vastly cheaper program, for similar benefits from a safety, and day to day perspective. Sure travel times would still be higher than a 4 lane motorway on long weekends. But that’s not a problem or use case that needs billions of dollars thrown at it.

        2. I also see I worded my original statement poorly.
          “I’d like to see the business case for those multi lane highways to whangarei. I heavily suspect they make zero financial sense, and to boost the economy of the area and the safety of the road, there are much better uses of government funds.“

          Should be :

          “ I’d like to see the business case for those multi lane highways to whangarei. I heavily suspect they make zero financial sense. If the goal was to boost the economy of the area and the safety of the road, there are much better uses of government funds.”

    2. “Realistically rail will never…”

      Sick of old thinking. Rail would be a far better use of money to connect Whangarei and Auckland.

    3. Rail is know to be cost effective and quicker when the direct and indirect financial benefits are factored in compared to roads, so I am not sure why rail will never be a competitive option?

      1. To Whangarei though? Unforgiving terrain for road, even more so for rail, coming off the back of very little demand and a non viable current route to compete with even the current road for passenger services.
        You’d have to realign large parts of the whole route.
        I’m not saying they should build the 4 lane motorways, cheaper safety improvements and spend the money elsewhere.

        1. Expensive, probably? But we need to take a long look at the North Auckland Line. Much is dependent on a line to NorthPort. This would invigourate the NAL. Some simple changes could help to speed things up. Continuing on from the Marsden area, a line could continue on the Waihi flats to the Waihi Gorge to rejoin the NAL at Mareretu. This eliminates 3 large hills and increases a single locomotive load from 630 to 2000 tonnes on that route. There would be a big increase in speed as well. A deviation around the Makerau Bank (and troublesome tunnel) would also allow greater speed and and higher tonnages. If the next harbour crossing was to be a sensible heavy rail crossing, then a line from Kaukapakapa could connect with a suburban line at Silverdale to continue the journey to Auckland. This would reduce the travel time from W’rei quite considerably. It still might not be as fast as the road, but it may be able to compete more with greener and comfort credentials. It also may prove to be an effective commuter route in time with a branch to Warkworth enabling commuting both north and south from there. Long term vision of course.

    4. Does this “massive boost to their economy” look like hundreds more people every day driving to Whangerei and beyond for tourism? If so, how does accord with a target to reduce emissions?
      Tourism cannot look like what it always has in the past with mass low value tourism and the government has already signaled this.

      1. For the pro-roads brigade the post-Covid mantra of “Build back better” seemingly just means you got to add more kms of motorways, with more lanes, and as many more “frilly bits” as you can, on to an already over-priced and over-engineered design – simply to make it “even better”.

        And its not just tourism that “cannot look what it always has in the past”.

        More bums on seats or enabling yet more VKT by ever more cars on new or existing roads is not the answer. It never was.

        1. I wouldn’t call myself pro-road by any means, it would be great if we had a really decent fast regional rail system. But I doubt it will ever happen for many reasons including: extreme cost, complexity, topography, low population, and most of all, we are already so invested in cars.
          I would hardly call the current road to Whangarei “already over-priced and over-engineered”: it is slow, windy, unsafe, goes through several small towns, and quite busy.

        2. “we are already so invested in cars” isn’t a good reason; it’s just resistance to change. Rail doesn’t have to be Japan-level fast to be decent. And carbon prices are rising. So is the average age of Northland’s population. We need safe roads, but investment now needs to make up for decades of winding down the rail network.

          We need to set our kids up for success and leaving them with wider roads and a rail system that is still not much good doesn’t do that.

    5. Given a bit of work and money I expect a passenger train could do the trip in 3 hours. Single line so stations should be cheaper to build. Bus from the last station on the Northern Busway to connect with the train at Walkworth could help. And then it could travel past Whangerei I suppose. Best wait and see if the Te Huia can work and if we can ever get regional passenger trains back into Britomart.

        1. Of course Wellsford.
          Back in the days of NZR there was a night bus to Whangerai to take the Herald to the North early morning mixed train futhur north. Plus railcar Auckland Okaihau. Different world.

        1. Its not a bad idea actually. Some Northern Busway services head express up to Wellsford and you connect with the North Auckland Line there.

          Hell, with the way we are sprawling the busway (and eventually, LRT/LM) might have to go all the way to Wellsford itself….

        2. So if you can have a Papakura Hamilton train then why not a Swanson Whangarei train which connects with an Auckland Wellsford express bus at Wellsford. So connect Kumeu and Helensville into the Auckland train network and provide a relatively direct Auckland Whangerai service via the busway to Wellsford then train to Whangerai or further north. Also it would provide an express service to Walworth and Wellsford. Anyway let’s wait and see how the Te Huia works out.

        3. I suppose you have the issue that – for Wellsford-Whangarei – its a service already adequately serviced by private buses, these originating from Auckland CBD/Whangarei (so a one-seat ride).

          I wonder how many would change at Wellsford just to take a train north if speed wasn’t that much different? The argument may be that Wellsford becomes a major junction, where you can continue on with PT down through the North Shore, or head out to the North West (when coming south). Likewise commuters could come from either of those directions when heading north.

          Regardless, there needs to be some major upgrading still, north of Wellsford.

        4. To be clear my reply was to the original JimboJones comment re upgrading the state highway from Whangarei to Auckland to a 110 km/hr motorway. (sorry knew should of referenced his name it was so further up)

        5. Ok Grant I did wonder if your comment was in response to mine.
          And KLK firstly demand management on those private bus services makes for costly fares if you suddenly decide you have to travel between Auckland and Whangerei. So at the moment people are forced to take their car for that last minute spontaneous journey. The other thing which I probably shouldn’t go to at this stage but I feel is a stumbling block for the trial of any new service is what type of rail vehicle. Locomotive hauled carriage trains particularly when the locomotives are 50 year old and powered by diesel is not really where we should be going. In the next few years we need to come up with a greener option for non electified passenger trains in this country. Both for replacing existing services like the Masterton trains and for the introduction of new services. It makes it easier to trial new services if we have a standardised green train set especially if passenger numbers take time to build. In the case of the Te Huia its not only the diesel locomotive but also the diesel generator providing power for the carriages roaring its head off in the SA set. The ability to operate in both directions without needing to be turned would be useful as well. We need to learn from what’s wrong with the Te Huia if we are ever going to progress green passenger railways in this country.

  3. Given that the Mill Rd project is only going the cause huge headaches for both Government and Auckland Council and will just lead to even more congestion and green house gases, I wonder if there isn’t an alternative approach that will give similar or better outcomes.
    My wondering lead to a “left field” idea.
    What if instead of spending all that money to basically make the situation worse, what would happen if Mill Rd was to be widened, but instead of increasing the number of traffic lanes, other than leaving space for future expansion, a Light Rail system is build down the centre and protected cycling lanes are added.
    Not only will this increase the capacity of the road, but it would be well within the Government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and would start a mode shift in transport.

    1. Why would Drury get x2 brand new rail stations and light rail? Just don’t turn Mill Road into a motorway, pretty simple…or don’t build mass sprawl out in the middle of farm land before you build empty areas in central areas.

    2. Agree. IMO any proposal to widen any arterial road in Auckland should be considered first and foremost as a PT scheme. In the case of Mill Road, perhaps part of an RTN line from Drury to Botany, connecting with the proposed Airport-Botany line. Or some such. Serious left-field creative thinking is required to meet the “climate emergency” or it is just an emergency in name only.

      1. Good comment. Better to go with buses much easier to service the industrial areas. Express buses Drury Mill road to service industrial workplaces in East Tamaki. Eight to four thirty is pretty standard hours across a lot of South Auckland business. Off peak and weekends just Manukau and Botany via the busway. The new bus network can cover other areas.

    3. Certainly many people in these new suburbs around Drury will work in the East Tamaki area. I wonder if there will be new industrial subdivisions around Drury as well.

  4. Good to know there will be shovel ready projects for the Australians building Transmission Gully to move on to.

    1. While I appreciate the sarcasm, I think it is often forgotten that the government gets a lot of investment spend back in the form of increased economic activity, employment and taxation. A $1 billion investment does not really cost the government anywhere near $1 billion, particularly if it is employing people that would otherwise be unemployed. Just get on with it and build something, anything, pretty much everything needs investment.

      1. Oh god… Are you a road contractor?

        Building roads for this reason is dumb. It’s just a road building industry myth, because we know that roading provides a poorer return in this way than all sorts of other investments. This is a feminist issue, too, which I know you’ll hate to hear.

        1. I didn’t mention the word roads; it could be hospitals or rail or schools. I would prefer to have less roads, particularly in the cities. I was just pointing out that a project doesn’t actually cost the government the headline figure when they get tax revenue off any profit made or salary paid.

      2. That was the view when roads were built with shovels and wheelbarrows. The whole economic spruiking argument is flawed regardless of whether it is an Americas Cup or a major construction contract. In most cases these ‘special’ projects just crowd out other more useful investment. You can always spot this BS because they always lists costs as if they are benefits or worse as if they are profits. “This wasteful project will create $28Gazillon of direct spending in our economy and $42 Gazillion when indirect spending is included” (ie we thought up a big number then multiplied it by 1.5 for no good reason.)

    2. Word from inside NZTA is that after disastrous work at Transmission Gully, Takanini and Tauranga, said Australian company will be unlikely to get any work here again.

      1. So what? They’ll rebrand, and all will be forgotten. This is what the “treat it like a business!” approach to govt brings.

  5. I have copied this from a 2019 GA story about the NZTA being an opaque organisation;
    “Early this year board members Fergus Gammie, Fran Wilde, Adrienne Young-Cooper, and Chris Ellis resigned.
    Only in Sept Phil Twyford announced a refreshed board Transport Minister Phil Twyford clears out nearly entire NZTA board”.
    Surely the board must be supporting Labour policy. Michael Wood may have to refresh again.

  6. I see that the council are now officially being sued over Queen Street. Isn’t the solution simple: “sure we will return it to it’s former ‘glory’ and never spend a cent on it again”. There are plenty of other streets in the city needing desperate attention, particularly Hobson and Nelson: why bother with Queen Street which was never really that bad and may be ripped up soon for light rail?

  7. Construction cost inflation was running high for the last decade prior to Covid-19 hitting. Partly because there’s been a lot of work to do (Christchurch earthquake recovery, Roads of National Significance program, Kaikoura earthquake recovery, City Rail Link etc).

    Covid-19 has disrupted supply chains and made importing some things (machinery in particular) more expensive. However it’s also pushed the price of crude oil down, and thus diesel and bitumen down (both major inputs in road construction).

    I don’t believe the story that Covid-19 has caused these projects to blow out in cost. I am more inclined to believe that these projects didn’t have sufficiently detailed scopes of works in the first place, so they didn’t have a good estimate for their cost at the time they were announced. This is because they were never “shovel ready” despite being sold as such.

    1. “they were never “shovel ready” despite being sold as such.”

      Hmm, perhaps this is in the same way that Transmission Gully was being sold by Joyce under National as fully “PPP ready” ? – when the papers now show that it never was. It may have been shovel ready (or as Shovel Ready as any NZTA project ever is) – but only “Ready” as a government funded and built project.

      I do see a clear & distinct pattern here with NZTA – simply lying through their teeth at every stage to get whatever boondoggles they and their minister want approved. Regardless of the true situation.

      Only conclusion that fits – former US president Trump and his enablers weren’t the creators of “Alternative Facts” as we all thought. National via their NZTA enablers clearly had at least half a decade lead on that front it seems.

      While we can vote out the like of National or Trump, we can’t ever vote out the NZTA and MoT staffers who spent (and it seems still spend) their days promulgating this BS.

      1. I don’t think NZTA is solely to blame. They didn’t come up with the idea of the NZ Upgrade Program. The politicians would have gone to NZTA and asked what projects they could get off the ground soonest, which of course would have been the ones that were furthest advanced in planning.

        A lot of blame also has to go on the media for just swallowing the whole concept of “shovel ready” and regurgitating it on an unsuspecting public without any critical analysis. To say something is “shovel ready” implies that construction is imminent but most of these roading projects were years away from starting.

        The reason it was obvious that these roading projects were years away from starting is that they hadn’t even started most of the processes that need to happen before tender time:
        – Detailed design
        – Consulting
        – Land acquisition
        – Resource consenting
        etc.

        This information is publicly available and could be easily gleaned from NZTA’s website. The roading projects weren’t “shovel ready” and the media would have found this if they’d done any digging themselves.

  8. While the Kiwirail website says “preparatory work on Papakura to Pukekohe electrification began late in 2020”, how much work is actually currently underway? How many masts have been installed? Has any of the signaling been upgraded? Has any of the new power line from the substation been built? Any work to get clearance under the motorway? I can’t find anything on the internet that talks about progress https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/what-we-do/projects/amp/papakura-to-pukekohe-electrification/
    The other way to make the annual budget work with increased costs is to delay/slow projects, including those already underway. Is that happening in this case?

  9. Absolutely laughable that this programme could find any roading project in Auckland ahead of acceleration of light rail down dominion road, the north west or A2B

    1. The problem is the light rail project moves at a glacial pace and politicos want big flash announcements with lots of renders and information about time savings (induced demand be damned) when they make these announcements, particularly if they’re being used to head off criticism that there isn’t a pipeline of infrastructure work ready to go because so many big projects are languishing – like light rail. So you get projects with no funding for consultation being announced as if the shovels are going in the ground next week. You can always just walk away from it six months down the track.

      It’s the chicken and egg argument but in reality, it’s irrelevant – a government with no ability to deliver anything other than prolonged business case studies is for all intents and purposes, a rooster – lots of crowing but the eggs are never going to happen.

  10. Can’t help but feel govt has cold feet on some of these projects, they would be challenged in court,on some,and rather than an embarrassing defeat,a strategic retreat now looks better.Another point ,any traffic “improvemets”on Auclkands outskirts,just pours more traffic into an urban area,that is saturated with traffic now

  11. Money to pay for works isn’t the biggest issue (certainly according Modern Monetary Theory anyway) but capacity to build seems highly constrained.

    We would probably be better off with less gold plated works (motorways, light rail) and more tactical rollouts that can actually be delivered and strongly support the climate emergency strategy (bus lanes, bikes lanes).

  12. The reason why National and Labour (to an extent) and especially public servants serve up new roads a list of shovel ready ‘Transport’ projects is to do with the way Government money has been spent for decades in NZ.
    For the longest time, we’ve taken a greater good approach to delivering public services, under the presumption that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. You can understand the logic: in the presence of finite resources – because we tragically undervalue and thus underfund most public spending in this country – decision-makers have, for generations, pushed nearly every dollar into things that the MAJORITY of New Zealanders need.
    The current perception continues to be that the majority of New Zealanders “NEED” roads so that is where the funding will go.
    Apply this argument to Health Spending or Education and you get exactly the same answer. That makes Minister Little’s proposed health reforms with a Maori Heath Authority so brave. Finally we have a Minister setting out to fund the minority. Lets hope the Transport Minister can be as bold and pull funding away from the Majority and fund services for the ‘current’ Minority. And maybe, just maybe the minority will grow.

    1. Defining “Maori” will be the biggest problem as the generations go by and intermarriage waters down all our ancestry. My daughter is a blonde haired, blue eyed Maori and it would be ludicrous for anyone to suggest that she’s disadvantaged, with her parents being in the top 5% of NZ stratified by income.

  13. So, in conclusion, the Ardern government is hopeless at delivering everything. Across the board, useless. Noted.

  14. The Melling Interchange is a curious one, because even though it’s a roading project, it’s been linked into the Hutt City Council’s project to provide resilience for flooding of the Hutt River.. and it’s been argued that the free-flowing traffic it enables may cut emissions, as vehicles won’t have to wait at lights (debatable, given that State Highway 2 will still have remaining lights-controlled intersections elsewhere)

  15. Why are they building roads, everybody know buses don’t drive on roads, pedestrians can’t walk on the footpaths built next to roads, and cyclists can’t use the cycleways built next to roads with the best example being the North-western cycleway that was built as part of a motorway and hasn’t been used by a single person to date. And let’s not forget roads preclude the ability for there to be more than one occupant in a vehicle and they certainly can’t include anything like a T2 or T3 lane on a road. The sooner we replace all roads with railways the better.

    1. I don’t know why people build up the pro PT / active modes “side” into this group that thinks cars have no place and that we should replace all roads with rail.
      You’re building up this straw man in your mind.
      To counter your points individually:
      “…everyone knows busses don’t drive on roads” it is almost pointless to run busses in traffic for large parts of a route. And I don’t believe you were talking about Busways and bus lanes. (if you were, then your comment has almost nothing to do with the post, it was talking about roads as in general traffic lanes)
      “..pedestrians and cyclists cant use infra built for them next to roads” None of these things need roads to be built to have them be built, its not like there’s a fundamental law of physics demanding roads be built if you want any other kind of infra improvements.
      “hasn’t been used by a single person to date” Because of the sarcasm of the rest of the comment, I cant tell if this is sarcastic (as in cyclists benefited from the road) or not sarcastic (it was a waste to build it). Either way its inaccurate. Cycleway didn’t need the road to be built for it to be built, and a lot of people use it.
      “…certainly cant include anything like a T2 or T3 lanes on a road.” Ahh, but most of these projects don’t include these, and adding them wouldn’t really improve the project.
      “The sooner we replace all roads with railways the better” Again total straw man argument, no-one said this or thinks this is a good idea. OP is however saying we shouldn’t be adding more roads (for general traffic), especially the ones proposed, and doubling down on our current infrastructure priorities is a bad idea.

      1. In case it wasn’t obvious, I was simply pocking fun at how people seem to assume every dollar spent on a project classed as a “road” does nothing for anything other than single occupant cars. Many “roads” projects do little to improve throughput of single occupant cars, other than make it safer, yet are meet with frenzied rage and utter distain with people using their imaginations to pretend they are new 6-lane motorways.

        It obviously wasn’t a serious argument.

        1. Fair enough. I guess tone doesn’t translate great in text.

          It is annoying how projects are oversimplified in the media and publics mind. I think this is a much more general problem. K-road is often attributed as purely a cycleway project in Facebook comments, but in reality its much more.

          I also think that Greater Auckland is one of the more reasonable places around. Don’t get me wrong there are a few people going further anti road than I would. But overall, especially the posts by OP’s are very reasonable IMO.
          https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2021/03/05/weekly-roundup-5-mar-20/
          eg saying the Dome Valley safety improvements that don’t increase capacity are good. And no commenters had anything bad to say about these improvements.

    2. Did you know that pedestrians, cyclists, and buses can use the pedestrian, cyclist, and bus facilities next in road reserves, even if the road isn’t built?

        1. It’s odd, I don’t remember Te Auaunga ever being called a road, or the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path. Are you sure that this thing you’re talking about actually happened?

        2. Well people are wildly upset about Mill Rd which generally adds zero extra general traffic lanes, but adds a Bus/transit lane and separate walking and cycling facilities.

          So yes it does seem to happen.

        3. Also can you point out the where the implication that the following two projects are “road’ projects?

          “Te Auaunga”
          “Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path”

          My imagination doesn’t seem to be as good as yours in that regard.

        4. “Did you know that pedestrians, cyclists, and buses can use the pedestrian, cyclist, and bus facilities next in road reserves, even if the road isn’t built?”
          “**Said project may get called a “road” project however, therefore its bad.**”

          Highlighted with asterisks for your convenience.

          Btw, about 50% of the Mill Road corridor is currently a bare paddock (including the bit shown in the last image of this blog post), the other half of it is single lane roads. Building 11km of road and widening another 10km to add more traffic lanes is a road project, no matter how much cycle lane lipstick you put on it. If it weren’t a road project it would be a two lane busway with a shared path.

        5. Oh I see your issue, if you look a little closer you may see the word “MAY” features in that sentence. Therefore the sentence expresses a POSSIBILITY and not an absolute.

          As for Mill Rd, yes there are currently some dangerous two-lane two-way roads out there and this project will enable the those vehicles to travel on a new much safer road that has one median separated general traffic lane in each direction with another lane each way that can be used for buses or T3 etc. It also has walking and cycling facilities, however it seems you don’t care about these seeing as you call them “lipstick” suggesting you think they don’t serve any actual purpose.

        6. I’m glad you agree that Mill Road will be a new four lane road in addition to the existing roads and that it is therefore a road project.

        7. Mill road is a very poor example to choose to help your case.
          Safety on these roads could be improved much cheaper with wire median barriers and side barriers and getting rid of right turns in most places. Making the extra lane a T3 lane along here is relatively pointless as there is a parallel electrified heavy rail line. Better Cycle access and feeder bus services would do more for PT in the area. And the cycleway could be done separately too, no need to lump it in with a motorway. This program of works would be vastly cheaper than the proposed motorway.
          It just wouldn’t be as “nice”, but I’m ok with that.

        8. I used Mill Rd as an example as it replaces a dangerous two-lane two-way road with one median divided lane each way, as mentioned above (therefore not really increasing capacity) and also adds walking and cycling facilities as well as other elements to encourage mode shift. Not too sure how Sailor Boy got the impression it wasn’t a road project, however his creative reading skills seem so impressive the alphabet could be novel on the American Civil War for him.

          Interesting that you think a T3 lane is pointless because there is a rail line 1-4km away. Do you think all the other Transit lanes that are with 1-4km of a railway are also pointless?

          What’s this motorway that the Mill Rd footpath and cycleways are being lumped in with? Pretty sure the plans show them next to Mill Rd as part of the Mill Rd project and not as part of a motorway project.?

        9. “Interesting that you think a T3 lane is pointless because there is a rail line 1-4km away. Do you think all the other Transit lanes that are with 1-4km of a railway are also pointless?”

          Oh I see your issue, if you look a little closer you may see the words “RELATIVELY” and “PARALLEL” feature in that sentence. Therefore implying that the parallel bus lane would provide relatively less value than if the equivalent money was spent elsewhere, not no value. And the word parallel specifically excludes many other bus lanes in the city, especially those running perpendicular to rail lines and therefore providing a different service. I should also have added in the extra caveat that its also a very long distance (~20km) of duplication which is a compounding factor.

          I’m also not entirely sure what you’re arguing here,
          a) that mill road is an example of a project that provides some PT and semi decent cycling infrastructure and therefore its not all about cars?
          b) the above, and its also an example of excessive negativity on this forum and that its a good project.

        10. Let me fix it up for you.

          Do you think all T3 lanes are relatively pointless when they are parallel to electrified heavy rail lines?

          Although I’m not too sure what you class is as parallel as Mill Rd isn’t directly parallel to the NIMT yet you seemed to take offence at me saying its within 1-4km.

          As above, my only point was to poke fun at people who get all upset about almost all road projects. So much so that if a footpath, cycleway, bus lane happens to also add a wire-rope barrier  to protect the existing general traffic lane the footpath, cycleway, bus lane suddenly become “lipstick”.

        11. I’ve just realised that ‘Comment’ is actually Richard, the blatant troll who was banned a few weeks ago.

  16. “I don’t know why people build up the pro PT / active modes “side” into this group that thinks cars have no place and that we should replace all roads with rail.”

    Its called privilege. And anything that might impact that adversely is seen as oppression.

    In actual fact, what’s proposed is compromise and its how we all move forward in life.

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