Waterview decision shows funding priorities back to front

While the powerful road transport lobby will welcome today’s announcement of a $1.4 billion mixed surface and tunnel option for the Waterview motorway connection, Waterview School pupils, parents and other residents will be much less happy as many homes, parks and archaeological sites are under threat.

Building ever more motorways is a 1950s solution that doesn’t recognise modern problems like climate change and rising petrol prices, Green Party Auckland Transport Spokesman Keith Locke said.

“The Government has its funding priorities back to front.

“Transport Minister Steven Joyce can find $1.4 billion for the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to build 4.5 km of motorway but won’t even invest $600 million to buy enough electric rail cars to service the whole of the Auckland region.

“This is putting the cart before the horse. Completing the Western motorway route won’t even solve Auckland’s congestion problems. The NZTA recently admitted that once Waterview is completed it will generate so much additional traffic that it will be necessary to spend another $1 billion to upgrade the rest of SH16 between St Lukes and Westgate,” Mr Locke said.

“While the NZTA rushes to begin construction on the Western Connection by 2011, our suburban rail improvements are further delayed.

“By imposing a spending cap of $500 million on new electric rail cars, Mr Joyce is forcing Aucklanders to put up with old-fashioned diesel trains on some lines until 2018. And meanwhile, the Government is putting $2.2 billion – that’s

80 percent

of the National Land Transport Fund budget for Auckland for the next three years – into roads.

“The reality is we will never be able to solve congestion by building motorways – every time we build a motorway more people drive and we have to add on another two lanes, and then another two lanes five years after that.”

Motorways should not be the priority – instead we should be investing in modern, sustainable solutions like electric rail, busways, and cycleways, Mr Locke said.

“The Government’s transport policies are fiscally irresponsible. International experts are saying that oil prices will rise dramatically over the next 10 years yet the Government is doing nothing to protect New Zealanders from price shocks.”

* The International Energy Agency reports the days of cheap oil are over