The Ardern government has done it again, announcing a grandiose plan to reform Wellington’s transport system. The plan includes a long-overdue duplicate Mt Victoria tunnel, a rearrangement of the road around the Basin Reserve and a light rail operation from the city centre to the south coast, all in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project at an original cost of $6.4bn, now put at $7.4bn.
Fanciful? It is, if you are looking for a business case on (for example) the light rail project.
The announcement included this proviso:
“If the light rail option was too expensive it would explore using buses instead”
So why announce it?
Could it be a fanfare in the wake of the declaration earlier in the week that Labour MP Paul Eagle has thrown his hat in the ring to be Mayor of Wellington? Continue reading “Transport plan (with an affordability proviso) is announced for the capital – but don’t look too hard for the details”
One of New Zealand ’s great construction projects will soon be open for traffic. It is the Transmission Gully expressway over 27km north of Wellington from Porirua to connect with the expressway south of Paraparaumu through to Otaki.
Wellingtonians familiar with the Centennial Highway (the sole highway at present to the north out of the capital) that dates back to the days of Labour’s great roadbuilder, Bob Semple, have been frustrated with the delays stretching the construction period far beyond the original timeline.
Yet the blame game for the delays cannot disguise this project is an engineering marvel that will alleviate the traffic bottleneck that often chokes traffic moving to and from the capital.
The four-lane expressway will be a particular boon for the heavy traffic vehicles that have become an essential element in the supply chain. It cuts through what was extremely difficult terrain and those who have seen it from the air say it is a spectacular achievement for the roadbuilders. Continue reading “Yes, we could play the blame game, but look on the bright side – Transmission Gully expressway will soon be open for traffic”
Transport Minister Michael Wood is winning a reputation for his bold political initiatives. They include, for example, the announcement of a second Auckland harbour bridge crossing (but only for cyclists and walkers, costing an estimated $780m).
Then came a “feebate” scheme to hasten the transition to electric vehicles.
And earlier there had been a move to “review” the Light Rail project in Auckland, the commitment to which had proved a political disaster for Wood’s predecessor, Phil Twyford.
Wood may regard himself as the chosen one, enjoying the favours of his political seniors. Certainly he appears to have a gift for steering his initiatives through Cabinet.
But to what effect for the political fortunes of the government?
The harbour bridge for strollers and cyclists drew a spectacular response, coming as it did when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was pointing out the government was “strapped for cash” and could not meet the nurses’ demands for a higher wage rise than the 1.38% offered by their state employers. Continue reading “Wood is proving adept at steering major initiatives through Cabinet – but winning public approval for them will be more challenging”