Transport plan (with an affordability proviso) is announced for the capital – but don’t look too hard for the details

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”

Yes, we could play the blame game, but look on the bright side – Transmission Gully expressway will soon be open for traffic

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”

Wood is proving adept at steering major initiatives through Cabinet – but winning public approval for them will be more challenging

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”