Radio NZ broke a story on Monday about the amount of money the NZTA had spend on consultants to look at the Roads of National Significance showing that all up just over $200m had been spent on consultants. Here is the story:
Some $216 million has been spent since 2009 on investigation and design work for five of the seven roads – Puhoi to Wellsford, Auckland’s western ring route, the Waikato expressway, Wellington’s northern corridor and Christchurch motorways.
Information obtained by Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act shows $200 million of this was paid to consultants.
Almost half, $92 million, was paid for work done on the northern corridor.
The Transport Agency says it is standard practice to use experienced and professional consulting firms to do planning, investigation and design work for large roading projects.
And I have kindly been provided with the OIA request, here is the key table from it showing the money spent.
Now I actually agree with the NZTA that it is pretty standard to use consultants for projects as these days as the alternative is for the agency to have to hire and retain these specialists even in times when they may not be needed. I also completely understand the need for the work to be done at some point but what I question is if it all needs to be investigated right at this point in time. Some parts of the RoNS, like the Warkworth to Wellsford section, are not even due to start construction for another 10-20 years and that is being optimistic. By the time we get around to building some parts of these things would have changed considerably including what the best practice for building roads actually is.
The issue of how much has been spent on consultants has also been picked by the transport spokespeople from both the Greens and Labour and both took opportunities to ask Gerry Brownlee in parliament yesterday about it. The most interesting one is from the Greens Julie Anne Genter:
A transcript is here
I know Gerry has said in the past that Parliament is a bit of theatre but if he really means what he said, especially about stopping the NZTA from doing reports on Urban Design/Walking and Cycling then it is pretty scary. Also Gerry claims that Otaki to Levin was not a RoNS however it is pretty clear on the NZTA’s RoNS page for Wellington that it is.
About the Wellington Northern Corridor
The Wellington Northern Corridor is being developed as a 110km four-lane expressway from Levin to Wellington Airport and is made up of the following projects (south to north):
And here is a map also showing it.
And here is the second question, this time from Phil Twyford
Transcript is here