Yesterday NZTA released a map of their projects and priorities in Auckland, as part of the National Land Transport Programme release of information. The whole map (in case NZTA remove or update it) is shown below: As Cam’s post yesterday noted, there’s something in the way Puhoi-Wellsford is shown that really stood out – showing the Warkworth to Wellsford section of the road as a “possible” Road of National Significance. This is compared to the Puhoi-Warkworth section which is (presumably) a “definite” RoNS.
Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Phil Twyford picked up on this issue in parliament today, and in a press release. Here’s the parliament exchange with Gerry Brownlee:
But just recently NZTA have come out to say that the map was wrong, and in fact Warkworth to Wellsford still is part of the RoNS – not just a ‘possible’ RoNS:
The NZ Transport Agency has confirmed that there is no change to the status of the Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance north of Auckland, and apologised for any confusion caused by an error in a pamphlet published yesterday as part of announcements for the 2012-15 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).
NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield says it is planned to upgrade the entire route, but the preferred alignment and timing of construction of the Warkworth to Wellsford section of the road of national significance is yet to be determined.
While all of the material released as part of the 2012-15 National Land Transport Programme give emphasis to the activities planned for the next 3 years, one pamphlet relating to Auckland contained an error with a map refering to the Warkworth to Wellsford section as a “possible” road of national significance.
The NZTA announced in April this year that it had determined the preferred route to build a new motorway between Puhoi and Warkworth.
“We said then, and repeat now, that the new route will form part of the whole Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance,” Mr Dangerfield says. “We also said that an indicative route for the Warkworth to Wellsford section was not being announced at that time, because we have not yet done the necessary work to determine where this section of the highway will go and do not expect to do so within the next 3 year period. That was what the dotted line was meant to convey,” says Mr Dangerfield.
There is no change to the status of the Puhoi to Wellsford RoNS.
The government and NZTA find themselves in a really difficult position when it comes to Warkworth to Wellsford. On the one hand, the project clearly doesn’t make economic sense – with a much more basic upgrade providing far better value for money than a whole new alignment. However, on the other hand cutting the project back to Warkworth would really undermine the way it’s being sold as a connection between Auckland and Northland. A project ending at Warkworth would really come across as being largely for the benefit of those travelling to the beaches east of there during the holiday periods.
Of course the sensible approach would be to just build the Warkworth bypass section and do some safety upgrades on the existing road to buy us a decade or two until we really need to build the whole thing (assuming we ever do). That should free up well over a billion dollars for spending on more useful projects. I’m pretty sure NZTA know this too.