Pretty much every single time we hear the government talk about the Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance they say that its crucial to Northland’s economy, even standing up and saying so in parliament here are a few quotes from different exchanges:
Phil Twyford: Does it make economic sense to borrow to fund the Pūhoi to Wellsford “Holiday Highway”, which has a benefit-cost ratio that barely breaks even and costs $1.7 billion, when a $400 million upgrade would fix the congestion and safety problems?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Although I disagree with many of the assertions made in that question, I would say that I think that providing a stronger link to Northland, where there is so much poverty yet so much economic potential, is a good idea.
Phil Twyford: Has any assessment been done comparing the impact on Northland’s economy of spending $1.7 billion on a roading project that is not even in Northland with other options such as upgrading the North Auckland rail line, more quickly and cheaply improving safety on State Highway 1, actually upgrading roads in Northland, or a regional economic development package?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: It may surprise the member to note that people cannot get their goods out of Northland unless there are roads outside of Northland. It sort of makes sense that if you want to get from Northland down to some other part of New Zealand, you need a road to get there. Eighty percent of all freight in this country is carried on the road. That is why we are putting the money into the road transport programme and the roads of national significance. Tell us, which of the roads in the programme would Labour stop?
Phil Twyford: Will he confirm that the proposed spend of $33 million on the Pūhoi to Warkworth design and property purchase while downgrading Warkworth to Wellsford to being a possible road of national significance confirms that the project has nothing to do with improving Northland’s economy, and everything to do with making it faster to get to the Prime Minister’s holiday home in Ōmaha?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Well, firstly, I reject that last statement; I think it is outrageous that the member has been so stupid as to make it. Let me tell you this: the programme has always had the Pūhoi to Wellsford road being designed, the designations put on it, the properties acquired, etc., in the current land transport period. It will be built in the 2015-18 period, unless we get a Labour Government, which will can it.
Yesterday Campbell live revealed that the benefit cost ratio for the Mackays to Peka Peka part of the Kapiti Expressway to be only 0.2, well it seems that isn’t the only project to see its BCR fall. First this document which is undated but the NZTA tells me was sent to the ministers office on 16 August 2012.
But how much is it meant to cost again, this from a document that was sent to the minister dated 03 August 2012 which is still using figures from 2009.
But putting aside the benefits and costs, is the Puhoi to Wellsford route the best way to improve the Northland economy? Well if improving the Northland economy is the goal then even the NZTA don’t seem to believe that the road is the best way to achieve that. Also from the document dated 3 August they state that the best thing we could do is to improve access to Marsden Point and getting goods to other destinations clearly comes in second.
Wow, who would of thought that the best way to get transport to improve the economy of Northland is to actually spend money on infrastructure in Northland. Of course these aren’t the first issues we have raised, the 2008 study showed there was little benefit in upgrading the route while we also showed that based on Gerry’s answers to written questions you would have to travel at up to 250kph to achieve some of the time savings that the benefits above are based on.
As Mr Anderson said yesterday, its really time for an independent inquiry into the NZTA and transport priorities, there is just far to many issues cropping up.