The governments announcement in June that they would fast track a number of (primarily road) projects has now seen the first result. Today John Key turned the sod on a project to widen the northern motorway northbound between Upper Harbour Highway and Grevelle Rd as well as some other works in the area which are designed to “ease congestion”. Despite my concerns about some of the large scale projects that were announced in June this project is actually one I can support as it should be relatively effective for what is a fairly modest cost compared to many others on the list.
Here’s John Key turning the sod.
The project will cost $19.5 million which is pretty small compared to some of the other projects proposed, like a $400m to upgrade the Upper Harbour Interchange just so it can have motorway to motorway ramps. What’s more if this is successful it will hopefully relieve many of the traffic issues in the area which might delay or even remove the need for that expensive interchange work.
There are actually some quite useful parts in this project and what’s involved is shown below:
The extra northbound lane along with the changes to the Greville interchange should hopefully help improve the situation for buses until the Northern Busway can be properly extended to Albany.
After the photo op of John holding a shiny new spade, there were some brief speeches. Here are a couple of points I noted and found interesting.
John Key – Talked about transport investment in general and even referred to the current government approach to transport as “spending a truckload of money” which perhaps about the most accurate description of our current transport investment programme that I have heard. He also used his time to take a few pot shots at others, in particular pointing out the Puhoi to Wellsford RoNS saying that the Greens might not agree with it but the government do – so there.
George Wood was at the event representing the council. He spoke after John yet remarkably spoke for the entire time about how successful the busway was despite many predicting it to be a white elephant before it was built (he singled out Newstalk ZB’s Leighton Smith on this). He noted how the Constellation station was designed so that it could allow high occupancy vehicles on to the busway should buses not be successful but that it hasn’t been used and hopefully won’t ever be. He even mentioned about how the number of vehicles crossing the Harbour Bridge in the morning peak had declined thanks to more people catching buses. Lastly he pointed out how it was good to finally be getting integrated ticketing but that AT need to follow up quickly with integrated fares too. Nice work George.
Overall I think that this specific project is useful and is an example of the kinds of things we should be focusing on with our roading network. Spending relatively small sums to fix up the problem areas and get improvements rather than focusing on massive projects like so often happens.