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New Waikato and Bay of Plenty motorways confirmed

The NZ Herald reports:

This afternoon Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is expected to announce funding for two transformational roading projects. A $4 billion four lane motorway between Cambridge and Taupo, extending the Waikato Expressway a further 100 kilometres to the south and an $8 billion 50km motorway from Cambridge to Tauranga which includes a 14km road tunnel. Both projects were hinted at in the 2012 Government Policy Statement for Land Transport Funding. He will announce the projects at a ceremony to celebrate the extension of rail electrification into Britomart station. 

“These are critical projects for improving freight efficiency in the North Island,” says Mr Brownlee in a leaked copy of his speech. “While we realise a near $12 billion investment in two roads that each carries fewer vehicles than the Kopu Bridge did when it was still one lane may appear to some as slight overkill, we think that those opposing the project just oppose progress and want us to return to dirt tracks and horse carts.”

NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Harry Wilson said his office was in celebration mode over the Minister’s announcements. “Once the Waikato Expressway project is finished in a few years’ time, we really didn’t know what we’d do with ourselves as we’ve lived and breathed that project for the past decade or more. We’re so pleased to see the government commit to the future of the Southern Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions – even though combined they’re not really growing – which will keep us in work for many years to come!”

Mr Wilson also noted that his organisation had been instrumental in pushing for the inclusion of the two projects in the 2012 Government Policy Statement and were “enthused” the project had been given funding approval. “We’ve learned a lot from our Wellington office in the past few years about the tactics of getting unnecessary projects in parts of New Zealand that aren’t growing over the line. We’re just so proud to have come up with the two biggest and most expensive projects ever imagined in New Zealand and now have funding approval for it!” Mr Wilson added.

Minister Brownlee noted in his speech that “Much like other Roads of National Significance, the Cambridge to Taupo and Tauranga motorways will duplicate an existing route where upgrades to that road could achieve most of the benefits for a fraction of the cost, but frankly upgrading what we’ve got is just boring – I want more motorways!”

Traffic counts between Tokoroa and Taupo on State Highway 1 show a slight increase in daily vehicle volumes from 6500 in 2009 to 6700 in 2013. Mr Wilson noted that “our traffic modelling suggests traffic volumes will increase to 60,000 cars a day in the next 5 years – almost all of which will be trucks!”

On State Highway 29 over the Kaimai Ranges traffic had also slightly increased, growing from 9200 vehicles per day in 2009 to 9300 in 2013. In the next five years this route is expected to increase to over 80,000 vehicles per day. The high number of trucks is said to be a key part of the decision to construct a tunnel under the Kaimai Ranges which was first investigated by the NZTA in 2010.

Local politicians unanimously supported the project when spoken to.

South Waikato District’s mayor Neil Sinclair said the projects would boost the economic productivity of his region significantly and wasn’t worried about the impact of the new motorway bypassing Tokoroa. “Look at Pokeno, it recovered a mere 15 years after being bypassed by the Waikato Expressway,” stated Mr Sinclair.

Taupo District Council’s mayor David Trewavas also stated his strong support for the project. “We’re about an hour and a half south of the thriving metropolis of Hamilton. This motorway will cut that time by at least a minute or two, which will be transformational to our economy. A local resident walking past added that they “didn’t care what was built, as long as it meant the money couldn’t be spent in Auckland.”

New Zealand Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said the two roads were great news and would allow trucks to even compete better with Kiwirail, especially on the Tauranga to Auckland route. “Everyone knows that the wider population and other road users subsidising trucking is a great investment and these two projects will be great for that” he said.

Details of the project’s exact route, the timing of construction and how it will be funded have yet to be determined but when questioned, Mr Brownlee said he was optimistic the money could be found for such important additions to state highway infrastructure in the Upper North Island. “Hey we could always push that silly rail loop under Auckland’s city centre back a few more years,” Mr Brownlee shouted at reporters while leaving the airport for Britomart station in a Crown limousine.

A business case for the motorway projects is expected to be presented to Cabinet for funding approval next Monday.

Cambridge to Taupo and Tauranga motorways

53 comments to New Waikato and Bay of Plenty motorways confirmed

  • Arnaud deutsch

    Great one! At last Gerry Brownlee speaks his mind!!

  • bbc

    LOL not too far from the truth sadly

  • Matthew

    “While we realise a near $12 billion investment in two roads that each carries fewer vehicles than the Kopu Bridge did when it was still one lane may appear to some as slight overkill, we think that those opposing the project just oppose progress and want us to return to dirt tracks and horse carts.”

    Is that really the measure of the man? A complete bullshit either/or argument?

    Brownlee resign.

  • Morgan

    All hail the amazing power of Motorways. I think that $12 billion in investment will be great! All hail Gerry Brownlee and his insight over the great powers of motorways!

  • Fred

    Too close to the truth Matt! Crazy that these are identified RoNS.

  • Ari

    What vision! What Foresight! What wisdom! Truly the Great GB and his ever optimistic traffic growth models are just what this country needs!

  • Of course as a RoNS it wouldn’t need a business case, or a positive cost benefit, or anything other than ministerial whim… But the cupboard is bare.

  • Greg N

    Classic – had me going for 30 seconds.

  • Nathan

    The best are always the most realistic.

  • Christopher

    Heh, had me there! But on reflection, so plausible as to be true, sadly.

  • This is exactly the sort of article that would be written. The shallow, uninformed sound bites from the Mayors ring true, as does the lack of business case. Too much like Puhoi to Warkworth!

  • Loraxus

    But what about a four-lane motorway stub to Rotorua? It’s obviously missing from that map. Our tourism economy depends on visitors getting first-class roads to all unspoiled nature.

  • Glen

    It must be frustrating to have to wait up to 364 days to post quality like this… thanks as always Matt :)

  • donna

    You nearly had it nailed but for “the thriving metropolis of Hamilton”. Even people from the Tron don’t believe that.
    Have a lovely day, all.

  • James

    You certainly got me ;)

  • gazzamac

    “increase to 60,000 cars a day in the next 5 years – almost all of which will be trucks” this statement doesn’t make any sense at all…

  • Chris Randal

    Many a true word spoken in jest.

  • Bryan

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, the PM is officially turning on the 25kv at Britomart today (according to Kiwirails “Express” magazine).

  • BD

    This guy has lost the [edited] plot. I wish I could say that I can’t believe what I’m hearing. But this government has lost the plot how on earth are we going to pay for a motorway between Cambriddge and Taupo that wasn’t even previously mentioned before. I really hope they loose the election over this this just does my head in.

    • bbc

      It has been actually mentioned previously, Joyce IIRC talked about it being amongst the next tranche of motorways that would be accelerated under the RoNS programme.

  • BD

    lol, I just realised it is 1st April today, but the sad thing is this article is very believable because National are very capable of doing this!.

  • nonsense

    you got me big time

  • JimboJones

    Oh man at first I got all excited when I saw the motorway to Taupo!! Give it a 120km speed limit and you could get there in no time!
    On a serious note I don’t have any issues with the govt spending money upgrading the likes of highway 1 because I can’t see us ever having a decent option between cities other than cars and buses – but within Auckland there is so much more bang for buck to be had with PT that spending money on roads seems stupid.

    • bbc

      There’s no other options because nothing else is provided for. If 12$ billion was spent on rail between Taupo and Hamilton we’d suddenly have a pretty fantastic option. You get what you build, and when all that’s built are roads and motorways then of courses cars are the only option.

      • Loraxus

        But roads are for buses too, so, more roads = good for public transport. #makessomesenseonthefaceofitdontlookunderthehood

      • JimboJones

        Realistically to get decent rail between Auckland and Wellington (it would need to be a lot quicker than driving to get people out of cars) would cost too much. And that would only really cover Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.
        I can’t see inter city rail (except maybe Hamilton to Auckland) ever being viable in NZ unless petrol prices increase significantly and electric cars don’t eventuate

        • Dave B (Wellington)

          The Wellington – Masterton service stands out as an interesting example of a medium-distance passenger rail service which not only survives but thrives, and breaks all the rules so often trotted out as to why such a service wouldn’t succeed. It doesn’t serve a vast population. It doesn’t cater to rich tourists. It doesn’t pass through world-class scenery. But it fulfils a need and people want it and rely on it. Sure it is subsidised, but people are comfortable with that. One of the reasons it works well is that it is not just limited to a single, “take-it-or-leave-it” service per day (like the Capital Connection or the failed Helensville service), but instead it offers a reasonable flexibility of choice to users.

          Why can this winning formula not be rolled out to other areas of New Zealand? Or indeed other countries? I am surprised there aren’t transport planners from across the world beating a path to Masterton to learn “how it is done”. THE WAIRARAPA TRAIN LINE!!! – Passenger Rail’s best kept secret, defying all the odds and all the sceptics. Where are the international fact-finding studies? Where are the high-level deputations? Where are the learned papers and journals?

          Why don’t our politicians, hungry as they are for overseas-trade, recognise that they could be onto a winner with this? Instead of selling power companies, offer to a wide open global market our own valuable intellectual property. Kiwi know-how and expertise in making a passenger rail service which by all accounts should be a no-hoper, into a raging success!

          So whenever you are inclined to put-down passenger trains in NZ, or dismiss the concept of intercity rail, or say “It can’t be done”, just remember. . . . THE WAIRARAPA EFFECT!

          Proudly made in New Zealand.

          • bbc

            Roads are massively subsidised, PT should be too, the refusal to fund any innercity transport aside from motorways is why NZ lacks any other alternatives.

          • Mike

            The “Wairarapa effect” is because the train has a significantly faster and shorter route than the road (thanks to the Rimutaka tunnel), and is all within one travel-to-work area.

            Replicate those conditions, and the train’s got it made – until the Rimutaka RoNS comes along…

  • Bex C

    Brilliant! But yes, too close to the truth…

  • grantb

    Took me to about half way through the post to click to the April Fools thing.

    That is truly sad – satire is always best when it is just close enough to be believable.

  • Transport Refugee

    Meanwhile in Scotland, the Guardian is reporting the Nationalists have big plans for roading if Scotland becomes independent . http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/01/scotland-driving-on-right-independence-road-scheme

  • BD

    This was a bloody good April fools joke that actually made me believe it. But from the Nationals point of view, probably the truth.

  • Kent Lundberg

    Gold: “This motorway will cut that time by at least a minute or two, which will be transformational to our economy.”

  • Bob

    Where’s the money for the Warkworth to Omaha motorway extension???

  • Shame the new route to Tauranga doe snot include a Tunnel through the Kaimai’s as this would be a great safety improvement on the Tauranga route. There are too many trucks and cars that travel too fast and come off the road when travelling downhill on this route.

  • Peter H

    Hamilton bypass to be completed by 2019.
    http://hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/2014/09/ruakura-staging-without-hamilton-bypass/
    “New Zealand government has made commitments to complete the works by 2019 however funding for the construction has not yet been approved and in earlier evidence, Mr S, suggested that 2019 might be an ambitious target”

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