Roading projects under new attack
Opposition MPs are launching fresh attacks on the Government's roads of national significance after a planned section of expressway between Otaki and Levin was scaled back.
The New Zealand Transport Agency announced last week that rather than spend $400 million on a new four-lane highway through the area, the existing road would be upgraded in stages.
The stretch from Otaki to just north of Levin is at the northern end of the proposed Kapiti expressway to Wellington.
Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford said it was good to see the National Party embracing more "cost-effective" roading options.
"Now let's hope National applies the same common sense and care with taxpayer money to the rest of the so-called roads of national significance."
The RoNS, as they are known, are a series of seven roading projects throughout the country, worth a total of $12 billion.
Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said it was good to see "a modicum of sanity" returning to the Government's transport policy. "Spending $13m a kilometre to build a four-lane expressway between Otaki and Levin, a route with declining traffic volumes, would have been an enormous waste of money."
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is accustomed to defending the RoNS projects. In Parliament this year, in response to a question from the Greens, he said: "I think the roads of national significance are going to have a massive effect on economic growth in New Zealand. And I think it is very hard to argue against history, where you would find not one country in the world that has abandoned roading projects and achieved economic success."
The decision on how to develop the road north of Otaki was made by the Transport Agency. The agency's Wellington state highways manager, Rod James, said the change of plans for the Otaki to Levin road was reached after looking into several options.
"Our investigations have shown us that in terms of future growth, the projected demands on State Highway 1 between Otaki and Levin are significantly different to SH1 south of Otaki.
"Traffic modelling has shown it doesn't suffer as much from the dramatic peak traffic spikes that plague drivers between Otaki and Wellington. Traffic flow is more evenly spread out throughout the day, which means there is less pressure on capacity."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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