Bradford’s Truth – Mt Albert, motorways and Melissa

My regular column in the New Zealand Truth:

The Government’s decision to go ahead with the Waterview motorway extension will certainly be doing nothing to help National’s chances in the Mt Albert by-election.

If it goes ahead, the Transport Agency’s preferred option will see 365 properties demolished and $1.4 billion squandered on a motorway slashing through the heart of a residential community.

Avondale Community Board chair Duncan McDonald is already talking direct action. ‘They won’t get a motorway,’ he is quoted as saying, ‘The people will lay down in front of bulldozers.”

Adding fuel to an already heated debate, National’s candidate Melissa Lee made her extraordinary statement to the effect that the new motorway may help stop criminals coming through from South Auckland to commit crimes in Mt Albert.

I have to say I’ve been around a while, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of motorways as a solution to crime. And of course this generalised reflection on the citizens of Manukau, of whom I’m currently one, is prejudiced and absurd in the extreme.

While Ms Lee did have the courtesy to later apologise for her outlandish remarks, I doubt that she is still the golden girl of the Right that she was a month or two ago. Just a wee while back all the talk around Parliament was of her being the only NZ MP to make the list of most beautiful legislators in the world.

In the tough world of politics beauty sure helps, but it’s not enough without a certain amount of common sense attached.

Meanwhile, back to motorway madness.

There is no doubt that investing $1.4b in improving Auckland’s transport would be a great thing for jobs, business and community wellbeing.

However, we Greens think the same amount of money would be far better spent on public transport projects like building a rail line from Avondale to Onehunga, something that can be done without demolishing houses; creating a rail link from Onehunga to the airport; and improving busways on crowded local arterial routes.

The one good thing about the motorway decision and Ms Melissa Lee’s unfortunate observations may well be that local voters will think twice before voting for a candidate and a party so committed to the Waterview project.

Green solutions like those being put forward by our Mt Albert candidate Russel Norman are the only sane hope for a better future on the Auckland transport front.

The price of oil will keep going up. The cost of driving around in individual motor vehicles will become increasingly prohibitive for many of us.

If we want to future proof our city in the face of climate change and recession the best thing we can do is reject the never ending building of motorways as a solution to anything – whether crime or congestion.

22 Comments Posted

  1. The railway route was designated but I got the proposed motorway routes with interchanges etc onto the planning maps.

    They were uplifted off the planning maps in 1972.

  2. Owen, as you (surely) know the Avondale-Southdown railway DESIGNATION has been in place since the 1940s. So designations are NOT an RMA thing.

    My boss has been a planner since the 1970s and lives pretty much right next to the Avondale-Southdown railway designation so I think he knows what he’d be talking about.

  3. Have you the documents prior to 1972?
    We did not use the term designation then. This is well before RMA days.

  4. Connectivity is the key to the modern economy.

    Just for starters modern citizens has an enormous choice of jobs within a half hour drive radius of their home. Similarly the modern employer has an enormous labour pool. This means we can change jobs more easily than someone who has to choose their employment from the small number served by foot or by public transport – unless you have an enormous concentration of jobs as in Manhattan island. But these are exceptional and are not competing very well with multi nodal cities any longer.
    You have to remember that modern households have more than one member (not as many as in times past) but they are likely to have jobs and destinations in quite different directions rather than sharing a single destination.
    Think about your own life. IF for example you are a married couple with say three children how many of you head off on the same compass bearing each trip and each day?

  5. There should have been be an Eastern Route.
    There was one in the network we designed in the sixties and I designated them
    But in the first oil shock of 72 the ARA decided cars were doomed and lifted them and actually encouraged the housing to move over them in Waterview. So the distress of those families is not my fault.
    I am somewhat cross.

  6. So it’s actually a ‘long-cut’..?
    We had better build an eastern route too, if both the other routes are blocked or congested and mai GPS tells me so.

  7. Jarbury
    Anybody if there GPS tells them the bridge viaduct etc route is congested or blocked by an accident and so the western route is quicker.

    Also any freight carrier wanting to deliver or drop off stuff on route.
    But such connectivity is not based on the assumption that people drive from one destination to another. The typical truck trip is about 30km so it is the series of links in the chain that count. It is not hard to imagine a truck leaving penrose to deliver to the airport then leaving the airport to deliver to Massey and the leaving Massey to deliver to Warkworth. Rail freight simply does not cater for this kind of movement.
    The Real Trains of the US are over two miles long and carry a single cargo from Chicago to Portland. They are impressive.

  8. Owen McShane said: The Waterview money is investing in a state highway which will improve the economic connectivity for the whole North of the North Island creating better economic linkage between Whangarei and Tauranga. This has huge benefits for the New Zealand economy.

    Strong assertions, Owen. How about you front with some evidence to back them up? Or, like Mr Eightyfour Percent Stephen Joyce, do you just expect people to believe you?

  9. Owen McShane Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 11:21 am

    > The rail systems are focused entirely on central Auckland which is irrelevant these regional connections. Commuter rail links do nothing for commercial transport.

    anything that reduces traffic congestion is helpful to commercial transport, whether it does it by increasing road capacity or reducing road traffic.

  10. Frog

    It makes a lot of difference, those in state houses have no say in the matter, they will simply have to go and live in another house provided by the tax payer.

  11. You are comparing apples with insects.

    The Waterview money is investing in a state highway which will improve the economic connectivity for the whole North of the North Island creating better economic linkage between Whangarei and Tauranga. This has huge benefits for the New Zealand economy. It will also reduce congestion on the State Highway one artery through central Auckland and over the bridge.
    The rail systems are focused entirely on central Auckland which is irrelevant these regional connections. Commuter rail links do nothing for commercial transport.
    The Thompson hill tunnels have made a major difference to the connectivity of Northland to Auckland. I know – I notice the difference and its much more than the “saved miles” would suggest.

  12. I’m sorry to see you focussing yet again on the appearance of female MPs. I expected better from a Green MP. Likewise the crime mistake… I’m sure she’s made other mistakes, no need to harp on and on about this one. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend that hundred words on something positive?

  13. $1.4 billion would buy the CBD rail loop. That would probably shave around 10 minutes off train trips to Britomart from the Western Line (which has at least 4 stations in the Mt Albert electorate). The CBD rail loop will also allow increased frequency of trains beyond the 1 every 10 minute cap that we’re going to reach in the next few years.

    The CBD rail loop would also provide a K Road station and a Midtown station, hugely improving rail access to upper parts of the CBD.

  14. What would 1.4b buy in the way of public transport? How would this affect Mt Albertians? How are you going to inform those concerned before, especially Mt Albert voters?

  15. The main area where additional houses (above those that would have gone anyway with the full tunnel) will need to go is near the corner of Blockhouse Bay Road and Great North Road. I know that barely any (if any at all) of those houses are owned by Housing New Zealand.

    On the southern side of Hendon Ave, where other houses will be taken, there is a mixture of state houses and privately owned ones, but I am pretty sure more of the houses required are privately owned than state.

    I think we miss the point by only focusing on the 365 houses that will actually go. In a way those people are the lucky ones – they get fair compensation and can restart their lives somewhere else. What about those next door who now have a motorway over their back fence instead of a park? They get no compensation at all but could lose around $100,000 in value on their house. How’s that fair?

  16. Sue? You called her ‘Sue’, Bro? Why so polite? You are usually insulting ‘Comrad Bradford’ through gritted teeth. Has your heart melted?

  17. What difference does it make BB? In all cases a family is uprooted from its community. In the case of State Houses, it just means that the state will have to buy or build more to replace them.

    I understand that a number have already been bought by the NZTA, but it’s not a lot.

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