Gareth Hughes

New Auckland motorway causes congestion

by Gareth Hughes

The Herald has carried another story today about how building a motorway has made congestion worse in Auckland, not better. Suprised?

The New Zealand Transport Agency has admitted that they seriously under-estimated how much traffic their upgrades of State Highway 16 (SH16) to form the Western Ring Route would create.

Motorists are now experiencing delays of up to 40 minutes where the new part of SH16 joins State Highway 1 in South Auckland. NZTA’s solution? They want to widen SH1 between Manukau and Papakura to accomodate the extra traffic. They also want to widen SH1 up on the North Shore near Greenhithe at a cost of $160 million to take extra traffic coming off SH16.

Because, obviously, since widening motorways hasn’t worked before, it’s bound to fix congestion this time!

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Transport Agency’s application to spend roughly $800 million to widen State Highway 16 between Te Atatu and St Lukes from 6 lanes to 9 lanes grinds on yet the Auckland Council’s plans to build the CBD rail loop are stymied by a $30 million/year shortfall in funds

I wonder when the government will learn that building motorways to solve congestion is like trying to fix obesity through loosening your belt? To fix congestion we need to take drivers off the road by giving them attractive, alternatives like safe walking and cycling and affordable, convenient buses and trains.

In the meantime, what is the most useful thing you think the government could do with that $800 million to help put New Zealand on the right path to a clean, green, prosperous and smart economy?