Julie Anne Genter
A motorway to save “dying” Wellington?

Recently, to shrug off blame for the Wellington region’s contraction in employment per capita, the government has taken to blaming the city council’s opposition to roading.

As I have mentioned before, National has big plans to spend billions (perhaps as much as $5 billion, if we include the $2.4 billion interest on the private loan for Transmission Gully) on a grade separated four-lane highway from the airport to Otaki. It’s ridiculous to blame the Wellington City Council for holding this project up as the process is already moving as fast as it possibly could, thanks to the EPA rubber stamping process set up by National.

Steven Joyce, supposedly the economic development minister, has a particular obsession with the idea that duplicating or replacing an existing road link will have transformational economic benefits for Wellington.

This truly is, to use a term Joyce is fond of, voodoo economics.

Let’s consider why: how might building motorways create jobs?

There’s the direct impact of the people brought in to move earth, design and construct the roads. But by all accounts, building new highways is one of the worst job creators, at somewhere between $500,000 – $1,000,000 per job created. The reason for this is simple – building roads is capital intensive. Most of the money spent goes on land acquisition, big machines, and materials – not labour.

It would make a lot more sense to create jobs through home insulation, public transport services (which are much more labour intensive), even road maintenance creates more jobs per dollar spent.

But of course, the government couldn’t possibly be building the roads just to directly create jobs.  Oh no, Joyce has previously mocked the very idea of building anything just to create construction jobs… the government is building a “modern 21st century road” because it will enable productivity benefits.

My question is – what productivity gains can we get from building a duplicate highway? The research shows that expanding an existing highway system has diminishing marginal returns, because there is already access.

The current philosophy of economic evaluation of transport infrastructure assumes that by reducing travel time, we increase access for businesses and freight, and we save precious minutes on journeys.

It is questionable whether adding up minutes of tens of thousands of commuter journeys would actually translate into economic benefit. There was never any empirical evidence to support the theory. In fact, despite people travelling at higher speeds in private vehicles, the past few decades hasn’t seen an overall reduction in travel times – people are simply travelling further than before.

The changes in land use that result from people travelling further are generally not productivity gains, they are a transfer. It’s a zero sum. Land towards the centre becomes less intensively used, while people take the benefit of cheaper land at the outskirts. Overall infrastructure costs associate with this sprawl are more expensive, as are overall transport costs to the economy (households and business need to spend more money importing vehicles and fuel.) Induced development is not a productivity gain and it costs us more for a given amount of economic activity.

If we wanted to save people time so they could be more productive, buying them labour saving devices, like dishwashers, may be more effective than building new motorways. (NB, I am not advocating this policy!)

If anything, Joyce’s treatment will be worse than the disease. Projects like the Kapiti Expressway and the Basin Reserve flyover will actually make Wellington’s situation worse, in several ways. Firstly, it will destroy some of the urban and coastal amenity that makes Wellington an attractive place to live. Secondly, it will undermine the investment in commuter rail, walking and cycling, by making it relatively cheaper and easier to drive. Of course, the total result will be higher car dependence, which means more money being spent on imported vehicles and fuel, and less on goods and services provided by Wellington businesses.

The smartest way to support Wellington’s economy is to make investments that substantially reduce the overall costs of transport to the economy – this means making walking, cycling, and public transport the priority. This would probably result in greater time savings for road trips than a new highway funneling more cars into choke-points. Investing in rail freight and coastal shipping will also reduce fuel costs and vulnerability.

Real economic development requires taking steps to support our manufacturers, investing in training and education, and thinking outside the box. I’m happy to report a lot of truly creative and productive activity is already happening in Wellington, at places like Enspiral and the Sustainability Trust. It may not be on the government’s radar, but it gives me great hope that Wellington has a smart, green future.

Let’s just hope National’s motorway madness can be stopped before it does irreparable damage to the coolest little capital.

72 thoughts on “A motorway to save “dying” Wellington?

  1. Julie-Ann

    I will say this again.

    There is not another way in or out of Wellington in as little as 60 years time.

    The current route takes the current road within a few meters of mean high water. It even now can be closed by a major storm. The rails run directly next to the road and in places at no significantly greater elevation. The Sea Level is rising and is going to rise faster. More than a meter this century and more than 2 next. If we do NOT build a new route in and out of Wellington we are NOT going to have options.

    The only other routes in or out of town are a goat-track optimistically named State Highway 2 and a single-track rail tunnel.

    Wellington DOES need another route in and out of town and while 4 lanes is a bit “excessive”, it is not as bad as none. The Green Party’s opposition to building roads here betrays its other interests and predictions. The issue with Transmission Gully has nothing at all to do with the “economic” argument you present so well.

    I don’t care much for the infatuation National has when it sees road projects. Building 4 lanes through to the Airport is stupid… but Transmission Gully? THAT needs building. A NEW route in and out of the Capital provides a corridor along which housing and infrastructure AND rail can be built… and that is apt to prove immensely important to our children’s children when the sea and climate change claim SH-1, the city of Porirua and a good chunk of Paraparaumu.

    A real vision for the future needs to include some of these necessary “adaptations”.

    The argument from “sprawl” ignores another issue in Wellington. Not all land near the city is buildable. Most of it is on prohibitive vertical grades. The city “expands” in fits and starts on every little stretch of flat that turns up, between the center and Paraparaumu and the Upper Hutt.

    The Kapiti expressway is stupid. The Basin flyover is stupid… but Transmission Gully is actually required. Not by economics, but by climate change. I have no idea if they’ll build a dike to protect Te Papa, but Wellington will still be a damned good port after Auckland has been turned into another strait.

    BJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5 (+4)

  2. http://www.letscarpool.govt.nz/
    http://www.jayride.co.nz
    http://www.avego.com

    Need study as to why household size is decreasing. Have people eaten their dinner in front of TV rather than excercised their ability to entertain one another at the dinner table &c? Until we can all talk again it may be a need in pooling cars not be frightened off if we are not good at animatedly conversing or keeping off serious politics and religion it used to be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  3. If you believe in AGW, and therefore sea level rise, then you’d surely support Transmission Gully. The existing route is already “underwater” in two places.

    The smartest way to support Wellington’s economy is to make investments that substantially reduce the overall costs of transport to the economy – this means making walking, cycling, and public transport the priority.

    Wellington is hilly and has bad weather. Cycling is only an option for the most determined.

    We already have a lot of public transport. If you stand in Wellington, at rush hour, you will be passed by bus after bus, most of which have less than ten people on them.

    We have plenty of footpaths.

    What we don’t have is a road. We have a paved goat track that is unsuitable for a city this size. Cars and trucks aren’t going away, Julie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5 (+3)

  4. 8 people in a bus may mean 8 less car parks taken up. And 8 cars takes a lot more road space than a bus. More fuel burnt, too, which though may be good for fuel corporates is not good for what many people believe. Promote use of ride-sharing or service greater Wellington with evening public transport and see if that reduces need for so many cars on road. Sorry to the road construction companies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  5. The smartest way to support Wellington’s economy is to make investments that substantially reduce the overall costs of transport to the economy – this means making walking, cycling, and public transport the priority.

    This shows immaturity beyond comprehension and a narrowness of focus lacking any strategic understanding of the issues.

    What is being upgraded and made more secure for future generations is STATE HIGHWAY 1 and the NEW ZEALAND MAIN TRUNK RAIL LINE.

    This goes way beyond the needs of Wellington, it is Nationwide importance that the links that are used for transportation of people, goods and services nationally are maintained and improved.

    Does no one in the Greens take into consideration the macro implications of decisions?

    I would not be surprised to see the Greens come out against lengthening the Wellington Airport runway.

    After all that brings in bigger planes and more people. Without the infrastructure to shift them from Rongapai (?) to the CBD.

    Oh wait, they could just hop on bicycles or walk. That will work.

    Epic fail this by the Greens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4 (+6)

  6. 8 people in a bus may mean 8 less car parks taken up

    The point is we don’t need more public transport. Scale it naturally with population, of course, but we’re already flooded with capacity.

    What we don’t have is ONE highway in.

    We have a goat track. And a back-up goat track.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4 (+1)

  7. Anyone proposing cycling as a “solution” in Wellington clearly doesn’t live here.

    Cycle for a few months, during the howling southerlies, prevailing northerlies, and vertical rain, from Wellington to Johnsonville, or Brooklyn, or anywhere else at the top of a hill – which is just about everywhere in Wellington – and tell us how many people will regularly cycle.

    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6 (+1)

  8. BJ, you may be right that in the future another solution will be needed besides the coastal route because of sea level rise. But will that solution be a vehicle based? And should it be the priority for spending billions on in the next ten years, when we have a serious and urgent need to invest in transport solutions that reduce our carbon emissions now?

    The Green Party is not opposed to roading. We just don’t think the priority for billions of capex spending in 2013 is new motorways — including Transmission Gully. The resilience of our transport system to high oil prices and climate change will not be helped by building last century’s solution, which was about moving cars and trucks with cheap oil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7 (+4)

  9. Arana, I have lived in Wellington and I still stay there regularly, and my primary means of getting around there is a bicycle. In fact, Wellington has the second highest percentage of people travelling by foot or bicycle in the country. And, as with much of New Zealand, it used to be much higher in the past, though the topography was the same.

    It’s not the solution for everyone. But if 10% of people shift from cars to walking and cycling, that’s enough to make a huge difference to peak congestion and reduce our road maintenance costs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 8 (+4)

  10. Let me guess, Julie. You stay in Thorndon? And you work in Thorndon.

    I imagine cycling was most popular when most people lived in the city, not in the suburbs. It’s not a solution for everyone. Or most people. Even if you got 10% shifting from cars, what do they do on the days when there are high winds and rain? That 10% capacity is still required for their non-cycling days, of which there will be many.

    I like Bob Jones’ idea of pedestrianisng the golden mile. Good for bikes, too. Send the traffic around the outside. They do this well in Italy and Holland.

    But we still need those major roads. And Transmission Gully is one of them. No matter what the motive power in the distant future (petrol, battery, hydrogen, whatever), we still need a *route*. We still need a route that isn’t prone to flooding and slippage. The current route is woefully inadequate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5 (+4)

  11. Echoing some of the sentiment here, I dislike the idea of Transmission Gully but understand its necessity – ideally there will be some foresight in its design that will include a commuter light rail / road-rail facility on the dual carriageway median.

    One things I am surprised at though is that not a lot of effort seems to have been applied to understanding the sea level and engineering issues associated with the McKays to Pekapeka stretch, a huge chuck of which is below sea level.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 (+6)

  12. Avego ridesharing could reduce need for roads. The roading contractors are hoping to get their monies before such technology comes into much use. We may be left in big debt for something not being used. We already have the technology for Avego: our cellphones. Just need this information highway to be helped a bit by such as letscarpool for much less money than the roads it denecessitates. The program is already written. Paid for by a small contribution from each rideshare. Could even be extended to travelling on public transport, biking or walking with friends where that is felt threatening alone, or for other reason. In the fifties cyclists used to wait at New Brighton bridge in the morning for enough to ride together and take turns at being at the front to outwit the head wind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 (+3)

  13. I wonder who disliked my Avego post. Avego may be a threat to infrastructure investors. I note: Arana: “Do you believe in sea level rise as a result of AGW, Julie?” Having lost the AGW argument Arana must now be trying to use AGW to get more spent on roads.

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  14. Having lost the AGW argument Arana must now be trying to use AGW to get more spent on roads.

    The only people losing the AGW, worldwide, are the alarmists as their models collapse. I’ve given up the AGW argument on here as it descends into a tiresome theological debate, and a game of “your pet scientist is the bigger pooh bum”. If you believe in it, good for you. I don’t. Good for me. Each to their own.

    Hence my point. What does Julie believe? As BJ correctly points out, you can’t believe in sea level rise and think the current SH1 north of Wellington is viable.

    So which is it?

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  15. Arana does not believe in AGW therefore presumably (s)he would mean they feel a coast road is not under threat. But (s)he is now saying to Julie if she believes in AGW she should be supporting building another road. I say to rebel against the notion that anything not paying to big business is a threat, and start using Avego. See how much you can save on petrol and maintenance costs and as it goes viral see how much quicker it is to travel because of many fewer cars on the road. Yes there have been fights overseas, trying to classify ride-offerers as taxi drivers. But the system offers no payment for time, only up to the amount that could be a tax expense for petrol depreciation and maintenance if you have a business. Then in 5 years recalculate what roading you need, if any.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  16. Do you believe in sea level rise as a result of AGW, Julie?

    Let’s take it as given that Julie accepts the scientific observations showing that sea level is rising, has done so since the Industrial Revolution, and that current sea level rise is anomalous within the context of the last 10,000 years.

    Readers interested in the peer-reviewed scientific background can refer to my Skeptical Science posts on this subject:

    1. Jerry Mitrovica: Current Sea Level Rise is Anomalous. We’ve Seen Nothing Like it for the Last 10,000 Years.

    2. Sea Level Isn’t Level: Ocean Siphoning, Levered Continents and the Holocene Sea Level Highstand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  17. Arana said: “I’ve given up the AGW argument on here…”

    Bless.

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  18. refer to my Skeptical Science posts on this subject

    Skeptical, my ars*

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  19. Rob – I scanned through your articles but not having a deep enough knowledge of the area, what does it actually mean in layman’s terms?

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  20. Avego

    So your answer to everything is to “take an amateur taxi”?

    Brilliant.

    Meanwhile, the current road is not still not fit for purpose. Nor is the rail track that runs right beside it. It is prone to flooding, and landslips, and earthquakes, and it can barely handle the existing traffic volume. That means trucks, buses, cars, and everything else.

    Stop pretending we can just choose not to use STATE HIGHWAY ONE, leading to the port to the South Island, and switch to bicycles, amateur taxis and, presumably, donkey carts to haul goods.

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  21. what does it actually mean in layman’s terms

    I believe it means “give up modern life and take up community basketweaving, unless you’re in the elite ruling class, in which case you can maintain your interest in long-haul flight”

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  22. Skeptical, my ars*

    Translation – “It doesn’t map to my preconceptions so tl;dr”.

    At least be honest.

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  23. At least be honest.

    Being honest would mean redefining the meaning of the word “skeptical”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  24. Why? One can be skeptical about method but agree to a position. Or vice versa.

    Skepticism is merely an intellectual approach; it regards that notions must be backed by facts as opposed to dogma, while accepting the limitations of knowledge as being non-absolute.

    You appear to think skepticism is as outcome as opposed to a method. You don’t agree for whatever reason (logical or fallacious), therefore you are a ‘skeptic’.

    Unfortunately, just saying “I don’t believe that” doesn’t make you a skeptic.

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  25. Unlike Skeptical Science, I remain skeptical of the science.

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  26. I believe it means “give up modern life and take up community basketweaving, unless you’re in the elite ruling class, in which case you can maintain your interest in long-haul flight”

    So I was correct – tl;dr.

    Unlike Skeptical Science, I remain skeptical of the science.

    No. I think you don’t like or understand the science. That’s a different thing altogether.

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  27. I don’t understand the science. Very few do. I understand bits of the science. Some pretend to understand a lot of it, but mostly I find they know little more than I do. They’ve read a few books, read a few articles from their pet scientists, and then chosen to believe one position or the other.

    They don’t like to admit it, though. They get very defensive, which is a dead giveaway.

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  28. They’ve read a few books, read a few articles from their pet scientists, and then chosen to believe one position or the other.

    They don’t like to admit it, though. They get very defensive, which is a dead giveaway.

    Fair enough. But aren’t you guilty of exactly the same? Again, this doesn’t make you a skeptic. It just makes you uninformed.

    It also gets to the nut of the issue – as you point out most people don’t have the time, inclination or ability to conduct analysis or original research on any given topic. This is why most people parse information from other sources; peer reviewed sources if they are really interested in accuracy.

    So given the vast amount of peer reviewed data and analysis out there supporting AGW and positing its effects, why do have a reluctance in acknowledging it? In other words, what empirical basis do you have for what you term ‘skepticism’?

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  29. Auckland T2 or T3 lanes where cars with more than one occupant may take a faster lane. What opinions? I have to presume Arana would not like them as they tend to reduce need for more roading. In US people use Avego to get more people in to their cars to use the lanes. Avego is not amateur taxi. And maybe people travelling home to Otaki in the evenings may like the help with finding a real time ride, besides letscarpool.

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  30. There is no point to reason with this brain dead , money grabbig National govt…
    They could never win the argument with the people with real intelligence.

    Have you noticed that nowadays they don’t even bother pretending to emphasize Knowledge Economy any more…they claim they will create minning jobs, casino jobs, road building jobs, etc. No wonder they don’t want to invest in Tertiary(?) educations…

    All those road building firstly will benefit Property developers (again), and Petrol companies (again), etc. with huge borrowing we all know who will benefit most from that…
    Do I need to say more?
    DTG!!!

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  31. The reason these motrway projects will boost the Wellington economy is because the cost is being covered by the rest of the country, predominantly the South Island, including half a billion from Christchurch City traffic. This is a repeat of how the foothills motorway was funded, including the diversion of Christchurch petrol taxes which have never been returned to Christchurch. Coming on top of Ruth Richardson’s 60% limit on the Crown’s contribution to disaster response this is going to turn Christchurch into Detroit, which seems to be National’s plan.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevynmiller/8733251471/in/photostream

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  32. So given the vast amount of peer reviewed data and analysis out there supporting AGW and positing its effects, why do have a reluctance in acknowledging it?

    I do.

    Are we contributing c02? Yes.
    Does more c02 lead to warming? Probably.
    Does man-made c02 lead to dangerous levels of warming? We don’t know.

    Keep asking questions. Don’t panic. Don’t jump to expensive “solutions” that might be worse than the “disease”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  33. Thanks Julie.

    Sea level rise is an important consideration, so I would put 20% of the money from Transmission Gully into a double rail tunnel from Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki.

    This would speed up the commuter service, and allow better handling of freight trains.
    Tunnels are not prone to slips and can be strengthened against earthquakes. Viola…. we have the second northern corridor with much greater potential capacity.

    Who remembers New Orleans with cyclone katrina? 10 lanes of traffic all grid locked for two days.
    The trains were only half full, but somebody forgot to tell anybody that they were available!!
    About time we spent something new on public transport…
    the new trains were only replacing clapped out 50 year old gear, not expanding the service significantly.

    It seems that none of the above commentators are cyclists. I am and have been a cyclist in Wellington for 40 years (ex Christchurch), and commute daily from Brooklyn to town and formerly up another hill to the Kelburn MetService. I find it more enjoyable than Christchurch, and the weather and hills dont bother me -
    they might when I am 80, but I plan on getting an electric assist by then.

    I have friends that commute from Eastbourne and the Hutt Valley to Greta Point (NIWA), by the dreaded SH2, which has no cycle lane, but 4 lanes of traffic. Interesting that Wellington cycling numbers have risen to about 4% over the last few years, but Hutt remains about 1% with only 400 or so using the highway shoulder to get to Wellington. Yet Hutt is flatter than Wellington! What do you think is the matter? Do we have a better Mayor than Hutt?

    A proper safe cycle/path way connecting the two major cities could potentially attract 5-10,000 commuters a day
    (comparing similar cycleways in the USA). It could be elevated to protect the railtrack and highway from sea level rise and the regular storm surges which occur four or so times a year. Car commuters should support this,
    as it could reduce the congestion significantly in rush hour.

    So, I would spend another 5% of the RONS wasteup on cycle ways on arterial routes.

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  34. One things certain, putting more motorways into Wellington won’t solve anything

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  35. So isn’t that cherry picking, given that most of the majority peer reviewed science connects the first two statements categorically and generally take a position on the third?

    I don’t think I’ve seen or heard of a single statement from a reputable source that says CO2 beyond 350ppm long term – let alone the milestone 400ppm – is a good thing.

    Do you have to have needed to crash the car before understanding that taking that last drink might not have been in your long term interest?

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  36. So, Arana, are you prepared to put your position to the following:
    The World Meterological Organisation, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the G8 Forum, the Science Institutes of most nations of the world, the world insurance industry, the U.S. military, the governments of all the world’s nations, the United Nations and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, countless scientists, increasing numbers in the business and commerce sectors, plus many other authorities – all who have arrived at a very different place than you. If you aren’t convinced now that the “disease” we are beginning to experience isn’t “dangerous” I doubt any new evidence will. You appear to know something that a great many well-informed people don’t – people who spend their lives studying a very complex subject and coming to a very different conclusion than you. So be it. You’ll believe what you believe. It’s not going to make much difference anyway.

    When I face my heart operation I’m not going to attempt to understand and test the research which has come to the conclusion that my heart is in trouble. I think I’ll be prepared to accept the advice of those who have made it their business to know. But you might approach it differently.

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  37. It’s curious people want to draw me back into this debate, even after I state I’ve finished with it. What does it matter?

    What “place” have those organisations “arrived at”, Philip? And since when has a “consensus” speculating on future events been deemed fact? It’s guesswork.

    My position is not unique. There are many scientists and organisations saying much the same thing.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/02/13/peer-reviewed-survey-finds-majority-of-scientists-skeptical-of-global-warming-crisis/

    “Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.”

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  38. You are correct that we need to have thorough discussion before any more geo-engineering which has been happening. Arana wrote: “Are we contributing c02? Yes.
    Does more c02 lead to warming? Probably.
    Does man-made c02 lead to dangerous levels of warming? We don’t know.

    Keep asking questions. Don’t panic. Don’t jump to expensive “solutions” that might be worse than the “disease”.”

    What evidence would you need to know that “man-made c02 lead to dangerous levels of warming?”

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  39. What part of “I’ve given up the AGW argument on here…” don’t you guys get?

    Let
    her
    go.
    Please.

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  40. I don’t get the argument that Transmission Gully is necessary due to sea level rise/climate change. The Transmission Gully route isn’t a new road into Wellington – it’s a new road that ends before Wellington, and before the chunk of SH1 that is most prone to sea level rise, land slides and flooding (Ngauranga gorge and the section along the Wellington harbour coastline). In the middle of the Transmission Gully route is a section around the Pauatahanui Harbour that will be very low lying, and at the north end, it rejoins SH1 at another low-lying point, just before the coastal peat swamp area between Mackays Crossing and Raumati. Whatever else it does, it doesn’t create a route higher than the present road.

    “McKays to Pekapeka stretch, a huge chuck of which is below sea level.”

    This is part of the proposed Kapiti Expressway, not Transmission Gully.

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  41. “That 10% capacity is still required for their non-cycling days, of which there will be many.”

    I spent years cycling to work from Newtown or Lyall Bay – don’t recall the weather being a problem on anything like 10% of days – maybe once or twice a year, if that. The prospect of a crowded bus full of dripping, grumpy people was enought to convince me to cycle regardless of the weather.

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  42. “ideally there will be some foresight in its design that will include a commuter light rail / road-rail facility on the dual carriageway median.”

    Not a chance – apart from the fact that there is no intention to do so, the grades are too steep, the valley at the north end too narrow, and the route by-passes most major residential areas in any case.

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  43. The prospect of a crowded bus full of dripping, grumpy people was enought to convince me to cycle regardless of the weather.

    Damn straight, Sam.

    That’s why I drove.

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  44. Arana – indeed, your position is not at all unique.

    But your Forbes reference is essentially meaningless. I’m sure 64% of accountants and dairy farmers also don’t believe global warming to be a serious issue, by I prefer to take my advice from peer reviewed experts in the field as opposed to opinion surveys in magazines.

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  45. Sam – yes I understand the Kapiti expressway is a different construction exercise. What I was getting that is if you adhere to the rising sea level logic, this piece will be far more tricky.

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  46. Rob – I scanned through your articles but not having a deep enough knowledge of the area, what does it actually mean in layman’s terms?

    Sea level rose quickly coming out of the last ice age as a result (mostly) of the disintegration of the giant ice sheets which had formed in the Northern Hemisphere. It slowed and then stopped once the natural warming stopped. Sea level was static for thousands of years until the Industrial Revolution got under way. Current global warming has initiated sea level rise at a rate unseen for 10,000 years.

    Understanding how the Earth’s surface deforms under loading by massive ice sheets, and the subsidence of ocean basins, explains why sea level in the equatorial ocean was higher many thousands of years ago than it is today, even though the ocean volume was unchanged.

    That’s assuming that you trust the expert opinion of the 97% of climate scientists whom agree that current global warming is caused by humans.

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  47. 97%

    The only thing hitting 97% is the propoganda-o-meter at “Skeptical” Science”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

    “The Doran paper has been criticised by many sceptics in the past, where a survey of 10,256 with 3146 respondents was whittled down to 75 out of 77 “expert” ’active climate researchers’ (ACR) to give the 97% figure, based on just two very simplistic (shallow) questions that even the majority of sceptics might agree with. Lawrence Soloman made one of many critiques of the Doran Paper here and offers a very good summary, some other reviews here, here and here”

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  48. A new paper demonstrating the 97% scientific consensus of climate researchers will be published in a couple of days.

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  49. Arana, have you actually looked during the morning and evening commutes and seen the amount of cyclists? You might be surprised when you actually look because there is more than you would think. I biked to work for four years when I lived in Wellington from Kilbirnie into town (moved away a year ago). Quite a lot of people bike, and thats with virtually no cycling infrastructure! If the governent would invest even a small percentage of the motorway fund in cycling instead, it would make build a huge amount of cycling infrastructure, and studies practically everywhere have shown, if you build cycling infrastructure, people use it!

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  50. Arana said: “I’ve given up the AGW argument on here…”

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  51. But will that solution be a vehicle based?

    Julie – before there were cars, OR trains, there were roads. Many roads in Europe follow the work of the Romans.

    It does not much matter what infrastructure is laid out in Transmission Gully, I’d prefer (as others here have mentioned) a rail link of some sort alongside it, AND a bike path with some rain-wind protections, but the establishment of the route is critical… and much of the investment is in breaking that new trail, not in the pavement. Rail can happen a lot easier once the route is established.

    That is why I selectively support this particular road.

    Having lived in Porirua and being old enough to know my limitations, I know darned well why I personally won’t cycle to and from Wellington. The guy who biked in from Johnsonville for two years was injured twice in two years, and he was half my age, a big strong guy and very good with the bike. Wellington is blessed with a good rail connection… that is itself all too vulnerable to sea level changes. What is the dike that protects that infrastructure (and hopefully Te Papa) going to cost? IT needs to be planned to be expanded to be 30 meters high (has to have a very broad base) if it is to be useful for more than a century or two…

    Overall, National’s policies are poisonous things. There is no benefit to the bypass in Paraparaumu, the basin fly-over is insane… but to effectively oppose their insanity we have to remain sane, rather than simply opposed… no? This is one of those places where we might better get a bit of something we need, appear reasonable and principled as we explain why, and give people some pause to think about what EXACTLY we are storing up for our kid’s futures.

    This is for us, absolutely 100% NOT about economics. It may be for National, but we all understand their treasonous approach to governance. On economic grounds there is no contest… more roads should be “sucking hind teat” in the priorities, but there is a bit more to THIS route than economics. Exceptions TEST the rule, this one is I think, a valid and even useful exception for us to make.

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  52. The portion near Pauhatanui can be elevated, even retrospectively.

    Steeper grades do not prohibit several varieties of electrically driven rail.

    The communities the route by-passes will be joined by new communities along it.

    A lot of people will be moving away from threatened shorelines.

    I am not a big fan of building dikes… the cost of moving infrastructure has to be very high for me to consider that solution, and I prefer such structures to be sheltered from the worst storms, but the construction a barrier along the coast, blocking off Porirua and Titahi bay and that beautiful stretch of deadly road between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki CAN be considered as an alternate option… if you like. As I said before… it’ll be a big dike. Then we get to Paraparaumu…

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  53. An AWFUL lot of people are “in denial” ( in the sense of being unable to think about the awful inevitabilities rather than denying that there is a problem ). That applies to many Greens as well as the general public.

    Most Greens are well aware of the climate problem and intellectually accept the reality… but the reality is still not “real” in terms of their other actions and priorities. We can’t do anything about it, it is too big to even think about preparing for… and I do think that this applies to people who are altogether supportive of actions to stop CO2 emissions. It is very very human to NOT be able to accept the scale… and only when it starts to bite (as Rob said, long before we hit 2 degrees), will we respond.

    Watch first for the NZ agricultural sector to be hammered by “weather” and the rest of the world to be hammered even more. The value of what we export will increase, the quantity we can export will take a hit.

    I fully expect 1.7 meters +/- 0.5, of sea level rise at the end of this century. I would say 3-5 by the end of the next. One can kiss downtown Porirua good-bye, and a fair lot of SH1. It will be expensive to move people and infrastructure, but it will be even more expensive if there is nowhere to move TO.

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  54. Problem is, BJ, that when “the sea and climate change claim SH1, the city of Porirua and a good chunk of Paraparaumu” as you expect, this also knocks out the future Transmission Gully/SH1 route, given it joins the present SH1 route before low-lying Paraparaumu, stops before the low-lying section of SH1 at Ngauranga, and is equally low-lying at Pauatahanui. So why promote this route?

    If we want a route not threatened by sea level rise, we’d need something that follows the old Tawa road through the Northern suburbs, then swings inland around Grenada. Probably then connects with the Hutt and takes the main route north over the Akatarawas. Expensive, but possible.

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  55. BJ says “IT needs to be planned to be expanded to be 30 meters high”

    The last IPCC report had predicted sea level rise between 0.18m and 0.59m.

    So why do you need a 30m high dyke?

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  56. Photonz – It doesn’t stop going up when the century ticks over to 2100.

    1. The last IPCC report was in error on the sea level, and on the Ice. The initial rise this Century will be a meter and can be more. I am asserting 1.7 meters.

    2. You build a dike to protect the infrastructure for the long term. We are heading for Pliocene like conditions so the oceans are going to be about 30 meters higher. Only the heart of Antarctica will retain ice.

    We won’t get there in the next 100 years but in the next 500 it will definitely show you increases that ARE that order of magnitude. You want to protect the city for 100 years and THEN have to give it up?

    Just plan the base of your dike structure to deal with that or do not build a dike at all. Move everything up into the hills.

    You don’t need to build the dike that big to start, but you do want to be able to add on as required, and it doesn’t cost so much to make that preparation.

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  57. Sam – The old Tawa road and other roads are going to need to be used anyway… if there is no dike built. They are roads, they can be improved and the city won’t be cut off. I think of the rail yards and infrastructure of Wellington and I reckon a dike is a likely adaptation.

    If one connects those skinny streets to get to this route above Ngauranga one still has a way to get through to the North.

    The situation at Paraparaumu simply requires that end will be, eventually, moved up into the hills. Not nearly as expensive I think as the alternative you propose and we can get it built easily, by letting someone else take the heat for it. Which gets us creds as being realistic when the voters hit the polls.

    What you just said (not in so many words and as I understood it) was that if the sea rises we give up access to that coast. Most of the TG route is above expected sea levels and is able to be adapted. It opens up areas for development and housing that we ARE going to need. If you want to counter-propose a route up through the Wairarapa I won’t argue, but I reckon it is a lot LESS likely to be built. An additional rail tunnel through the mountains perhaps? Not with National on the job.

    Take what we can get.

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  58. bj says “We won’t get there in the next 100 years but in the next 500 it will definitely show you increases that ARE that order of magnitude. You want to protect the city for 100 years and THEN have to give it up? ”

    Cities reinvent themselves continually. 90% of Wellington buildings weren’t around just 100 years ago.

    And a big chunk of what is now Wellington city (and same for Dunedin) was still harbour 150 years ago. It was all reclaimed, by hand, without the help of machinery.

    Planning for something that may or may not happen in 500 years is nuts – especially when you say the predictions in the latest IPCC report are wrong (just like every report before them).

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  59. Brian asks “Could you please explain,”

    You’ll have to ask BJ – it’s his claim that the last IPCC report was in error on sea level estimates.

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  60. Preliminary Hansard: Julie Anne Genter: “I have this pie chart that shows the New Zealand Transport Agency’s forward funding for 3 years. On this pie chart is all the new infrastructure spending for the next 3 years under the National Government, and the entire purple part is for a few new State highways.”

    The Hansard cannot show the pie chart but that purple part must have been 80 to 90% sector of the chart.
    Julie continued: “You have got this green bit that shows the local roads and this tiny, tiny bit here, that is the red bit, for new public transport infrastructure, and an even smaller bit here in blue that is for new infrastructure for walking and cycling. The reason the National Government has such an unbalanced transport budget is that it campaigned on a few very poor business case motorways. Those were the Waikato Expressway, the Pūhoi to Wellsford motorway—the “Holiday Highway”—and the Wellington Northern Corridor. These three motorways had such terrible business cases that the National Government had to invent a category called the roads of national significance so that they could get funded, because otherwise they never would have been funded because their benefit-cost ratios are so low. The benefits that they will provide to the New Zealand economy are not greater than the cost that they will incur. They never would be justified by any rational economic analysis. They tried to hide the poor benefit-cost ratios of these three projects by lumping them together with other projects, like the Victoria Park Tunnel that was planned by the previous Labour Government. Although it was completed under National’s watch, the truth is it was not National’s idea.”

    Might some of the contributors to this blog care to comment.

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  61. Brian – Why the shock that an agency whose role is to fund primarily state highways, is funding primarily state highways?

    (local roads and public transport are funded mainly by councils, and rail is funded by Kiwirail – NZTA has always had a much smaller funding role for these although despite this, funding for public transport is up over 20% on the last funding period).

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  62. Transit New Zealand was about the state highways. It merged with Land Transport NZ (whose job was promoting safe and functional transport by land) in 2008 to form the NZ Transport Agency. This should be giving a better overall plan. But for example:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1208/S00159/govts-priorities-for-kiwirail-short-sighted.htm

    “Responding to comments by KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn on Q & A this morning, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said that the National Government has chosen to erode passenger rail services in an effort to get the rail freight business unit profitable enough to sell.

    “It’s obvious that the Key-Banks Government wants to get KiwiRail into a position to privatise; why else would they have such a narrow focus on profit margins,” asked Ms Genter.

    “Our transport networks are full of cross-subsidies. The National Government is wasting billions of dollars on a few big motorway projects that would never be able to pay their own way as standalone commercial projects. But it won’t invest in getting our rail network back up to scratch.””

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  63. To travel by train from Christchurch to Picton costs more than twice the bus fare. But it must have been surprising the operators that it was still being well-used. It’s almost as if they wanted it to fail. Well it has now been stopped until late September. So the investment is sitting idle.

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  64. So Photonz, in 200 years you’ll REPLACE Te Papa and everything Lambton Quay to the waters edge, Courtenay Place, the Stadium, the Rail Station and every bit of rail yard? Really? You make expensive choices mate.

    I EXPECT a dike… from Oriental all along that shoreline into/over what used to be Petone so that the rail and road access to the city AND the city itself is preserved.

    You want adaptation, and that IS an adaptation, and a reasonable one. One would want a system of dikes (forming cells) so that a quake is not fatal.

    Brian: http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-scientists-esld.html

    The IPCC underestimated Ice loss and sea level rise. It is quite clear that it did. I am confident that one of the WAIS or GIS will be starting a collapse by the end of the century… but even if that does not happen by then it WILL happen by 2120. The ocean can rise quite rapidly in such a scenario. Faster than a dike can go in. Faster than you can move a whole city.

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  65. “What you just said (not in so many words and as I understood it) was that if the sea rises we give up access to that coast.”

    All I’m saying is that if you want a transport corridor that future proofs us against climate change, Transmission Gully isn’t it. It’s barely better than the present SH1. It’s yet another huge investment in a route that will need significant re-routing and remedial work if sea levels rise. So I see no reason to advocate for it.

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  66. BJ says “So Photonz, in 200 years you’ll REPLACE Te Papa and everything Lambton Quay to the waters edge, Courtenay Place, the Stadium, the Rail Station and every bit of rail yard? Really? You make expensive choices mate. ”

    200 years ago Wellington didn’t exist. All the places you mention were in the harbour. Trains, cars, electric lights etc. didn’t exist either.

    Design life for stadiums is only 50 years. The buildings we need, and their specifications will be completely different to those we use now. And the national museum will be in Auckland.

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  67. People need to experience the London underground to know what good public transport is. It might not suite Wellington being earthquake prone but a monorail system totally independent from roads, buildings etc. I think is the solution.

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  68. The high importance given to economic pay-off in most policy directions today is a worry to me. For example in Canterbury, water management loses significant input to reduced ploughing to save water in the soil, use of tall shelter belts, choice of activity/crop suitable to the land and climate. Efficient use of water, to have simple economic spin off, just means use of sprinklers, piping the races, and where a farmer is not using his consent to the max that consent should be transferred: about developing a water distribution business. Supposedly it was a collaborative process forming those notions, however there can be stronger voices in “collaboration” and mine was not answered.

    I feel we need to be able to look beyond the current sorts of economic drivers when planning transport. Building highways gives a lot of money to contractors, and jobs, for the short term. The result with the Wellington northern motorway is supposed to help with keeping alive our capital city, with its tremendous investment.

    This blog has been discussing the threat of inundation to Wellington. And travelling through recently, I felt quite eerie, coming from Christchurch and thinking of the earthquakes. How many of those closely packed skyscrapers have base isolation to stop a domino effect? And the prevalent bricks.

    Maybe more people than I are feeling uneasy about spending too long in Central Wellington.

    Julie Anne’s refs lead, for one matter, to a vegetable distribution business. Yes that does perhaps include the “required” money matters. If allowed it could even distribute hobby crops. But the economic factor of people being dependent on big food sellers would be short circuited.

    Yesterday in Parliament, Nick Smith was talking about cramming some double the people on to State House sections in Auckland. That gives the tenants very little garden space, and keeps up the economic stream to big food distribution business while it reduces the chance for continuing a top recreation for NZers, that of gardening.

    We don’t really know how soon quakes and sea levels will hit and I believe we should at least consider decentralising as an option. It may be healthier, too, and that would go against the strong med-business sectors.

    I think transport energy and technology (letscarpool, avego, jayride &c.) will become cheap, if we need it when our work can’t be done on line. What we could “value highly” is biodiversity, and spaced out houses could house biodiversity stewards, and give us useful activity.

    Sorry I have not written it all clearly.

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