Labour finds some love for roading projects

Labour are chasing every passing car these days to gain relevance.

After nearly a decade criticising the building of roads, opposing funding for new roads, and obstructing laws to enable roads, they’ve finally found some love for a roading project.

Labour will build a new road to replace the Manawatu Gorge Road as quickly as possible, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“I am committing Labour to building a new road as quickly as possible. We will use all the powers of government to speed up consenting and construction of the new route, likely to the north of the gorge through the Te Apiti wind farm.

“Since the 14-month closure in 2011/12, it has been obvious that a new, permanent route is needed but National hasn’t been willing to make investment in the regions. Even now, National is dragging their feet with no detail or timetable. The regions that depend on this connection are rightly losing their patience with National’s lack of action.

So, I guess they won’t be calling this one the “Holiday Highway” then? Why didn’t they support other roading projects with the same vigour? Is it because in a few short weeks there is an election?

“It is sad to say goodbye to the iconic Manawatu Gorge Road but, even if it could be re-opened, it has become too unreliable and expensive.

Just wait until some heritage campaigners launch legal action to protect the “iconic” road.

“Over the past decade, the Gorge Road has been closed one day in six on average. $40m has been spent on maintenance and clearing slips in that time. That makes it 15 times more expensive per vehicle/kilometre travelled than the average for the state highway network.

“Travellers, tourists, and the trucking industry need a reliable route, and the Saddle Road simply can’t handle the volume of heavy vehicles.

“Expert analysis of the options in 2012 shows that a new route through the Te Apiti wind farm, at a cost of $120m, would be the least expensive and produce the best returns on investment. The final decision on which route to build will be made by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

“The regions that depend on this connection deserve certainty. My commitment to them is that Labour will build a new, reliable road as soon as possible,” says Andrew Little.

All sounds good, but this is what Phil Twyford said about such roading projects:

Labour says it will rethink the Kapiti Expressway’s design and tinker with the contract for Transmission Gully if elected.

Transport spokesman Phil Twyford said his party wanted to shift spending from “low-value” motorway projects towards local roads, rail, shipping, public transport, walking and cycling.

If it assumed power after the September 20 [2014] election, Labour would review the Government’s roads of national significance projects, eight of which go through the Wellington region.

It would look to modify the “negative” impacts of those already under construction and find “affordable, safe and environmentally friendly” alternatives for those that were yet to start.

So two roads to clear traffic from Wellington was low priority, but a road between a few rural towns is much more important and warrants changing laws urgently?

Pork Barrel politics yet again. Here is yet more evidence that Andrew Little is talking out of his arse again:

Both the Labour and the Green parties have signalled their intention to delay, modify or cancel some of National’s big-budget motorway projects.

But they are also aware of the need for a second major route out of the capital and won’t be pulling up the ladder on Wellingtonians if elected.

They have taken issue with the terms of the public-private partnership contract for Transmission Gully, which they say will end up costing taxpayers $3.1 billion over 25 years once the motorway opens in 2020.

Labour claims it is not in the business of breaking contracts, but it will tinker with what it calls a “high-interest mortgage” in an attempt to reduce the annual repayments of $125m.

We can also expect a Left-wing coalition to rip significant chunks out of the Government’s proposed state highway budget if elected, as they seek to “rebalance” spending towards rail, public transport, walking and cycling.

The Greens want to remove $11.3b over the next decade and put it into public transport. Labour isn’t talking numbers quite that bold but it has signalled a desire to halt construction of the $1.7b “holiday highway” between Puhoi and Wellsford, north of Auckland, in favour of a $320m upgrade of the existing State Highway 1 connection to Northland.

Has Labour changed their previous stance on roading now?

Can Labour be trusted when you have the Greens in the mix?

How is Labour going to fund this when the Greens want billions shaved out of roading budgets?

Labour needs to come clean on their real roading policy.




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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.