Posted by: kduston | June 24, 2008

Busy building roads to nowhere

I couldn’t help noticing the juxtaposition of two stories in the NZ Herald over the last couple of days. The first announced breathlessly that Transmission Gully has received the go-ahead from Transport Minister Annette King. The issue of tolls for the new road was not mentioned, so the funding for the $1 billion expenditure isn’t exactly clear – but hey, it’s an election year!

The second story was a couple of days earlier, and noted that traffic volumes on the Auckland motorways have begun falling as petrol prices have increased. Apparently this was a bit of a surprise to Transit, if not to anyone else in New Zealand.

So at least we’re clear about transport strategy in New Zealand – as peak oil bites and traffic volumes decline, we’ll continue to build more roads. I guess the transport planners just don’t understand the meaning of the word “irony”.

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Responses

  1. I was just reading a California-based blog and ran across this post with a very relevant excerpt:

    “The American economy has been living in a fool’s paradise for the last 20 years. As the Asian and European economies have slowly weaned themselves from cheap gasoline by raising taxes on fuel (the dollar equivalent for a gallon of gas in France is $6.20), we have refused to use “Green Taxes” to lower our consumption of gas. Now, as I pointed out last month, as the dollar falls and oil prices rise, the U.S. is going to be more affected than those economies that are already accustomed to high gas prices. We too will have to take the painful route to wean ourselves from the oil addiction.”

    With NZ facing an election, all policies are going to be aimed at making people feel better off than they are – counterproductive, at best. This is the nature of the short-term decision-making that has dominated at all levels of government here.

  2. Yes, John Taplin is a very insightful commentator. He’s also recently made the point that he thinks high-speed rail is the solution to many of California’s transport woes, and is a much better – and more sustainable – approach than pretending Californians can continue to fly around their state.


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