It seems the NZTA is to waste another $29 million dollars on State Highway 1 between Aotea Quay and the SH1/SH2 split, which is barely more than 3 kilometres. It seems maybe someone working at the NZTA on Victoria Street doesn’t like the congestion as they drive to work as the sole occupant of their car each morning. So the Dom Post reports that the safety lanes, aka shoulder lanes, may be used on the motorway as real lanes. Road infrastructure is just so bloody expensive, it’s a wonder why Treasury hasn’t called a halt to such flagrant money wasting. Wellington doesn’t need to reward people from Porirua, Tawa and the Hutt for driving to work by giving them more lane space. Instead Wellington should disincentivise them to drive in and forcing $29 million of treasure to be wasted on a peak need that lasts for less than an hour in each of the morning and evening.
Instead it should incentivise travel on the train by improving service, including the frequency of the services, and the Great Harbour Way should be built to make it safe to ride from the Hutt to Wellington, and it should put a helmetless bike share scheme in place to get you from the Railway Station to wherever you need to go. And it should fund all of that by tolls.
Road tolls already exist in New Zealand. The Northern Gateway road leading north out of Auckland is already tolled. See http://tollroad.govt.nz/. The Tauranga Eastern Link is going to be funded by tolls. And if Transmission Gully ever gets built it too is most likely to be tolled.
A small toll, say $2, should be enforced for anyone coming into Wellington on a weekday morning and anyone leaving Wellington on a weekday afternoon. One electronic toll booth would be put in the Ngauranga Gorge, and another on the Hutt Road. Because they only operate on one side of the road, morning or afternoon, then if you were driving from the Hutt and up the Gorge you would only get pinged once. The tolls wouldn’t be on the SH1 motorway at, say, just north of the Aotea Quay on ramp and off ramps, since that would only encourage toll avoidance onto the Hutt Road in Kaiwharawhara and it certainly doesn’t need any extra traffic.
Those $2 tolls could then be used to fund transport projects that aren’t road projects. If the Great Harbour Way was actually built to a decent standard and it was then safe to cycle from the Hutt to Wellington, what is the pent up demand? How many new cyclists would it encourage? How many fewer cars would then be on the road? That wasted $29 million will never need to be spent.
We could end up with a 6 lane highway all the way to Petone if we really wanted to, but do we really want to live in a city of motorways and vehicle emissions, or would we rather live in a city with bike paths and cleaner air?