This post first appeared on TraNZport and is republished with permission.
A few years ago, something strange happened in Melbourne. A major inner-city motorway (or, freeway as Victorians prefer) was proposed at the eye watering tune of $15-17 billion, with a first stage of almost $6 billion contracted just before the state election of 2014. Following the election, the project was ditched by the incoming government, the first stage cancelled (costing $1.3 billion), and money was instead pumped into major public transport projects such as the Melbourne Metro Tunnel and freeway projects in outer-city areas (such as the North East Link).
In Auckland in 2017, the proposed $2 billion “East West Link” project was also cancelled by the incoming government (or, rather more accurately, was being “rethought”). This was a behemoth of a road – some say gold plated – that was basically a motorway in all but name, linking Auckland’s southwestern and southern motorways. Government, local and central, now seem to prefer spending far less money on a smaller scale project to deal with road congestion and redirect surplus funds into public transport projects like the Auckland Light Rail project.
The role of public transport and active transport modes in reducing traffic congestion and their integration into the overall strategy from the outset
The roading solutions chosen are appropriately scaled on the basis that expensive gold-plated options might not be cost-effective long-term (i.e. induced demand is taken account of)
The effect of any strategy on the local community as well as the form and function of the city’s overall transport network is accounted for
The reality of future population growth and land use is considered. The current motorway developments in Christchurch, though I am not opposed outright to them, do seem to be based on a “here and now” setting (i.e. think about all the traffic the southern and northern motorways are likely to dump onto Brougham and Cranford Streets respectively – where was the strategy in that?).
These points above reflect what I feel are the real lessons from the three earlier projects I talked about. I’m very excited by what is happening in Auckland, and am awaiting the 2019 announcement from the Lets Get Wellington Moving working group with anticipation. I hope to see that this strategy in Christchurch will reflect what is happening in other cities, but there is an awful truth that Christchurch can be a bit slow on the uptake with regards to transport trends (the attitude from local authorities towards public transport is a great illustration of this!). I hope this does not prove to be the case, and that this strategy adopts a multi-modal approach that is an asset and not a millstone.M y worst nightmare would be a “strategy” that turns out to be a billion dollar road and little else.
Information gathering for this project began back in 2015. Community drop-in sessions were held during 6-7 December, with work on possible solutions beginning in the new year. Ideas will be shared during mid-2019 and a final decision on a preferred option made by the end of the year.
Get in and have your say on their interactive map-based feedback site here.