RoNS reversal the first ‘right’ step, says LabourBy Alan Tristram
The Government’s decision to scale back the northernmost section of the Wellington Northern Corridor is the first right step to reining in its out of control spending on motorway projects, according to Labour’s Transport spokesperson, Phil Twyford.
He says: “It is great to see National has decided there are more cost-effective solutions than the gold-plated, four lane expressway, former Transport Minister Steven Joyce trumpeted when he announced the project.
Earlier, the Government announced its decision to abandon plans for a $400 million four-lane expressway from Otaki to Levin in favour of $100 million for upgrades to the existing highway.
This follows persistent warnings from officials to Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee that falling road tax revenues and escalating costs mean the Roads of National Significance (RoNS) are unaffordable.
It also follows comments by Mr Brownlee that the RoNS would “cost what they cost” and that falling traffic volumes don’t warrant re-consideration of the projects because “if we build it, they will come”.
But Phil Twyford says: “Now let’s hope National applies the same common sense and care with taxpayer money to the rest of the so-called Roads of National Significance .”
“National gave most of these projects—which will cost the country 12 billion over the next ten years- the green light before their economic costs and benefits had been assessed. Not surprisingly, most of them have very poor value for money.
“The rest of the transport system is being sacrificed on the altar of the RoNS.” Phil Twyford says.
“Urban public transport is not keeping pace with demand, local road maintenance is being deferred and this week KiwiRail announced 200 layoffs.
“It is time Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee took a hard look at the remaining RoNS and asked himself whether a more balanced approach would deliver better value for New Zealand.”