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Speaker: Economics of the Waterview Tunnel

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  • Sacha,

    No issue - we seem to be converging.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Soooo what was it we were talking about?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Someone asked an interesting question upthread along the lines of 'who benefits?', or to put it more crudely, 'where's the money?'.

    Rich of Observationz nailed it: the government's anti-debt stance is about keeping interest rates for business low - effectively subsidising their private profits by sacrificing the rest of us.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Apropos interest rates -- low rates certainly don't benefit the elderly rentier constituency, or for that matter those of us with no debts but some savings.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    I still find it tricky to believe that a $1.1 billion option can include more tunnel than a $1.456 open cut option.

    These were the options up until today:
    http://www.jarbury.net/waterview-costings.jpg

    Why did NZTA not investigate the currently proposed options before? There MUST be a reason, and I think that reason is that their environmental/social effects were considered to be too great.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    For those of us who haven't read the full report, can you shed any light, Joshua, on what the "central interchange connectivity" options mentioned in that table amount to?

    Presumably it's to do with how it connects to the Northwestern motorway (although the word "South" is confusing me)?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    From memory there were plans to possible have an interchange somewhere near the corner of Blockhouse Bay Road and New North Road. This would enable traffic from the west to access SH20. South-facing ramps are those that would point south (ie. exit ramp for traffic heading towards Pt Chev, onramp for traffic heading towards airport). Northfacing ramps are the opposite.

    The idea of a central interchange was dropped because of the depth a tunnel would be. Perhaps it will come back on the cards now, but it was going to have some significant effects on traffic around that bit of Blockhouse Bay Road. In other words, it would be too popular for its own good, like most motorways.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    OK it is official that the gutting of the RMA will be used to speed up the Waterview Connection:

    **How does this affect the timeframe for construction of the Waterview Connection?**

    Depending on the final scope of the project it could be possible to begin construction in 2011 and complete the project within about four years.

    As a Road of National Significance this is expected to be progressed under the call-in process of the new provisions of the Resource Management Act which will significantly speed up delivery of the project.

    From here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0905/S00201.htm

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Am I not the only one to suspect that the amount of time and money paying off the potentially displaced residents will be wildly optimistic?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Am I not the only one to suspect that the amount of time and money paying off the potentially displaced residents will be wildly optimistic?

    The way it's shaping up, the new proposal looks like being a veritable masterwork of wild optimism.

    David Shearer's interview with Sean Plunket this morning was just daft. Shearer tried to explain how the respective costs had been fiddled and Plunket basically saying "but it says here".

    Newsflash Sean: sometimes governments issue ropey figures when they're trying to sell an idea.

    Shearer would be better advised to just start using phrases like "creative accounting" and "raiding the piggy bank". It'd work better than trying to explain the details.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    David Shearer's interview with Sean Plunket this morning was just daft. Shearer tried to explain how the respective costs had been fiddled and Plunket basically saying "but it says here".

    I missed that one, but heard the sequel with the chair of the community board and a resident (8.15 ish). Sean's line was (paraphrase) "it must make sense, why else would the government be doing it?"

    Riiiighto.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Then we have this.Special Select committee, my arse. It'll be selective select committee.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    well that was wrong .Please ignore that post. I meant this

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    why else would the government be doing it?

    Seriously folks, it's clear that the numbers could have been fudged just as easily to make the tunnel look cheaper eg cost for displacement of 241 families = $1.732 billion therefore the tunnel is cheaper.

    So I think we really need a good journalist to track down which business(es) benefits from the government choosing the above ground option and then to track down which politicians are close personal friends who just happen to have frequent expensive dinners with the owners of said business(es).

    TLDR This stinks of corruption and I don't have the investigative skills to find it - is there a journalist in the house?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    There were a range of options considered by NZTA over a number of years. You can see the costings for all of them on the last page of this document: http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Katrina-09/Business-case-for-the-Waterview-Connection.pdf.

    The cheapest option considered was a $1.456 billion Open Cut option. By contrast the twin tunnels were $1.89 billion when first costed. Therefore the difference was around $450 million - probably worth the extra money when you consider the social and environmental costs of an Open Cut option.

    I still believe that the financing costs were added on for political reasons, as have been (to a lesser extent) the SH16 upgrade costs.

    Now I don’t know how NZTA have come up with options with construction costs of between $760 million and $1.16 billion. But as you can’t get something for nothing, an option significantly cheaper than “Open Cut” is likely to be significantly worse. Otherwise, why were those options not considered earlier?

    Either NZTA were idiots for 6 years when coming up with the original costing of the options, or there’s something dodgy going on here. I’m picking the latter.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I missed that one, but heard the sequel with the chair of the community board and a resident (8.15 ish). Sean's line was (paraphrase) "it must make sense, why else would the government be doing it?"

    Sticking my Chair of Community Board felt lind and merino wool beanie on -

    Just to clarify, I was not interviewed by Sean Plunket this morning. It would have been the Deputy Chair, Phil Chase.

    Reluctanly removing said beanie....

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    It was Duncan Macdonald. Apologies if I got his title wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Stay classy, YourViewers.

    Against my core beliefs, I have to agree with the Greens. It is idiotic to spend so much money on a run down eyesore of a state housing suburb. We need to bulldoze over it now and build a proper road on the surface so all motorists can enjoy the fresh air and the open space. We are a car based society, and all of us rely on automotive transportation to live. The roads must be built and a few state houses and some tiny parks and a swampy creek are insignificant in the path of the greater good. Besides, who knows, in then years there might not be any more Greens to object.

    Roads are meant to be on the surface. Bulldozing over a few hundred houses and a tiny creek for the common good of the third of the country, is far better than getting to our noses in debt to build a tunnel for a few protesters looking after their own petty interests. Think how many new warships can we buy for a billion dollars, to protect our waters from those nasty foreign fishermen. We can probably by a whole new air force for the price of one tunnel that can go above ground for the fraction of the cost. And, to be fair, waterview will look far better as a motorway interchange than a suburb.

    The tunnel is a fantastic idea saving the environment, the sports fields and the creek. The majority of homes are the bludgers in HNZ homes so at least they don't lose their hard earned home. Do feel sorry for those who own their homes but this is minimal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Practically writes itself doesn't it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Haha, whoops - correct linkage for those who can bear it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    Most of the "Your Views" are actually quite anti-motorway from my reading. Even National voters from Remuera.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • llew 40,

    Putting on my local hat

    I live in the area. For what its worth I have always known it was a likely motorway designation and bought our house on a 'buyer beware' basis.

    I also recognise that regardless of the merits of motorways v public transport (and long-term I think truly global cities commonly feature a good public transport system, which Auckland clearly does not) it is somewhat pointless having a motorway ring route only 90% completed.

    So I accept that the motorway extension should be completed as soon as it can to realise the projected benefits of the full ring route, either through Waterview or more preferably the Rosebank industrial area (which should still be considered as a serious option).

    For me the areas of local discontent lie principally around the enormous extent of prior consultation that seems to have been set aside so quickly.

    Regardless of political allegiance, the principle of proper consultation and subsequent agreement should not so easily be reversed. Same for the fast-tracking of the resource consent process that is now likely. National voters should feel as uncomfortable about this distortion of process as Labour voters.

    Another area of concern is the costings - I'm yet to be convinced by anyone that the new numbers are a true apple to apple comparison with any of the previous numbers issued by Transit when they outlined the rationale for the tunnel preference.

    A true cost/benefit analysis for any large infrastructure project should include all costs, including social and environmental costs such as loss of scarce green-belt, and the ongoing costs of consultation, consent and home purchase processes.

    Its been politically opportune for National to use this issue to divide the electorate and paint Labour as fiscally irresponsible and Mt Albert residents as NIMBY's.

    However I genuinely don't believe that this is necessarily a case of NIMBYism in terms of the residents.

    Locals (by and large) accept the motorway is going to be built and that there are regional benefits, and had worked through a proper democratic consultation process to ensure that the social and environmental costs were minimised where possible. Now that process looks like it will need to start all over again.

    In the long run (and we'll all be looking back at this with much interest in 5 years hence) I'm not at all convinced that this decision will generate significant savings in cost or time from earlier proposals (particularly once the consultation is effectively duplicated and the likely delays in obtaining consents are factored in), or that the likely increase in social and environmental impact will make any objective cost/benefit analysis stack up.

    Since May 2009 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Joshua, your last post is the most concise nail-meet-head of them all - may I recommend to anyone organising opposition to this that they utilise that for the basis.

    - NZTA considered a number of options
    - The construction cost difference between the cheapest open cut option and the planned twin tunnels was only $450million
    - All other costs should be considered equal between the options for transparent comparison
    - NZTA did not consider any cheaper alternative as plausible

    - Not only have the Government cynically and purposefully overstated cost differences, but they somehow believe they can build a road&tunnel option for less than NZTA costed for the cheapest acceptable open road option. Auckland is getting a below-acceptable-quality alternative sold on dodgy numbers.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    Yes it is strange that NZTA have somehow 'magically' found three options $300-700 million cheaper than the cheapest option they have previously explored. Very strange indeed.

    I've writeen a guest post for "The Standard" on this issue: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/joyce-trashes-mt-albert/

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 237 posts Report Reply

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