Getting nowhere fast in the North West – Simon Court

On a recent Saturday morning I hooked up my trailer and headed to the Cypress Sawmill to pick up a load of garden mulch. Before I left home I checked traffic on my route from Te Atatu to Waitoki.  The map showed me the fastest route would be 45km via State Highway 1, rather than the 37km through Kumeu on State Highway 16.  What possible reason could there be for a journey 25% longer taking less time?
State Highway 16 route is heavily congested and mostly two lanes, as the four-laning ends just after Westgate. The State Highway One route is a modern four to six lane highway, with a 100kmh speed limit, and generally free flowing traffic on a Saturday morning.
There is a huge volume of traffic, up to 37,000 vehicles per day on the SH16 section South of the Coatesville Riverhead highway, on what is essentially a two-lane rural road at that point. That is similar to the number of vehicles recorded passing daily through the six lane Takanini interchange when the data was collected in 2019.
Yet the growth in traffic volumes over the last ten years on these two very different parts of the network is similar, around 10,000 extra vehicles per day.
How is it that in one part of the city, the transport agency has built additional capacity to  allow for growth, yet in the North West, we are totally ignored?
Under nine years of a National Government when the Prime Minister was the local MP, nothing was done. Under the last five years of a Labour government, it got even worse as major roading projects around the region were cancelled when bike bridges and light rail became new priorities. It feels like the North-West is simply not a priority for either major party. So, what do we have to do to get a road built around here?
Central and local government plans for growth need to be coordinated. It is no good having councils rezone large areas for housing and commercial development, which are totally ignored by governments and politicians when it comes to delivering the needed  infrastructure at scale.
The Auckland Future Land Supply Strategy, when it was published in 2017, estimated that around 12,000 additional homes had been added to the North West in the previous decade. That’s around 30,000 extra people wanting to go places every day.
The growth is set to continue over the next three decades at a similar rate. We are all  familiar with the cycle of politicians announcing projects which they run out of money to  deliver, or projects which are simply cancelled following a change of Government.
ACT would instead establish 30-year infrastructure plans to be agreed between central and  local governments for each region.
Local government has a much better idea where growth is going to occur and would know  which projects are needed to provide for that growth. Central government has the size and  scale to design and procure major projects.
Under a government involving ACT, local needs like building roads for tens of thousands  of new residents would become the priority for government, not bike bridges and light rail  fantasies.
We would also use New Zealand’s independent Infrastructure Commission as the auditor  to make sure that the 30-year plans deliver the necessary benefits, within acceptable times  frames.
This Government might be allergic to long-term decision making, but ACT is not.

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