Labour is calling on the Government to pull the plug on the Mackays to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti expressway after a leaked NZTA document reveals the project has a “shockingly low” benefit to cost ratio.
Labour’s transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says the motorway project, which is currently before a Board of Inquiry, should be cancelled because the numbers simply don’t add up.
“A leaked report by engineering consultants Beca shows the half a billion dollar motorway project has a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 0.2, which falls a long way short of break even at 1.0.
“It also reveals that a $515 million investment will generate a return of only $118 million over a 30 year period. Spending this much money on what Beca describes as a ‘relatively uncongested part of the road network’ would be an economic and environmental crime.
Now it's interesting that an Auckland MP criticises this expenditure by the Government. We drive to Wellington on a fairly regular basis, and it's fair to say that from Otaki south, it can be a very busy stretch of road. That's largely because it's the only road access in to Wellington from the western side of the lower North Island.
We've long been supportive of the Transmission Gully highway, and whilst we are sceptical as to whether we'll get to drive on it before our time on earth is done, things are moving in the right direction. But Transmission Gully on its own won't improve things much at all if the highway further north is not also improved. And that is exactly what the Kapiti Expressway will do.
Darren Hughes only just held on to the Otaki electorate (through which the Kapiti Expressway will pass) for Labour in 2005. National MP Nathan Guy won the seat in 2208, and retained it with a solid 5000+ majority in 2011. Labour's opposition to the Kapiti Expressway is hardly likely to see support come rushing back, given the length of time that Otaki electorate residents spend in traffic.
Not that this would occur to Phil Twyford. Rather than having to drive in the traffic daily, weekly or even periodically. when he has to go to Wellington he'll get a cab to Auckland Airport, hop on a plane, then get a cab from Wellington Airport to Parliament. Look up next time you're stuck in traffic backed up from the Paremata roundabout; you might even see Phil Twyford flying over you.
Having an Auckland MP front this issue may well rebound on Labour. Why can't they let the likes of Kris Fa'afoi, as close to a local MP as Labour has in the Kapiti area front-foot this? Any merit that Twyford's claims may have are negated by another Labour MP telling the great unwashed to do something he doesn't do himself.