The Government's decision to spend $2.4 billion on the Wellington Northern Corridor road project will have devastating effects on the sustainability and liveability of the region, the Green Party said today.
"The National Government's plan to bulldoze a new four-lane motorway from Levin to the Wellington airport is plain stupid," Green Party Wellington Transport spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.
"It makes no sense economically. It makes no sense environmentally. It doesn't even provide Wellington with a secure alternative route in the event of a major earthquake," said Ms Kedgley.
The Government's plan involves building a second Mount Victoria tunnel, a second Terrace tunnel, a fly-over around the Basin Reserve, a motorway through Hataitai, and another through the heart of Kapiti. This will bring about a meagre 10 minute saving for commuter drivers.
For every dollar invested in the Transmission Gully project, there are forecast benefits of only 36-50 cents. The historical cost benefit ratio for major road projects in New Zealand is 12 times greater than this at $6.10.
"The economics of the project simply don't stack up. Add to this the fact that volumes of traffic on our State Highways have been falling for the last two years and you're staring into the eyes of a $2.4 billion white elephant."
One of the main justifications the Minister gives for building Transmission Gully is that it will enable a second route out of Wellington in the event of an earthquake. But the Minister admitted in Parliament that sections of the route will be built on an earthquake fault, and would take longer to clear in the event of an earthquake than the Coastal Highway.
"It's madness to build a new motorway on an active earthquake fault, and the Minister knows it," said Ms Kedgley.
"This project will sever Kapiti, destroy communities, and make Wellington a congested, unliveable city like Auckland? Our rail corridor should be moving these peak volumes of traffic and freight."
"The Auckland solution of building more motorways to solve congestion was a failure. Why do we suddenly think it will work here sixty years later?"
Green's alternative plan for Wellington's transport problems: