Monday, September 3, 2012
RONS Wreck Rural Roads
Gerry Brownlee has already admitted that the investment in the Roads of National Significance (RONS) is largely based on his belief that they are a good idea, not because of research or cost/benefit analysis. Investing over $12 billion in motorways that fail, or barely survive, economic analysis has resulted in sucking funds from more deserving transport infrastructure investments.
Local councils are struggling to maintain rural roads and yet when you compare a region such as Southland with the Holiday Highway the economic argument in giving the motorway the priority just doesn't stack up. The motorway provides few economic benefits yet the rural roads of Southland support 11% of our export returns. Southland's rural roads are constantly being used by milk tankers, logging trucks, stock transportation and servicing and supporting the tourist industry. This roading network is an essential part of the nation's economic success and to underfund them is already having negative consequences.
Queenstown is New Zealand's biggest tourist magnet and yet it has been just announced that there is no money to build the much needed Kawarau Bridge and construction will probably be delayed for a number of years. There are currently long queues at peak times as cars, trucks and tourist buses attempt to use the one lane, historic bridge.
I generally criticize the spending on roads because of the lack of investment in rail and public transport and yet here is evidence of bizarre priorities even within the roading allocation.