When central government first announced their land transport Draft Policy Statement and in particular the impacts this may have on State Highway 1 North of Auckland, I was not particularly surprised.  That’s not to say I was not disappointed but it was consistent with what they had been saying for a while on this issue.  I initially restrained from commenting on behalf of the Chamber waiting to hear what our Northland based government ministers had to say on the subject that would provide some leadership and direction as to what this will actually mean for Northland.  So, at this stage we know what we are not getting but not what we will get.  In other words, almost a month on we are still waiting.


Reading the information available to date we are advised that “a second stage GPS is likely to be required in order to fully realise Government direction for transport investment” and “We hope to release this in 2019 and will work with the broader transport sector to develop.”  At which stage NZTA will no doubt be in a position to progress and in the meantime, we will still be waiting.


In some ways this is similar to many other aspects central government’s leadership at present whether it be, housing, oil exploration, a truly integrated transport system or any of a raft of issues.  In some cases, even within these individual issues there does not seem to be a lot of joined up thinking and if there is a plan out there it has not been clearly articulated as to what it is, how we’re going to get there and who is paying for it.  This lack of certainty makes it difficult to judge whether we are going in the right direction and is not a recipe to inspire confidence.


Going back the road for a moment.  It is disingenuous to say that NZTA are not influenced in their decision making by government because what is policy other than a decision-making framework.  We should at least hope for the best based on Minster Twyford’s reported statement in the media that “There will be safety improvements made to State Highway 1 including more passing lanes, pull-over bays, upgraded intersections, median and side barriers, and maybe even four lanes in some places”.


When I hear this, I picture in my minds eye something akin to the Waikato expressway at the very least if we want road link between Whangarei and Auckland that will a safe, resilient and enable economic activity.  Anything less would be selling the region short so I guess we will just have to wait.

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