Thursday, March 26, 2009

ZenTiger Calling Elvis - Transmission Ends

Elvis isn't dead, he's in a rest home with some-one who thinks he's JFK. Between them, they have to stop a soul sucking Egyptian Mummy from killing the other rest home residents.

Which doesn't have much to do with building Transmission Gully, but then again, neither do the endless reports that come out periodically, usually after long studies into feasibility and cost which get nailed down and everyone thinks, "finally".

Transmission Gully ever built? You'd have more chance of seeing Elvis. And if you want to, I strongly recommend you do it by watching Bubba Ho-Tep. Brilliant. I liked the sound track too. It doesn't stand alone like say, The Crow, but it really suited the movie. It's B Grade, and all the better for it.

Speaking of B Grade and soul sucking mummies, I can only assume that anyone working to find Transmission Gully alternatives are victims of a similar curse. Look at the reasons they come up with in order not to build infrastructure:

1. More cars will travel into Wellington.

Well duh. Let's approach building New Zealand as if growth is a given. Let's assume our population will steadily increase and better quality (more lanes, divided centre lines, truck resistant) roads will improve fuel efficiency, remove huge wasteful traffic jams and provide more than one or two dodgy routes out of the capital city.

Furthermore, traffic can go both ways. Rather than worrying about how much extra traffic goes into Wellington City, we are free to think about how much traffic we can move out. An international airport up North? A couple of business districts with easy access? Start thinking 50 years ahead, not five.

2. It will cost more due to inflation.

Well duh. Actually, it will cost more due to inaction. We have been debating this for more than 60 years, ever since the US Army offered to build the bloody thing for free. Add up the cost of reports and studies, adjust for inflation and I wouldn't be surprised if we've spent more in "planning" than the current estimate of 1.3 billion.

3. The coastal route is cheaper and better

Maybe it is. Chances are we'll never know, because they will not do either of them. Besides, the last quote was $760 million, not much different from doing Transmission Gully, and then the DomPost publishes a "back of the envelope" estimate of only $100 million yesterday from some ex-expert. Why the discrepancy? Nothing like good reporting. This option though means we are left with one less way out of Wellington than if we kept the coastal road AND built the Gully.

4. It would take longer to repair after an earthquake

They have to be desperate to point this out. That's an unknown, as one decent rock-slide on the coast could cut off train and road after an earthquake. The point is we'd have an extra road out and in to Wellington, and therefore, a better probability of having some access after a big one.

Calling Elvis
The worse thing about all this is the narrow minded focus on just road. Any of these options should consider new rail track for high speed rail (or even just double tracking rail) and wide paths for bike and walking - all built as part of the same project.

The reporting in the DomPost was disappointing in it's lack of balance presenting "new" information that we've been through and countered repeatedly over the years. They may as well report an Elvis sighting. It has the same sense of the unreal as talking about transmission gully, but has more chance of being true.

I know, I saw Bubba Ho-Tep. One last plug: Bruce Campbell. Enough said.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

6 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Good to see you include rail as an alternative to Transmission Gully Zen. I understood the north Wgtn rail line was being doubled north of Pukerua Bay (the coastal highway bit where it cuts through a bunch of ridges, parallel and above SH1. Is that not the case?

Given Wgtn has electrified rail , I don't know why Transmission Gully is een talked about. Let the motorways snarl up, and watch commuters compare the options and make a free choice...

But one good option would be to electrify the short remaining section between Wgtn and Palmerston North, then convert Wgtn's network to the 50kHz system between Hamilton and PN. Allow rapid continuous electric rail to the cricket at the 'Tron ;)

Also, wouldn't a regular & rapid bus service between the Hutt and Porirua be a better alternative route? Complete the major route 'triangle', giving rapid links acroos the region that bypass the CBD bottleneck, etc.

Oh, and Elvis as a bus driver would be cool, tho kinda Hotel California...

I.M Fletcher said...

Heh, I saw Bubba Ho-Tep years ago.
Very good. I've loved Bruce Campbell since Army of Darkness.

ZenTiger said...

Hi Squaredrive. Not quite rail as an alternative - I want both, and bike lanes. All three. As part of a bigger plan. I use rail a lot, and if the service is good and fast, it will continue to be popular.

I am not sure if they are double-tracking from Pukerua Bay, but it needs it!

I know they are double tracking from Paekakariki to Paraparaumu, and have plans to electrify out to Waikane, which is positive.

Still need the roads though. If we let the roads clog to force rail then it was never a free choice, just the best of slim pickings.

A national highway should have 6 lanes, with a barrier in the centre to prevent head-ons. Anything less should be called "goat track". Looking at SH1, even that term is too kind.

ZenTiger said...

Bubba Ho-Tep came out in 2002 - it can take a while before I get to see new movies nowadays.

And my last paragraph of the previous comment used the word "should". I hate that word. Here's another attempt:

My definition of a national highway would be 6 lanes, with a barrier in the centre to prevent head-ons.

Looking at SH1, the term "goat track" springs to mind.

Libertyscott said...

Well Transmission Gully costs about a third more than upgrading the coastal route to a similar standard. That's quarter of a billion dollars to spend on something else, like bypassing Paraparaumu and Waikanae.

Simple as that.

Transmission Gully is a goldplated solution in a ironplated economy.

ZenTiger said...

LS, are you on D?

You sound like a socialist, with your cost justifications and "lets go on price"

Transmission Gully is more than a price issue (additional route out of the capital, extra motorway south of Haywoods helping expansion, better connectivity to the Hutt etc),

and with your suggestion of looking for cost savings, I'm wondering if next you'll flip out completely and suggest NO ROADING and spend it all on free dental care for the young?

How about we see if anyone wants to build it, and put a toll on it and the market pay it?

And use taxes for that bypass further north :-)

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