The Northland Age

Four lanes is pie in the sky too far


I've followed “RONS” and “Four Lanes — no sticks” through its myriad mediarelea­ses, election cycles and lobbygroup stages, “strategies” plus research. SJ Kirton is entirely incorrect in “State of the roads” (Age, Tuesday, November 8) IMHO.

Originally, National's Roads of national significan­ce (RONS) extended only to Warkworth for good reason. On a map where the roadwidth represents percentage GDPtranspo­rted, including tourism, the GDP-transporte­d simply isn't wide enough north of Warkworth.

A pork-barrel politics race post-2011 with National and NZ First outbribing each other in uncosted extensions of four lanes to Whangā rei drove the “narrative”.

Bewilderin­gly, National first extended four lanes to Wellsford to secure the Northland seat. In the same year Wellsford became part of Auckland City.

A four-lanes-to-Whangarei story prevailed, which people north of Whangā rei will see almost no benefit from, living precisely where the trucking-logger-rig activity is far more frequent and intensely more damaging.

National reconstruc­ted the north side of the Brynderwyn­s as their “model” four lanes with post-andcable barriers — infinitely the most expensive barriers — despite the road remaining mostly two-plus lanes to sell the idea in regular National Party, trucking lobby, councils and NRC-backed road transport newspaper lift-outs during the terrible years of Reti and King as MPs.

Four lanes postand-cable Aucklandto-Whangā rei was never costed. It's a pie in the sky too far is why.

Media-releases never say that each roughly 20km section is a potential toll road, hence if it was ever finished it might cost $30 in tolls to drive Auckland-to-Whangārei.

As S J Kirton points out, the road will still need constant repairs because of the trucking-logger-rig plus climate change cataclysm weather-event damage, sea level rise and economic inversion which might logically make us think about staying home?

The oil and motorway age will long be over before four lanes to

Whangā rei is built.

The Labour/Greens government sensibly reviewed RONS Northland and decided on two-plus lanes with sticks that are just as effective life savers at a tiny fraction of the cost, along with shifting the transport focus from road to rail.

This is called “infinitely sensible”. They also avoid making “political capital” out of people's road death tragedies. Short of concrete’s enormous carbon footprint, human beings may not be capable of constructi­ng a road able to withstand the 10,000-40,000 times more damage a tandem rig does with each pass than a car. Abused roads need repairing aka “rehabilita­tion”, it’s that simple.

Wally Hicks


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