Hiya! Who wants to talk about the Basin Reserve flyover and money? Tough. We’re talking.
With apologies to all you admirable Ms. and Mr. Wizards out there, wearing your number caps and quadratic formula capes, I must declare: Math sucks. Whether you make it a plural or not. But it’s also darn helpful. Sometimes, amidst all the jibber jabber debate surrounding infrastructure change, it’s roundly overlooked. So, kudos to the new community group calling itself Community and Sustainable Transport (CAST) which has formed itself to respond to NZTA’s roading proposals for Wellington.
CAST is using math– goodness love them– to remind us all that cost and promised convenience are not the only things to consider in the initial planning stages of a giant land-, home-, and school-claiming project. There’s also the value of the benefit. It makes a ratio. A cost-benefit ratio, even.
According to CAST, the $500 million project, as proposed, will require over 30 years to deliver $200 million in economic benefits. This has David Laing, the group’s convener, asking why the government “is borrowing $500 million for such a poor return.” He suggests that a bank deposit might yield a better return on the investment. Wow. Wouldn’t it be cool to have $500 million in your bank account?
CAST is cooking up some pretty tasty food for thought as we all mull over our submissions to the NZTA’s proposals (due on 26th August). First, vehicle kilometers travelled are static and falling. As oil prices continue to rise, alternatives to fuel-consumption will likely be sought out by consumers. That’s the demand part of innovation. Unfortunately, the proposals respond to the reasonable demands of a fading era.
Second, CAST reminds us to take a look at the quality of life of Eastern suburb dwellers. If Ruahine Road is widened, we don’t just lose a piece of the Town Belt, we also expose those living within 200 meters of the road, as well as the students of Kilbirnie School and its adjacent Playcentre, to higher levels of pollution.
CAST is seeking better alternatives to the fairly limited options presented in NZTA’s proposals. Instead of weighing the benefits of two different flyovers, a new tunnel and wider roads, it would prefer to see alternatives that include public transport, demand management, and cycling and walking components. Not surprisingly, CAST is also seeking an alternative that delivers a more reasonable cost-benefit ratio. Wise folks.
Those interested in learning more about CAST should make contact by writing to David dot Laing @ gmail dot com. And everyone should take a moment to familiarize themselves with the NZTA proposals so they can chime in with their thoughts before the submission period ends in late August.