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Sunday, 16 February 2014

SH58: submissions

The proposed SH58 interchange with Transmission Gully:
why the SH58 upgrade needs to happen now.
NZTA is calling for feedback in its latest newsletter on the Petone - Grenada link road. Fair enough.

But the newsletter also has this to say about "Efficiency Improvements" on SH58:
This study looked at SH58 efficiency upgrades from the future Pauatahanui Interchange (created by Transmission Gully) to the Haywards intersection with SH2. Efficiency upgrades to SH58 are not a suitable alternative to the new Link Road as they would deliver significantly less transport and economic benefits. With the new Link Road in place there will be no need to consider efficiency improvements to SH58 for quite some time. There is, however, a need to improve the safety of SH58. We are currently investigating safety improvements with a range of possible options being considered, including guardrails, realigning the road, better road marking, median wire rope barriers and widening the road.
A few points to make here:
  1. The SH58 upgrades are not an alternative to building the Link Road. The only question is which project should go ahead first: the economic benefits of the Link Road must depend on traffic SH58 carries and could carry. While the NZTA is saying above that constructing the Link Road would allow them to delay improvements to SH58, the same must be true if the upgrades to SH58 were to go ahead before the Link Road.
  2. SH58 is the existing road that will connect the Hutt valley with Transmission Gully. Unless NZTA wants to close the road that will always be the case. Transmission Gully's construction is scheduled to start in September 2014 and due to be completed by 2020. The best case scenario for the Link Road being completed is by 2018, the latest three years after Transmission Gully opens. That means that in the scenario that the Link Road goes ahead first, the Hutt Valley will miss out
  3. Upgrading SH58 should therefore be the first project to go ahead. The road is in existence now. It is a major safety risk now. We should ask what the best return on our tax dollars is here - to me, it's clearly upgrading an existing road first and delaying building a new one until traffic justifies it.
The closing date for submissions to NZTA is 31 March. I'll be making my submission and posting it here.