Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Light rail link cheaper option than Majura Rd conversion to a Parkway

The ACT Greens are asking that the true costs and reasons for the Majura Rd upgrade are assessed by the ACT Auditor General. This is a request based upon the reading of the Victorian Auditor Generals report on the over-egged claims by road builders for their efforts over any years on Victorian road projects, and of course comparisons can be directly made locally after the ongoing debacle of the GDE.

Canberra Times article: Light-rail link cheaper option than parkway: Greens
Several Victorian major roads projects were built based on reduced road congestion justifications, which have not eventuated, in fact the congestion has grown. The ACT Greens are now calling for the same scrutiny to be applied to the ACT Governments justifications for the Majura Rd upgrade. They also argue that a light rail solution would be a cheaper, and better solution for Canberra.

I think if we take our political blinders off and look at what the Greens actually said you will find that its actually a quite sensible question to ask. Why do we accept the claims made that are used to justify building more roads? 

Light Rail ACT are not anti-road or anti-car. We are pro-public transport. We believe that a family shouldn't need two cars to carry out its affairs. A well designed road and public transport system should allow this.

From the ABC article:

The ACT Government has allocated $144 million from 2012 to fund the first two years of the project which will link the Monaro and Federal highways.
It is currently pushing for the Commonwealth to put up the same amount to finish the road from 2014.
Ms Bresnan says it may be that the money is better spent on public transport.
"The ACT Government's website on Majura Parkway continues to claim that a new Majura Parkway will 'relieve traffic congestion' and 'reduce greenhouse gases'," she said.
"We can't keep spending ACT taxpayers money on false promises. We have to be realistic about the genuine impacts of any new proposals that are put up as a solution to congestion."
But Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says the Government has thoroughly examined the reasons for building the Majura Parkway.
"One of the important reasons for this road is that it's going to keep freight out of the main areas of Canberra, suburban Canberra," she said.
"That's where I need to press the Commonwealth on the fact that this is not just about Canberrans moving between north and south."
The reasons to convert Majura Road into a parkway have always been spurious, based more on the need for upgraded freight corridors than concern for commuters. The Majura Road upgrade will mainly benefit the trucks carrying freight from the Airport to the Federal Highway – that will be the reason it will receive federal government money.

These other claims regarding reduced road congestion etc are just false. It carries 17,000 cars a day now, do you think that number will decrease when its changed to two lanes each way ?

Logic says it will not.

I am not saying you dont upgrade the road, because I have used it and it needs upgrading, but to thrust this road upgrade forward to Infrastructure Australia as the ACT’s PRIMARY infrastructure project is just bizarre – however totally instep with ACT Govt thinking. Two year ago Light Rail was the primary Infrastructure Australia bid - why the change in priority

The article also quotes the 2004 KBR costs for light rail construction, which were then regarded as 'too expensive'.  The total cost of this road project will exceed what would be required to build light rail from Gungahlin to Civic. What do you think will deliver a greater long term benefit to ACT residents ?  

Most of the passenger cars that fill the Majura Road from Gungahlin are used for commuting. Build a proper public transport system that would let people commute quickly, reliably and comfortably – and they will use it. This will reduce road congestion, and decrease the need to build more major roads.

Lets circle back to the report though. What I use when lobbying for public transport is evidence. Looking at claims made to justify all transport infrastructure investment is important, all claims should be scrutinised

Maybe this sort of scrutiny would have delivered light rail in the early 1990's or a properly funded four lane GDE instead of a never ending construction zone which has caused more road congestion than it has ‘solved’

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