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Greens warn against Auckland road frenzy

12 December, 2003
Greens warn against Auckland road frenzy

The Green Party has welcomed today's transport package, but warned against Auckland embarking on a new orgy of road building.

"This package is all about funding, not projects," Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today. "All projects need to be assessed against the Land Transport Management Act and so this is not a green light for any particular roads.

"Our current level of car dependence is unsustainable. Congestion is crippling Auckland, but the sequence must be: first provide alternatives to the car, then look at pricing measures, and then see what smart roading initiatives are needed, based on the new traffic patterns.

"This package makes it possible to have a workable public transport system within the reach of most Aucklanders," Ms Fitzsimons said. "With that would come cleaner air, safer streets and better public health. It would be a tragedy if the money went first to a few enormously expensive roads.

"All the analysis that went into this package shows that regardless of funding, we can't build roads fast enough to control Auckland's congestion. We've got to give priority to the measures that can - and that means public transport, walking and cycling initiatives and demand management.

"An orgy of road building based on a 1950s plan, as some Auckland local authorities want, would be an economic suicide note for Auckland. No rational business would say that a 50-year-old plan is the best way to plan investment for the 21st century.

"We should not squander precious funds on concrete tendrils that will fill with cars just as oil prices rise and climate change bites.

"The Greens will be closely involved in the next steps, including developing legislation, as part of our cooperation agreement with the Government over transport," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"It is vital that the Auckland transport agency is staffed with people who understand sustainable transport systems, including the limits of road building and the importance of integrating transport and land-use. We will be watching this very closely, as New Zealand does not have a good record in this area.

"This package has the potential to deliver the transport system Auckland needs for the 21st century - but wrongly applied it will be an economic, social and environmental disaster," said Ms Fitzsimons. "More than ever Auckland needs transport decision makers with vision, not concrete fever."


ENDS

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