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Greens welcome new thinking on roads

23 December, 2003
Greens welcome new thinking on roads

The Green Party has welcomed today's Transfund review of projects, which signals that not all roads lead to a sustainable future.

"It was always obvious that some projects would be more compatible than others with the criteria in the new Land Transport Management Act," said Green Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons. "I am encouraged that Transfund's preliminary look at transport funding has analysed critically what already complies and what needs to change.

"The review shows the Act is starting to work effectively," "Transfund is now charged with taking a balanced, long-term overview of land transport, rather than just rubber-stamping road funding. With this review, Transfund is off to a useful start in asserting its new role.

"In particular, all but one project came out negative or neutral against the environmental sustainability and public health objectives. This needs to change - there is no point to a land transport system that wrecks the environment and people's health."

She said that State Highway 20 and Wellington's proposed inner-city bypass clearly emerge as marginal projects that do little to ease congestion and score a negative or zero on all but one objective. The other four projects however all score positive overall and have less to change to qualify for funding.

Ms Fitzsimons said the review was a hopeful sign the new Auckland package would develop sustainable solutions rather than promote an orgy of road building.

" 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.

"What is needed is 'smart roading', projects that are sustainable and that genuinely work to solve the city's existing transport problems, rather than exacerbate them. What we don't want is roads that will encourage more driving and choke up with traffic as soon as they are built; roads that merely move the congestion to somewhere else; roads that ride roughshod over the natural environment without taking proper care; or roads that make life impossible for pedestrians and cyclists.

I'm sure Mayor Banks would share our desire for a solution to his city's transport problems. While we might differ over how to achieve that, I would be more than happy to debate it with him in a public forum."

Ms Fitzsimons said the onus was now on Transit to show it could work in the spirit of the new Act. "Transit has new objectives and new responsibilities - including social and environmental responsibilities. The challenge is for them to look at these projects in that light.

ENDS

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