Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Kate Hawkesby: We need to build more roads

I’ve decided we need to build more roads.

I don’t know why we don’t just build roads everywhere all the time. The most transformational thing this government –who said they’d be transformational– could have done was build more roads. I don’t know why they hate them so much and cancelled so many of them.

The irony of this government having to officially open the Puhoi road the other day, that they originally opposed, was not lost on anyone. It’s a fabulous piece of road, makes the journey smoother, faster, more scenic, it’s actually such a thrill, we were so excited to finally get to drive it now that it’s finally open. But it really is transformational. Trucks were flowing without clogging up a small winding one lane hilly road, cars weren’t held up by them with dangerous bends and passing lanes. Traffic was flowing, and markedly reduced. It was genuinely an amazing experience.

I know I sound super excited about just a bit of tarseal, but honestly, roads are fantastic. They get us from A to B safely. They get goods and services to people, they provide access to and from communities and cities. They reduce traffic and wait times. They make our lives easier. Why have we demonized roads so much? It felt so much safer being on that highway, it made the whole experience so much more enjoyable.

I know there was similar excitement for those on Transmission Gully and the Waikato expressway. Locals in both those areas still rave about the difference those roads make to their lives. There’s genuine excitement around infrastructure that improves our quality of life, saves us time, makes commuting easier. It’s delusional to think we just don’t build any more new roads. How can we not? Why would we think just adding bus and cycle lanes is it? Surely that can’t just be the be all and end all. We are not hopping out of our cars anytime soon, despite all the carrots and incentives and free public transport enticing us to do so – we still love our cars. We need our cars, there are a million reasons many of us can’t or won’t take public transport, and so we need the roads.

Not helping the cause of buses at the moment is a video floating round the internet of an Auckland bus driver getting severely verbally abused and sworn at by someone threatening the driver for several minutes until the bus is stopped. Even then the abuser doesn't hop off before yelling more obscenities. It’s uncomfortable viewing and makes you think twice as to how safe you’d really feel on a bus with an experience like that. Who wants their kids on a bus like that?

We do of course want safer roads once we have kids of driving age. Smooth roads with no pot holes, wide roads with plenty of space. Why do we put up with such substandard infrastructure in this country, and such crappy roads? I’d almost forgotten what it was like to drive on a big wide clean straight road. Yes they cost a lot of money, but so does lost productivity due to gridlock, and accidents due to poor road conditions.

I think we don’t realise how bad our roads are until we drive on a new one and see how slick they can be. We put up with long winding clogged single lane traffic because we forget how it once was. Roads don’t have to be a thing of the past, they don’t have to be the big evil they’ve been made out to be. Drive a nice new stretch of highway sometime soon like we did at the weekend, and come back to me on how good that feels.

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.


Robert Arthur said...

Of course good roads involve a vast weight of CO2 generated in the making and in the extra driven mileage they trigger. Nothing a few billion pines wont counter(assuming never catch fire).

Anonymous said...

Bur Kate, they have been transformational, on this they kept their promise.
From Democracy to Marxism, a culture revolution and 'great leap forward' comrade. Kate, you should know that Socialism's goal is Communism?

Robert Arthur said...

A large number of waka kotahi staff heve obviously been devoting huge energy to the vital transport efficency and safety matter of oversize, confusing multi lingual road signs. check ou the website. It is incredible the effort and public cost misspent panderng to the maori takeoever.