The Green Party is welcoming the Government’s renewed commitment to safe walking and cycling across the Waitematā Harbour, but warning that new highway investment puts our response to the climate change emergency at risk.
“Rebalancing the NZ Upgrade investment to more rail and safe walking and cycling is a positive step, but this programme still puts way too much money into a few over-specced highways. The Government must take this opportunity to invest in transformational inter-regional rail services, public transport and safer walking and cycling infrastructure in communities,” Green Party Transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
“We are fast running out of time to address the climate emergency, and right now we must be focused on investing in low-carbon transport rather than pouring more money into a few over-priced sprawl-inducing stretches of motorway.
“The Transport Minister’s clear commitment to safe cycling across the Waitemata Harbour is welcome, as is his clear direction to Waka Kotahi to seriously investigate simple, interim solutions like using existing lanes on the Harbour Bridge. Many Aucklanders are embracing cycling and have been waiting too long for action.
“We would like to see the option of a dedicated rapid transit crossing considered with the new bridge for walking and cycling.
“It’s good to see the Government rebalancing and scaling back some of the initial highway projects, such as Mill Road, and better investment in rail around Whangarei and Marsden Point. But overall this won’t go far enough to make a substantial difference to our transport emissions.
“The most expensive highways in this package will encourage more driving and urban sprawl, which is not only bad for the climate but also takes over highly productive food-growing land near our major cities.
“We need to go further and faster on climate action. It would make a much bigger difference to our communities, productivity and our climate if this money was invested in rail, buses, and cycling and walking paths. In other countries we can see that building rail creates more jobs than building roads, and that could happen in Aotearoa too if the Government made difference choices.
"We have to set up the infrastructure to move towards a community that is net zero carbon. Building more of the same with expensive urban highways will not solve congestion, or address safety on our rural roads that need investment."