Friday, 25 June 2021

Please say no to the Auckland cycle bridge

I've finally extricated myself from the end-of-trimester marking load. While I was buried in exam and final test papers, this happened, as reported by the New Zealand Herald:

A planned standalone cycle and walkway bridge next to the Auckland Harbour Bridge has come under fire for its cost, and a newly released figure shows the cost of it could far outweigh the benefits.

Transport Minister Michael Wood did not provide the benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) when he announced the new $785m project earlier this month – but has now revealed the initial assessment by Waka Kotahi is only 0.4 to 0.6.

That meant for every dollar spent on the bridge, there would effectively be a 40 to 60 cent loss.

Governments do some pretty dumb things, but essentially flushing money down the toilet by spending it on a project that doesn't even pass a simple cost-benefit test is about as bad as it gets. And what is especially galling about this is that the government is under fire for a slow coronavirus vaccine rollout, and for under-funding health care and education. Any of those issues could use a share of $685 million and improve wellbeing vastly more than a vanity project stretching over the Waitematā Harbour. Although, given the continuing failures on mental health despite announced additional funding, it's becoming abundantly clear that we have a government that is big on announcements and short on delivery.

I've given the government their dues over the last couple of weeks for avoiding the worst potential decisions that were open to them (see here and here), but funding this bridge is simply stupid. This priceless quote from ACT leader David Seymour pretty much sums it up:

"We'd lose less if Michael Wood sent taxpayers' money to a Nigerian prince to keep safe until he can pay us back."


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