Opinion: $12B on roads and we're stuck at the green lights

Auckland traffic (file)
Auckland traffic (file)

By Duncan Garner

On Sunday afternoon I was coming back into Auckland from Taupo and got stuck at the tail of a traffic jam south of Taupiri. 

I took a photo to prove it. It did my head in. It was a 120km-long traffic jam. 

This is a manmade debacle. It took us more than two hours to crawl into Auckland. This wasn't Easter or a long weekend -- this was just a weekend.

This is so bad for the economy and dreadful for our environment.

We are driving more cars and more, bigger trucks on our 1980s narrow and poorly designed roads.

Yes, they're trying to fix them, but Xmas is coming too -- in 2019. The roads in Invercargill's main street are wider than some parts of State Highway 1.

We are basically dumping millions of people onto some of our busiest goat tracks in the country.

Yes, we have improved some of the highways and expressways -- but they still end up in a single carriageway, controlled by lights, in Huntly, or Puhoi, or Wellsford or Warkworth.

It's a recipe for traffic disaster and chaos. And so we have it. 

Just read the latest TomTom survey. You simply can't add 40,000 people a year in Auckland, every year, and not consequences.

Auckland has spread like a disease and we have no medicines or drugs to fix it.

Auckland has become like the other big international cities -- we are gridlocked and going nowhere. Auckland is stuck at the lights and going nowhere.

And we knew this was coming.

We have had record immigration into Auckland for years now -- 134 new people arrive in Auckland every day now. Every. Single. Day. This is a record number.

We don't build enough houses and we can't build the roads quick enough. We have train tracks but only the odd, occasional freight train. We have few or no commuter train options outside of Auckland into the regions.

The truth is we have spent billions and billions on roads and we're waiting longer and longer. And with record immigration set to continue, all this can only get worse.

Which leads me to this conclusion -- no one, anywhere in power at any level, has any idea how to fix it but throw money at the problem and hope for progress.

But so far, where has that got us? 

Nowhere. Literally. Nowhere. We are officially at a standstill.