Headlines in newspapers are saying that the business case for building a second harbour crossing in Auckland have been delayed. The implication is that this will exacerbate the traffic congestion problem.
Auckland’s Mayor, Phil Goff has a published Vision Statement which I quite like. It talks about opportunity, diversity, somewhere that people want to come to live, work, play, raise families on at least an equal footing with the best cities in the world.
It talks about improving public transport, creating more opportunities for walking and cycling and about addressing the housing shortage. It doesn’t say anywhere that we want to build dormitory suburbs and trying to push the people that live in those suburbs to commute into the CBD.
In fact, what the stories are saying is that we are close to gridlocked already and the population is growing at a pace which currently appears to be unsustainable.
My question is, are we trying to fix the wrong problem. Are we trying to fix a people problem with technology? We know from cities which are much bigger than us, that adding more lanes to highways and increasing public transport, in and of itself just increases congestion.
We know that congestion taxes, slowing traffic, limiting forms of traffic to certain roads and other mitigations can help for a while. The Waterview Tunnel in Auckland is a great example of that. But, as this article alludes to, this will only slow the tide, it won’t stem it.