If Steven Joyce does nothing else as transport minister, he has ensured himself the grateful thanks of Wellingtonians.
I have to say that the response on the street has been overwhelmingly positive. I think most people had given up on it ever actually getting funding.
Yesterday’s green lighting of Transmission Gully as part of a $2.1 billion to $2.4b upgrade of the main road north is a godsend for the Wellington region. All going to plan, the capital will, in 10 years, be linked to all points north by a four-lane expressway stretching from Wellington Airport to Levin. Vehicles will be able to move in and out of the capital with a minimum of fuss and bother. The benefits will be enjoyed not just by motorists but by businesses that will be able to get their goods to market faster.
And having fewer cars stuck in traffic jams will mean less emissions!
The last government undertook to contribute several hundred million dollars towards the cost of upgrading the road north, but never came up with enough money to get the project under way. The difference between it and its successor is that this Government has decided to invest nearly $11 billion in new state highway infrastructure in the next 10 years to reduce congestion and road deaths and improve productivity. As Mr Joyce noted yesterday: “There is nothing like putting a funding pipeline on the table and saying to people `knock yourselves out’.” There is also, it appears, nothing like a minister who earned his spurs in the business world rather than making paperclip chains on Parliament’s back benches. Mr Joyce has injected a sense of urgency into his portfolio.
The last Govt did start moving in the right direction, but as the Dom Post says, Steven has brought his business experience to the portfolio, and has made some relatively quick decisions on the important priorities.