A fundamental issue we run into when advocating a shift in transport investment from road building to cycling, walking and PT is that the evaluation models used by Govt ignore induced travel.
I am seeking NZ or overseas research which challenges the belief that road building is good for the economy. Can you add to this list?
Here's what I have found so far:
#1. "New roads are good for the economy"
In order to investigate this commonly held assumption, the UK's Department for Transport commissioned the SACTRA Report1, it concluded that the linkage of new roading with economic growth is "weak and disputed".
Furthermore, the study found that economic effects of a roading project are significantly affected by local circumstances and conditions. A new road may actually make areas worse off, as businesses use the new link to relocate out of the region and residents are encouraged to drive further a field for their shopping, work and recreation.
The urban sprawl encouraged by new motorways can mean significant infrastructure costs for local councils and their ratepayers, who may struggle to afford the additional infrastructure required such as stormwater, sewerage, footpaths, lighting, libraries, etc.
A strong and resilient economy requires a balanced transport system. This is best achieved by using the transport planning hierarchy where each of the various transport modes is prioritised based on their sustainability and efficiency. Such an approach encourages good town planning, public transport, walking and cycling before building new roads.
2. UK's Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA) commissioned a 3 year study which searched for and reviewed the research and found "Empirical evidence of the scale and significance of such linkage is, however, weak and disputed."
3. Simon Kingham's article in 'The Press' covers induced traffic, congestion, public transport and transport policy, at http://can.org.nz/article/why-not-cycleways-the-press-10-july-2008-p9
4. A new research report published by the NZ Transport Agency (RR350: Economic development benefits of transport investment) "reviews the major approaches for assessing national and regional economic benefits, as well as the potential distributional implications of transport induced benefits. The paper assesses whether transport influences national and regional economic development, and if so, how this is role is best asserted." This report is available at http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/reports/index.html#sustainable A hard copy will be available to be borrowed from the CAN Library.