Many transport experts have weighed in on the short-sightedness, excessive cost and general all-around stupidity of the Government’s $10-billion-and-counting Roads of National Significance motorway-building programme. Now it’s time to meet the latest body to weigh in on the evils of the RONS – a disgruntled bunch called the New Zealand Transport Agency!

At a hearing in Queenstown over a plan to replace the current one-lane bridge over the Kawerau River with a two-lane bridge, the NZTA said that the Government’s Roads of National Significance programme is preventing it from upgrading important infrastructure in the regions as soon as it would like.

Senion project manager Phil Dowsett is quoted by Radio New Zealand as saying that the Roads of National Significance programme has pushed projects like this one to the bottom of the funding list.

There has been plenty of criticism from the regions of the way the RONS has sucked money out of local road maintenance – and if Phil Dowsett was a lone voice within NZTA, it would be easy to write him off as a maverick, or maybe just unusually forthright.

But from what we’re hearing, he is far from a lone voice. In reaction to our recent criticism of NZTA – criticism we think is richly justified by the agency’s public actions and statements – we’ve heard that, behind the scenes, a number of NZTA staff members are all too aware of the deficiencies of the Basin Reserve flyover project, but feel constrained by their position from saying so.

Sometimes, in these situations, word has a way of getting out. If you hear something of interest, please email us at, or come up and talk to us at forthcoming public events.