Toll Roads

I spent a few hours yesterday in Annecy.  In the main shopping street (now a pedestrian mall) I spotted an old French road sign (probably late 1930s).  The street had once been part of the national roading system and on the sign were distances and likely travel times from that spot to large towns nearby.  Geneva was cited as being around 80 km or 8 hours away.

When I first drove between Annecy and Geneva the trip was indeed around 80k but it  took around 45 minutes (the speed limit is faster in France than  in New Zealand).  The motorway seemed fine.  But clearly it was not fine enough for the French.  Between my last visit in July and now a new motorway has been opened linking Geneva and Annecy.  The A41 heads in a straight line, and through two mountains to Annecy. 30 km have been shaved off the trip which now takes a bit over 20 minutes.  For Annecy this has meant economic transformation.  High tech industry is now but 25 minutes away from a major international airport. And living in Annecy and working in Geneva is now a real option.  Property prices are reflecting this.

The toll for the trip cost 5.50 Euro.  I don’t think that there has been much complaint from the locals. 

What really interested me was the fact that this road carries much less traffic than will our proposed Transmission Gully Motorway or the Wellington Airport to City route.  The tunnels on the A41 were both much longer than the Mount Victoria tunnel and the topography of the route much more challenging than Transmission Gully.  How have the French been able to justify this expenditure and get construction completed so fast, when we have been procrastinating over a second Mt Victoria tunnel, Transmission Gully etc.  And might this type of expenditure explain why french productivity growth is so much higher than New Zealand’s?

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One Response to “Toll Roads”

  1. Will Marshall Says:

    The French can justify this kind of expenditure because the French have massive economies of scale and fifteen times our population. While their model of government-funded heavy infrastructure is extremely successful, NZ simply doesn’t have a large enough economy to justify spending on the same scale.

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