• Andrew Dickens is on NewstalkZB, Sundays, from 9am-noon.

Whenever Auckland's woes get mentioned, the rest of the country switches off.

The Weekend Herald yesterday revealed how bad traffic has become and the pressure Auckland is under with its population boom and creaking infrastructure.

We get it, we go on about it a lot: house prices, school zones, traffic, they're familiar complaints. But by switching off, the country leaves itself vulnerable to making the same mistakes.


We've seen Auckland's blunders on traffic congestion being made in Tauranga, in Hamilton, in Wellington.

Now we're going to see it in Christchurch. There's a proposal to spend $20 million to increase capacity on the bridge over the Waimakariri to the north of the city.

After the earthquakes in Christchurch there was a need to build houses fast, and many were built to the north.

That's fine, but as soon as you move a population you move their traffic. The bridge over the Waimakariri is now heaving and there needs to be a fix.

This is entirely predictable.

We seem so short-sighted.

The houses were built so someone realised they need a road into town. If they'd been watching Auckland, they'd know you build the infrastructure first then build the houses. But no. It's Pakuranga, Botany Downs and Kumeu in the future, but in Canterbury.

As soon as the decision was made to build in the north, decisions should have been made about the infrastructure to get people into the city. But they weren't made, because we had learned nothing.


Now people are arguing whether a light rail or train system should be built instead. It's too late. Christchurch was offered a light rail system after the quakes and turned it down.

Those who said Christchurch should grab it were ignored, but will take no pleasure now in saying they told you so.

The new Christchurch is wonderful and dreadful at the same time. The precincts will look grand, but be empty in the weekend - a wasteland.

When I spoke to Lianne Dalziel after her mayoral win last year, I suggested the lack of inner-city housing is regrettable. She agreed and said she'd push for a change to the policy and try to get 20,000 people living in the city. It's not really happening.

Christchurch had the power to choose how to develop the city and the new suburb, including public and private transport options. Christchurch and the Government ignored the opportunity for the sake of looking good short-term. Build something, anything and build it quick, so we look like we're doing something.

Now we have angry motorists stuck on motorways, which should never happen in a city the size of Christchurch.

Now we have the public picking up their pitchforks, asking the leaders what they were thinking.

The Auckland disease, of short-sightedness, of poor planning and quick fixes, is spreading.

I wonder if we'll ever learn.