Shift saves 160 homes

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell More com­mu­nity re­ac­tion P3

MA­JOR changes to the west­ern ring route mo­tor­way align­ment are be­ing hailed as a pos­i­tive step for the com­mu­nity.

The New Zealand Trans­port Agency an­nounced late last month that the Waterview link will be built fur­ther east, with a deeper and longer tun­nel than pre­vi­ously planned.

The changes will also see fewer houses af­fected by the route – 205 in­stead of 365.

Align­ment changes are ex­pected to shorten the State High­way 20 link and the tun­nelled sec­tion will stretch from Alan Wood Re­serve to Waterview, con­nect­ing Mt Roskill with the north­west­ern mo­tor­way.

The agency says de­sign im­prove­ments will re­duce dis­rup­tion to res­i­dents and com­muters on Great North Rd.

Avon­dale Com­mu­nity Board chair­man Dun­can MacDon­ald is thrilled with the changes and says it is a “win-win” com­pro­mise.

“Th­ese new plans are ab­so­lutely bril­liant.

“There’s got to be a damn good com­pro­mise and this saves a cou­ple of hun­dred houses in Waterview.

“The more un­der­ground the bet­ter,” he says.

“I hope the gov­ern­ment doesn’t put its sticky beak in again and stuff it all up. The agency needs to go ahead and do it.”

Agency board chair­man Brian Roche says there has been a con­certed ef­fort to min­imise com­mu­nity im­pact through a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal ge­ol­ogy.

“Build­ing the tun­nels fur­ther east without a gap be­tween them can be com­pleted within the orig­i­nal project bud­get and is the most cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion for build­ing this sec­tion, while also re­spond­ing well to com­mu­nity con­cerns with the pre­vi­ous pro­posal.

Friends of Oak­ley Creek chair­woman Wendy John is pleased the tun­nel will be con­structed without cut and cover sec­tions in the mid­dle.

But she says she would like to hear more about mit­i­ga­tion and the mo­tor­way foot­print and says there will still be a huge per­cent­age of green space af­fected.

She be­lieves the tun­nel will be 30 to 40 me­tres un­der­ground while the Oak­ley Creek depth is just two to three me­tres.

“That’s a fairly sig­nif­i­cant depth,” she says of the tun­nelling.

“But we don’t know what the stormwa­ter runoff will be or if there will be flood­ing prob­lems. There are a lot of unan­swered ques­tions, a lot of work to do.”

Tun­nel or Noth­ing group spokes­woman Margi Wat­son says the re­vised plan is the wrong so­lu­tion and still has huge en­vi­ron­men­tal and com­mu­nity im­pacts.

“The only win is that they don’t build the tun­nel.

“This is a step back from the ini­tial pro­posal and there’s still a long way to go.”

But she ac­knowl­edges the de­creased im­pact on Great North Rd and con­grat­u­lates the agency for that.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Steven Joyce says he feels for own­ers of all af­fected prop­er­ties but is pleased the com­mu­nity now has more cer­tainty about what will be hap­pen­ing where.

More con­sul­ta­tion is ex­pected next month. Construction will start in midto2011, end­ing by 2016.

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