Residents come to aid of pohutukawa over cars
The 80-year-old pohutukawa trees opposite Motat on Great North Rd are facing the chop.
They are to make way for a second left-turning slip lane on to St Lukes Rd as part of the Waterview Connection Western Ring Route. This will lead on to a widened St Lukes overbridge and two-lane motorway onramp.
The proposal to cut down the trees has been publicly notified and an independent hearings commissioner will consider the submissions and make the final decision.
Cycle Action Auckland committee member Mark Roberts doesn’t object to the overall plans but wants Auckland Transport to come up with a design that doesn’t come at the cost of these six trees.
He and his niece set up a Facebook page and online petition to raise awareness of the situation on June 2. So far the online response has been staggering, he says.
‘‘We’ve been amazed by the number of people who’ve signed the petition. Loads of people have left comments about the fact it’s a loss of natural heritage just to allow for more cars on the road.
‘‘To do this simply to allow for a little more traffic flow a couple of hours a day is just not acceptable. Where does it stop?’’
What’s more they are part of a stand of pohutukawa planted as far along the road as the Auckland Horticultural Centre, opposite Motions Rd, Roberts says.
Waitemata Local Board member Pippa Coom says the board is against the removal of the trees.
‘‘We’re keen to fight it because they’re really old trees that are valued in that environment. It’s short-term decision-making based on modelling that can be challenged around what’s going to be needed to move people around in the future.’’
Transport Blog editor Patrick Reynolds says the trees are irreplaceable and the road widening is a complete waste of taxpayer funds.
‘‘They are massively overbuilding Great North Rd in order to support the massive overbuilding of the motorway. The argument is that everyone wants to drive but NZTA data shows . . . we are increasing in population but we’re not driving more because public transport alternatives are slowly improving.’’
Auckland Transport should retain a single left-turning lane and prioritise bus movement, the Grey Lynn resident says.
Ponsonby resident Tricia Reade agrees.
‘‘We must be the only OECD country which is cutting down trees to support cars. They’re going to replace them with more pohutukawa but they’ll be very small. They won’t grow to the same size because there’s no room.’’
An Auckland Transport spokesman says there is no viable alternative to removing the trees.
‘‘This is part of the total plan for the flow of traffic in this area and not to build the slip lane will mean that the overall plan will not be as effective as it can be.’’
Go to change.org and search ‘‘Save the six pohutukawa trees on the corner of St Lukes Rd and Great North Rd’’ to sign the petition.
Green priority: Ponsonby resident Tricia Reade and Transport Blog editor Patrick Reynolds oppose the removal of mature pohutukawa to make way for the widening of Great North Rd.