No light yet at end of the tunnel
Residents of Waterview, Mt Albert and Avondale are anxiously awaiting the final decision on the Waterview connection to complete the State Highway 20 ring route.
The government is currently considering surface alternatives after estimates for a tunnel increased from $1.89 billion to $2.77b.
New Zealand Transport Agency northern regional director Wayne McDonald says there up to 10 options and the new government needs to take time out to review them.
But community members are upset that plans seem to have taken a backward step after they ac- cepted a tunnel option last year.
Avondale Community Board chairman Duncan Macdonald says he has been involved with the process for a number of years.
“Frankly after all the work we have done, we have come to the conclusion that the tunnel is the best and cheapest option.
“There is no way there can be anything else.
“The population of this ward would not stand for it. It is the tunnel or nothing – the public have accepted it.”
He says a surface option would destroy large chunks of Mt Albert and Waterview.
The Auckland Business Forum this week submitted a report to Transport Minis- ter Steven Joyce outlining the benefits of the surface option and the potential savings.
“More than a billion dollars can be saved by abandoning the proposed SH20 Waterview connection tunnel for a surface option,” the report says.
“The revised cost, in a range between $950 million and $1.2 billion, provides for considerable attention to environmental and community impacts that are not present in the Mt Roskill project,” says forum chairman Michael Barnett.
He admits there will be some major construction challenges with the surface option – having to go over or under the northwestern rail line, New North Rd and Oakley Creek.
“There are also some significant community concerns that will need to be taken into account.”
He says that a mainly surface option would ensure value for money for taxpayers and road users.
But Mr Macdonald disagrees, saying that the tunnel is the cheapest option and that the new estimated cost is wrong.
“The job was already priced. The tunnel was the cheaper option and now other jobs have been added into that cost.
“The Auckland Business Forum should keep out of it, it is nothing to do with them.
“The surface option would see the destruction of green space.”
Waterview resident Margi Watson also says the revised cost of the tunnel option is incorrect.
She says the surface option isn’t even an option and would be destructive to the community.
“The healthiest and most environmentally sound option would be the tunnel.
“If we have to accept this then I would be more comfortable with a tunnel option.”
She says a group of residents met last week and have grave concerns about the impact of a surface option.
“NZTA has spent so much time listening to communities and the new Transport Minister Steven Joyce has just thrown that away. Nine years worth of consultation.”