No light yet at end of the tun­nel

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

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.”

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