Tunnel vision fades
THE government has scrapped funding for a tunnel through Waterview that would have completed the western ring route, despite opposition from the local community.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced yesterday the government won’t fund the $2.7 billion project because it would require borrowing to complete it.
The New Zealand Transport Agency was yesterday considering three cheaper alternatives, a mix of surface roads and some under- ground roads, that could link State Highway 20 with the northwestern motorway, costing between $1b and $1.4b.
An announcement on its preferred option is due today.
“My preference is for a Waterview connection that can be delivered at a fair price to the country with minimal ongoing impact on the community,” Mr Joyce says.
But opposition parties and residents claim the government’s figure of $2.7b is inflated.
Waterview resident Margi Watson says anything other than the tunnel will have a destructive effect throughout surrounding suburbs.
“It’s very backwards thinking by the government. Cheap is often nasty and this is cheap and nasty.”
She says the possibility of covering more sensitive parts of the route isn’t good enough.
Waterview Primary School principal Brett Skeen says he’s unsure what a scaledback option would mean.
“Even with the tunnel we were talking about relocating the junior school up to the other end of the school.”
He says a partially open motorway would mean more noise, pollution, traffic and fewer houses in the area, potentially affecting the number of students.
“We’re hoping a covered bit will be at our end to take a lot of the noise away. Then we’ll deal with ventilation.”
National’s Mt Albert byelection candidate Melissa Lee is promising to help those who have to move out of their homes to make way for the motorway.
“I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. I will be there to support those affected,” she says.
Labour candidate David Shearer says an open motorway will have a negative effect on residents.
“The overwhelming preference for people is the tunnel that’s not as disruptive.”
He says changing the plan yet again isn’t fair on local residents.
Greens co-leader and Mt Albert candidate Russel Norman says completing the western ring route should be shelved, with the money invested into public transport.
“You could make a huge dent in public transport problems with that kind of money.
“Let’s see down the track if we need the tunnel. We would never support an above ground option.”
Act candidate John Boscawen says connecting SH20 to the northwestern motorway is essential, but favours a design that would see it moved east at Waterview, away from houses.
At a meet-the-candidates forum being held tonight the public will be able to question candidates on their vision for the ring route.
The meeting takes place in the Beatrice Faumuina Gold Theatre at Unitec from 7.30pm. Entry is from gate 4 off Carrington Rd.