Tun­nel vi­sion fades

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Scott Mor­gan

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.

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