High­way open­ing revs up pro­test­ers

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

Chants of protest could be heard last Fri­day dur­ing a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony that opened the $201 mil­lion State High­way 20 mo­tor­way ex­ten­sion.

The 4.5km route was opened by Trans­port Min­is­ter Steven Joyce while stake­hold­ers, New Zealand Trans­port Agency chief ex­ec­u­tive Ge­off Danger­field, Auck­land mayor John Banks and Ful­ton Ho­gan chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Perry looked on.

Sev­eral pro­test­ers stood be­hind a shield of po­lice and on the Do­min­ion Rd over­bridge chant­ing “shame on Joyce” and “homes not roads” in re­ac­tion to last week’s an­nounce­ment that the fi­nal piece of the west­ern ring route will be a mix­ture of sur­face roads and tun­nels.

Many of the speeches at the cer­e­mony ad­dressed not only the mo­tor­way open­ing, but the Waterview con­nec­tion.

Mr Danger­field said the trans­port agency is com­mit­ted to lis­ten­ing to the com­mu­nity to lessen the im­pact of any ad­verse ef­fects.

“I want to re­as­sure those peo­ple that they will be com­pen­sated fairly for their prop­er­ties at mar­ket value if they are re­quired.”

He said the de­ci­sion was the least dis­rup­tive op­tion that pro­vides the best value for money.

Avon­dale Com­mu­nity Board mem­ber Paul Davie was among those protest­ing.

Mr Davie said too many de­ci­sions have been made be­hind closed doors.

He said his home might be one of 111 strata homes that will sit above one of two tun­nels.

Deputy mayor David Hay ap­proached mem­bers of the Tun­nel or Noth­ing group and said the lo­cal com­mu­nity was pleased with the out­come.

Mean­while, Mr Joyce said the Waterview is­sue has been a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball and ac­knowl­edged not every­one will be happy with the com­bined sur­face-tun­nel op­tion.

“I’m sorry for the im­pact that road will have on the com­mu­nity,” he said.

But he was up­beat about the open­ing of the Mt Roskill ex­ten­sion, say­ing the event was a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone.

“We’re stand­ing on more than just a four-lane road. The project has been fu­ture­proofed for ded­i­cated bus lanes and a rail­way line.”

He said when com­plete, it will cre­ate an air­port link that will take the pres­sure of air­port traf­fic off lo­cal roads.

“Mt Roskill is one piece of the jig­saw, just down the road is an­other.”

Mr Perry said the team has worked hard to en­sure the qual­ity of the job as well as min­imis­ing the im­pact to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“The team mem­bers can proudly point to this road and say: ‘I built that’.”

Photo: RHI­AN­NON HOR­RELL

Loud and clear: Pro­test­ers make their voices heard at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the State High­way 20 ex­ten­sion last week.

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