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