New motorway project gets off the ground
A new streamlined process will be used to get the Waterview Connection motorway project off the ground. The New Zealand Transport Agency announced on Wednesday that the connection will be considered under a new national consenting process.
It will replace the usual two-step procedure of a council hearing fol- lowed by an Environment Court hearing, and will instead either be a single hearing or a direct referral to the Environment Court.
The agency is continuing geotechnical studies and design work and hopes to lodge an application by June with the Environmental Protection Authority.
“I’m pleased to see that NZTA is seeking to use this provision to ensure community involvement in this sensitive project while keeping to the completion date of 20152016,” says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.
He says reports released earlier this week confirm the December alignment change will reduce the number of properties affected at no extra cost.
But Mt Albert MP David Shearer says while he is pleased the realignment has been confirmed, the new process must not mean local residents are excluded.
“The government must be extremely careful that the new process it has brought in does not deny local people their fair say on a decision that will have a huge impact on their lives,” he says.
Agency regional director
for Auckland and Northland Wayne McDonald says while completing the route is crucial for the country, at a local level there is no easy way to achieve it.
“Any major infrastructure project built in suburban Auckland will always be challenging and this one is especially so because the route to connect the highway network has never been clearly defined.”