Grow­ing con­cern prompts tree ac­tion

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

The 80-year-old po­hutukawa trees op­po­site Mo­tat on Great North Rd are fac­ing the chop.

They will be re­placed with smaller po­hutukawa to make way for a sec­ond left turn­ing slip lane on to St Lukes Rd as part of the Water­view Con­nec­tion Western Ring Route.

This will lead on to a widened St Lukes over­bridge and two-lane mo­tor­way on­ramp. The pro­posal to cut down the trees has been pub­licly no­ti­fied and an in­de­pen­dent hear­ings com­mis­sioner will con­sider the sub­mis­sions and make the fi­nal de­ci­sion.

Cy­cle Ac­tion Auck­land com­mit­tee mem­ber Mark Roberts doesn’t ob­ject to the over­all plans but wants Auck­land Trans­port to come up with a de­sign that doesn’t come at the cost of these six trees.

He and his niece set up a Face­book page and on­line pe­ti­tion to raise aware­ness of the sit­u­a­tion on June 2. So far the on­line re­sponse has been stag­ger­ing, he says.

‘‘We’ve been amazed by the num­ber of people who’ve signed the pe­ti­tion. Loads of people have left com­ments about the fact it’s a loss of nat­u­ral her­itage just to al­low for more cars on the road.

‘‘To do this sim­ply to al­low for a lit­tle more traf­fic flow a cou­ple of hours a day is just not ac­cept­able. Where does it stop?’’

What’s more they are part of a stand of po­hutakawa planted as far along the road as the Auck­land Hor­ti­cul­tural Cen­tre, op­po­site Mo­tions Rd, Roberts says.

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board mem­ber Pippa Coom says the board is against the re­moval of the trees.

‘‘We’re keen to fight it be­cause they’re re­ally old trees that are val­ued in that en­vi­ron­ment. It’s short term de­ci­sion-mak­ing based on modelling that can be chal­lenged around what’s go­ing to be needed to move people around in the fu­ture.’’

Trans­port Blog edi­tor Patrick Reynolds says the trees are ir­re­place­able and the road widen­ing is a com­plete waste of tax­payer funds.

‘‘They are mas­sively over­build­ing Great North Rd in or­der to sup­port the mas­sive over­build­ing of the mo­tor­way. The ar­gu­ment is that ev­ery­one wants to drive but NZTA data shows... we are in­creas­ing in pop­u­la­tion but we’re not driv­ing more be­cause pub­lic trans­port al­ter­na­tives are slowly im­prov­ing.’’

Auck­land Trans­port should re­tain a sin­gle left turn­ing lane and pri­ori­tise bus move­ment, the Grey Lynn res­i­dent says.

Pon­sonby res­i­dent Tri­cia Reade agrees.

‘‘We must be the only OECD coun­try which is right now cut­ting down trees to sup­port cars. They’re go­ing to re­place them with more po­hutakawa but they’ll be very small. They won’t grow to the same size be­cause there’s no room.’’

An Auck­land Trans­port spokesman says there is no vi­able al­ter­na­tive to re­mov­ing the po­hutukawa.

‘‘This is part of the to­tal plan for the flow of traf­fic in this area and not to build the slip lane will mean that the over­all plan will not be as ef­fec­tive as it can be.’’

Photo: KA­RINA ABA­DIA

Green pri­or­ity: Trans­port Blog edi­tor Patrick Reynolds and Pon­sonby res­i­dent Tri­cia Reade op­pose the re­moval of ma­ture po­hutukawa trees to make way for the widen­ing of Great North Rd.

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