Have a say on East West Con­nec­tions

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

The pre­ferred route for the East West Con­nec­tions pro­ject is out for con­sul­ta­tion.

But opin­ion is di­vided on whether build­ing an ex­press­way is the best so­lu­tion to traf­fic woes be­tween One­hunga and Pen­rose.

When com­bined with lo­cal road­ing im­prove­ments the to­tal cost of the pro­posed four-lane ex­press­way on the north­ern side of the Man­gere In­let is es­ti­mated at more than $1 bil­lion.

New bus lanes be­tween Sylvia Park, Man­gere and Otahuhu will cost about $35 mil­lion.

The joint NZ Trans­port Agency and Auck­land Trans­port pro­gramme aims to im­prove freight con­nec­tions in the area and bet­ter con­nect State High­way 1 to State High­way 20.

The One­hunga-Pen­rose in­dus­trial hub con­trib­utes $5 bil­lion a year in gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and the East West Con­nec­tions pro­ject is iden­ti­fied as one of the top three trans­port pri­or­i­ties in the Auck­land Plan.

But Gen­er­a­tion Zero spokesman Dr Sud­hvir Singh says build­ing a new road is the wrong move.

‘‘While we agree this area is in need of some road­ing im­prove­ments, we be­lieve the fo­cus should be on more af­ford­able lo­cal road­ing in­ter­ven­tions.’’

It also shows a lack of fu­ture proof­ing for rail, Singh says.

‘‘This road makes the im­por­tant rail to the air­port pro­ject even more dif­fi­cult as sev­eral new roads will pass above the cor­ri­dor.’’

Trans­port Blog editor Matt Lowrie says the ex­press­way is ba­si­cally a ‘‘mini-mo­tor­way’’.

‘‘There is an is­sue in the area that does need to be ad­dressed. But what they’re do­ing is tak­ing a sledge­ham­mer to crack a nut ap­proach.

‘‘This is the sort of think­ing that oc­curred in the 60s and is still go­ing on re­gard­less of what peo­ple want.’’

The pro­ject in­cludes widen­ing Neil­son St to four lanes. The im­pact of this should be eval­u­ated be­fore de­cid­ing whether to build a new road, Lowrie says.

Na­tional Road Car­ri­ers chief ex­ec­u­tive David Aitken says the new road is nec­es­sary.

‘‘It’s go­ing to free up con­ges­tion and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency in this area. If they had just im­proved Neil­son St it wouldn’t have changed a lot.’’

But he wants con­struc­tion to start sooner than the 2021 es­ti­mated start date.

‘‘This has been go­ing on for years. They’ve done study af­ter study. It’s time to ac­tu­ally get on and build it.’’

Maun­gakiekie-Ta­maki Lo­cal Board chair­man Si­mon Ran­dall says the board is broadly sup­port­ive of the pro­posed ex­press­way.

‘‘We sup­port the im­prove­ments to Neil­son St but it’s not go­ing to ad­dress the wider is­sues of the move­ment of freight in that area.’’

Maun­gakiekie-Ta­maki coun­cil­lor Denise Krum is keep­ing an open mind.

‘‘I’m not sure the cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion on the One­hunga end is the right one so I will want to hear what the public thinks and draw down into al­ter­na­tive op­tions.’’

Over­view map of the pro­posed East West Con­nec­tions pro­ject.

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