Have a say on East West Connections
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.