Auck­land trans­port snub riles cham­ber

Eastern Courier - - LOCALJOBS - STAFF RE­PORTER

Busi­ness lead­ers are fum­ing af­ter the main road to Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port was left off Na­tional’s $10.5 bil­lion election trans­port pack­age.

The party’s Roads of Na­tional Sig­nif­i­cance (RONS) plan an­nounced last Sun­day de­tailed up­grades to 10 ma­jor roads across the coun­try, in­clud­ing high-pro­file cases such as the Manawatu Gorge.

How­ever, the Auck­land Cham­ber of Com­merce head says the de­ci­sion to not in­clude an up­grade to the Auck­land air­port 20B route in the RONS plan was ’’shock­ing’’.

‘‘It’s a shock­ing omis­sion that a fast fix of Auck­land air­port’s traf­fic night­mare is still ap­par­ently not a top pri­or­ity,’’ Michael Bar­nett says.

The air­port’s grid­lock events late last year high­lighted the ur­gency for up­grades to State High­way 20B, he says.

At the time, Labour’s trans­port spokes­woman Sue Moroney said the amount of traf­fic to and from the air­port was a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment. ‘‘It’s ridicu­lous that our big­gest city is com­plete chaos when it comes to traf­fic. We seem like a third world coun­try when we don’t have pub­lic trans­port op­tions,’’ she said.

The wors­en­ing con­ges­tion prompted the cre­ation of a task­force to tackle the prob­lem, com­pris­ing Auck­land Air­port, Auck­land Trans­port and NZTA.

But de­spite im­me­di­ate changes, as well as long-term projects - such as the $140 mil­lion up­grade of SH20A and a new bus lane - be­ing ac­tioned, Bar­nett says the air­port route needs to be in­cluded.

‘‘Where is the ur­gency for ac­tion?’’

The Cham­ber of Com­merce called for the project to be de­clared a road of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance last year, with Bar­nett say­ing the warn­ing signs have been ap­par­ent for years with the root cause be­ing ‘‘Auck­land’s rapid growth suc­cess’’.

‘‘Auck­land’s rep­u­ta­tion as a modern world city will be on the line. In 2021 Auck­land will host APEC and an Amer­ica’s Cup de­fence.’’

Both the road up­grade to four lanes and pro­vi­sion of a busway to a mod­ernised Puhinui Rail­way Sta­tion need to be com­pleted by then, Bar­nett says.

The re­cently pub­lished up­dated Auck­land Trans­port Align­ment Project (ATAP) says con­struc­tion of 20B is un­likely to oc­cur be­fore 2021.

‘‘That’s too late and un­ac­cept­able,’’ Bar­nett says. ‘‘[This] is a project that will ben­e­fit the NZ econ­omy, not just the air­port.’’

Na­tional’s trans­port spokesman Si­mon Bridges didn’t re­ply to Bar­nett’s crit­i­cisms di­rectly but says the party has com­mit­ted to ATAP – which in the first decade in­cludes a com­pre­hen­sive $25.9b in­vest­ment.

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