East-West link motorway cost taxpayers $51m
The controversial East-West Link (EWL) motorway cost taxpayers $51 million before being sent to the scrap heap.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) clocked up the hefty price tag in planning the EWL since 2014, figures released under the Official Information Act show.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland mayor Phil Goff confirmed on Tuesday the project would be cancelled.
‘‘We acknowledge that there are congestion issues that mean we need to re-look at how we respond to the problems that generated the original West Link plans,’’ Ardern said.
The EWL was a $1.85 billion priority roading project of the last Government, connecting State Highway 20 at Onehunga and State Highway 1 at Mt Wellington, with a four-lane highway. It was still in the design phase and had just gone through a lengthy consultation process.
It drew heavy criticism after Infrastructure New Zealand calculated it would cost an estimated $327m per kilometre, equalling the world’s most expensive road ever.
More than $39m was spent on professional services, which included all planners, engineers, lawyers, and experts hired for the planning and consulting phases of the project.
Construction of stage one improvements to Onehunga totalled more than $10m.
This package of work included the widening of SH20 between Neilson St and Queenstown Rd, and replacing the old Neilson St rail bridge.
Internal project costs such as catering, travel, phones and venue hire amounted to $487,183. Stakeholder engagement, like open days and newsletters cost $368,625.
Cancelling current plans for the motorway was a key priority for the Greens.
Associate Transport Minister
‘‘We are far better off changing course at this point. ’’
Julie Anne Genter, MP
and Green MP Julie Anne Genter said it was ‘‘incredibly irresponsible’’ of the previous National government to spend so much money on the project.
‘‘We are far better off changing course at this point,’’ Genter said.
‘‘Money can now be prioritised in far better projects like completing the rapid transit network and accelerating light rail to the airport.’’
A board of enquiry is expected to release a draft decision on the EWL on November 14.
The East-West Link would have connected State Highway 20 at Onehunga and State Highway 1 at Mt Wellington.