East-West link mo­tor­way cost tax­pay­ers $51m

Western Leader - - LOCALJOBS - ADAM JA­COB­SON

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.

SUP­PLIED

The East-West Link would have con­nected State High­way 20 at One­hunga and State High­way 1 at Mt Welling­ton.

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