Yesterday I showed you the plan being pushed by one local business group as an option for the East West Link. From many angles it was really horrific but when it comes to social impact, the official Option 4 as described below would probably be even worse.
We learned about the official options in June this year when Auckland Transport presented to the Council’s former Transport Committee. It was a helpful presentation because it finally gave us some insight into the different options that were being looked at for this project. One of the options outlined in the presentation was what’s known as “Option 4”. It’s shown below and apart from the route, what’s important to note are the key problem areas identified in the red explosion shapes.
When the implications of this option became clear there was quite a lot of community disquiet, including from Mayor Len Brown, who said that hundreds of homes shouldn’t be sacrificed for the project. There was also a One News item on the project a few days ago (click on the photo to go through to the video). Notice Auckland Transport say they will consult with the community around the middle of next year, that’s later than when the government will apparently be making a funding decision on the project which raises serious questions as to how much real consultation there will be.
We had initially thought that the uproar meant this option was basically a non-starter (reinforced by the fact that it’s actually a long way away from the problem areas, as shown in the map above). However, the “Project Auckland” pieces earlier this week seemed to include a concerted effort to focus on the East West Link project, which concerns us that perhaps Option 4 is not yet dead and buried.
So let’s have a look more closely at its route using the Council’s GIS viewer to get an idea of what would be impacted upon. First a few assumptions:
- Required corridor width of around 60 metres which is consistent with the width of SH20A
- Consideration of likely interchange locations (following what’s in the image above)
- Full motorway to motorway interchanges at both SH20 and SH1
Let’s start at the Airport end:
To enable the links with SH20 and SH20A we see most of Mangere Centre Park being taken over. From there I’m expecting the route will follow an old and now non-existent designation towards the North East (it’s easy to spot if you look at the property boundaries). This almost isn’t surprising as I’ve also heard that for a while now the highway network team within the NZTA have been re-energised by the governments support and have been busy pulling out all of old plans to see what else they could get away with.
In terms of property impacts, if we’re just looking at the section west of Archboyd Avenue I see around 150 houses directly in the path of the motorway. Perhaps most significantly of all, the proposal would divide the Mangere East community – which is one of the most deprived and densely populated parts of Auckland.
Tracking further to the northeast, we can see where the motorway would roughly go next:
The impact on houses in this section is slightly less than before because we start to get into an industrial area. Nevertheless, by my calculations this section would involve the demolition of around 50 houses in the area west of Savill Drive (the road running northwest to southeast through the aerial above) and the demolition of around another 20 houses in the area directly east of the railway line. Clearly there would also be an impact on the industrial land and there’d need to be some major bridge/viaduct to get over the railway line and Savill Drive.
In the next section it’s a bit more difficult to interpret where Auckland Transport’s presentation suggests the route should go – and our impact on the neighbourhoods, schools etc. ramps up again. Here’s a best guess, including an interchange with Great South Road shown in blue:
Obvious areas of significant impact include on Otahuhu College – which loses its playing fields to a giant motorway – and on the large number of residential properties in this area which would need to be demolished. A quick count suggests that for this section alone that could reach around 100 west of Otahuhu College (a remarkably dense little area when you look closely) and then around another 80 between Otahuhu College and East Tamaki River – potentially more to mitigate the effects of the interchange with Great South Road).
After a bridge across the Tamaki River we come to the interchange with SH1 (approximate and likely overly conservative estimate of the extent of the motorway to motorway link is shown in blue) and the link with the existing Highbrook Drive. In essence, the impact of the motorway on this area is the completely destruction of the community of Wymondley including the local primary school:
The total number of houses lost in this section of the project is around 130 – it would be much more except this is actually a really low density area. As I said before, Wymondley Primary School would be demolished as part of the motorway to motorway interchange under this option.
Overall we see a total of around 530 houses in direct line of the proposed motorway, plus quite a few schools. That’s a huge impact – especially as Auckland currently has a pretty significant housing shortage. But perhaps the greater impact is when you consider where the project goes – right through the heart of many of Auckland’s most deprived and most fragile communities. Such widespread demolition, the enormous severance effect, the destruction of schools, the removal of open space in places like Mangere, the complete removal of the Wymondley community… the list goes on.
There is no doubt this is a bad project. It will be enormously expensive and worse it doesn’t actually go near where the problems are as all of the other information so far released describes the issues as being further North. In fact it seems to so completely miss the point you have to wonder why it is even an option at all. When you look at the map of everything being proposed (first image) the only explanation I can think of is that this is basically being designed as a motorway to get the residents of the Howick and Pakuranga area to get to the airport faster.
In addition to its cost and destruction it will also just put more pressure back onto the core of State Highway 1 between the city centre and Otahuhu (by directing airport to city traffic that way rather than via the Waterview tunnel) and most of all it will cut a swathe across a part of Auckland that needs our help – not complete destruction. In fact, because of its enormous environmental and community impact it’s probably even worse the Additional Harbour Crossing project. That’s one hell of a dubious honour.