Normally organisations don’t make announcements late on the last Friday afternoon before Christmas unless it’s about something they don’t want much coverage of by the media. Last Friday the NZTA made an announcement that would fit in that category – they’re now going to try and obtain consent for the East-West Link. This is the $1 billion+ project that will create a new barrier between to the water right at a time when we’ve just spent nearly $30 million to fix the foreshore on the other side on Onehunga. It also comes right after Panuku Development Auckland announced that Onehunga would be one of their top priorities including the redevelopment of the Onehunga Wharf.
The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport have taken another step towards construction of the East West Connections project, confirming that the preferred option will go ahead to the next stage.
The project, which is one of the top three transport priorities for Auckland, will now start gathering the necessary planning approvals and consents to protect the route between Onehunga and Mt Wellington.
This follows a wide range of feedback received in July on the preferred approach. The project will improve connections into and out of Onehunga-Penrose and also speed up bus travel times between Mangere, Otahuhu and Sylvia Park.
“A team of consultants has now been engaged to start the planning and consent phase of this key project,” says the NZ Transport Agency’s Highway Manager Brett Gliddon.
“People will also have more opportunities to provide further input and feedback as the design is developed.”
The Transport Agency plans to apply to the Environmental Protection Authority for the Notice of Requirement to obtain the necessary land and approvals for the project later in 2016.
At the same time, the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are planning to start work in early 2016 on a package of early improvements. These are aimed at providing some early benefits to freight and public transport users on both the motorway and local road network.
Auckland Transport spokesperson Andrew Scoggins says this will include upgrades needed for the introduction of the new south Auckland public transport network. This incorporates an upgraded Mangere town centre bus station and new bus stops in Otahuhu town centre.
“Auckland Transport and the Transport Agency will also begin improving journeys for drivers moving around busy Onehunga local roads, starting with four laning a section of Neilson Street.”
The Southwestern Motorway will also be widened to four lanes in each direction between Queenstown Road and Neilson Street and bus shoulder lanes will be added all the way to Kirkbride Road towards the airport.
As Cam pointed out well in this post recently, Option F which is what most closely resembles the final option they’ve chosen appears to fail when an incremental benefit-cost ratio is calculated.
As I’ve said before, this project is like trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer. Absolutely some parts of the existing road need to have some money spent on it but over a billion?