Today the Waitemata Local Board are being asked by Auckland Transport to endorse starting construction on two of the three inner west improvement projects that were due to start construction last year, but that Auckland Transport paused following the council elections despite strong community support – with the exception of some very vocal opponents. AT also want endorsement for further pausing the third that helps link the other two together.
Here’s some of the executive summary:
- Improvements to cycling, walking and bus infrastructure along the following routes have been developed under the Urban Cycleway Programme:
- Point Chevalier to Westmere from Great North Road to West End Road via Point Chevalier Road, Meola Rd and Garnet Rd;
- Great North Road between Karangahape Rd and Crummer Road/Grey Lynn Library
- Waitematā Safer Routes including Surrey Crescent-Old Mill Road-Garnet Road (to Meola Rd); and, Richmond Road (from Surrey Crescent to Cox’s Bay Reserve path)
- Work on these projects were paused during 2020 following the Covid-19 emergency budget. These projects are now being reviewed in light of Council’s budget pressures and Auckland Transport is seeking feedback from the local board on whether to progress the projects to construction phase.
- The projects started in 2016 and public consultation was held in 2017 and 2019. A high level of local support was expressed in the formal consultation exercises, with changes to the project designs to address issues raised. A post-covid check-in was undertaken with the public in 2022. Over fifty letters of support were received from within the community and wider stakeholders, and five letters of opposition asking for schemes to be paused.
Fifty letters in support and only six opposed shows pretty clear support given most responses to projects like these are from naysayers.
While the most recent timeline had these projects starting late last year, these projects were originally meant to be completed in 2018 as part of the National government’s Urban Cycleway Programme but AT put them on hold and years long review following opposition from some of the same people still opposing it now.
That the Waitematā Local Board:
a) endorse the construction of the cycling, walking and bus improvements along Point Chevalier Road, Meola Road and Garnet Rd (between Meola Rd and West End Rd)
b) endorse the construction of road safety, cycling, walking and bus lane and bus stop improvements along Great North Road (between Crummer Road and Karangahape Road)
c) endorse the pause in construction of cycle facilities and pedestrian crossing improvements along Richmond Road (between Cox’s Bay Reserve entrance and Surrey Crescent) and Surrey Crescent, Old Mill Road and Garnet Road (south of Meola Rd).
One of the reasons that AT paused the projects last year was a “Pause for instruction from new politicians“. As we covered in our roundup on Friday, Councillor Mike Lee – who also sits on the AT Board – appears to have reversed his position on at least one of the Inner West streetscape upgrades, according to a Facebook post last week.
The post now appears to have been removed. But it signals a welcome shift from his October “taihoa” which called for a moratorium on projects (Point Chevalier to Westmere, the two remaining Waitemata Safe Routes, and Great North Road) that were on the verge of delivery.
Oddly, AT’s briefing recommends proceeding with Great North Road, but pausing the Waitemata Safe Routes in the middle as the work isn’t currently co-funded by Waka Kotahi – even though they were in the original Urban Cycleways Programme, and are in the RLTP and ATAP.
AT should go back to Waka Kotahi and request funding, and if they’re being difficult, they should make that public, just like they did about Puhinui Station a few years ago, especially as these projects are completely in light with council and government priority, they’re shovel ready and have community support.
Our friends over at Bike Auckland have just published a letter along with 38 organisations (including us) calling for these projects to be delivered
Bike Auckland is one of 38 organisations who are today issuing a public call for Auckland Transport to urgently deliver the long overdue inner west street improvements, being the Great North Road improvements, the Waitematā Safer Routes (also known as the Grey Lynn and Westmere improvements), and the Point Chevalier to Westmere improvements.
Bike Auckland previously wrote to Auckland Transport on 18 November 2022 expressing our strongest support for Auckland Transport to continue with the projects as planned. We are aware that many other organisations and individuals have also written, and that the correspondence has overwhelmingly supported the projects.
The organisations joining today’s call include (among others):
- All six major schools along the routes, being Newton Central School, Grey Lynn School, Westmere School, Western Springs College, Pasadena Intermediate School and Point Chevalier School, who last year had a combined roll of over 3,700 students;
- The Grey Lynn Residents Association, the Auckland City Centre Residents’ Group and several community groups in the project areas;
- The Ponsonby Business Association and the Karangahape Road Business Association, who together represent over 1,000 businesses and property owners;
- The Auckland Regional Public Health Service, OraTaiao: the NZ Climate & Health Council and Sport Waitākere; and
- A range of advocacy groups, including the Campaign for Better Transport, Living Streets Aotearoa, Brake Aotearoa New Zealand, Generation Zero, the Coalition for More Homes and Bike Auckland.
The Mayor’s letter of expectation directs Auckland Transport to “deeply understand and respond to what matters most to Aucklanders in transport”. The message from the community has been loud and clear: the inner west projects have unprecedented community support. The projects have been delayed far too long, and they must now be urgently delivered. If Auckland Transport does not proceed, it will be acting contrary to the wishes of the community.
We are alarmed at Auckland Transport’s recent suggestion that it is now seeking to pause or descope the Waitematā Safer Routes project. The inner west projects form a connected network, and the Waitematā Safer Routes are a vital link between the adjoining projects. Dropping the middle project would mean network benefits were lost, and the schools and communities of the inner west would be left disconnected.
The projects are shovel-ready with significant but time-limited co-funding, and there is no good reason for any of them not to proceed. Delaying or descoping them would be utterly irresponsible in the face of overwhelming community support, Auckland Transport’s responsibility to reduce transport emissions and improve road safety, and the extraordinary delays the projects have already faced. If Auckland Transport wishes to confirm government co-funding for the Waitematā Safer Routes, it must do so urgently. It cannot exploit its own failure to seek co-funding as an excuse for non-delivery.
We look forward to your urgent confirmation that construction of all three projects will proceed as planned.
Hopefully today the local board pushes for all projects to start as soon as possible.
Not only have AT departed from their own principles, they now also disappointed all the local Principals, which surely represent a significant and important part of the local community: