Published 29 May 2006
Action Hobson councillor Richard Simpson, chairman of Auckland City Council’s transport & urban linkages committee, tried to lock the eastern motorway permanently out of eastern suburbs infrastructure thinking tonight. He lost.
While only one councillor, Bill Christian from the Tamaki ward, still professed hope that this motorway would be built, others weren’t prepared to irrevocably cancel any option. Not, at least, before some imminent research & design scoping is carried out.
Cllr Simpson elaborated on staff proposals for preliminary design work, putting more of the detail into his own recommendation to the committee and including support for public transport, travel demand management and bike & pedestrian access to public transport nodes.
Then he added clauses for investigation aimed at excluding motorway use from the corridor designation north of Glen Innes (through to downtown Auckland)
Cllr Simpson also set a timetable for these investigations â€“ one report by August, another by next February.
But Bruce Hucker, City Vision councillor, deputy mayor & the architect of the council’s direction in this term, moved an amendment taking the recommendations back to those of the staff, dealing with contractual arrangements up to $1.2 million for design work on the northern section of Ameti (the Auckland Manukau eastern transport initiative, which replaced the previous council’s eastern transport corridor a year ago) and a combined Auckland-Manukau $1 million on route definition between Panmure & Pakuranga, in the Ameti central section.
Cllr Hucker’s amendment was carried 7-5 and that’s the recommendation that will go the full council when it meets on Thursday 22 June.
Arta & Manukau express alarm
The Auckland council’s staff, and the joint Ameti steering group, clearly wanted the corridor designations retained until investigations were completed.
Arta (the Auckland Regional Transport Authority) was alarmed. Chief executive Alan Thompson wrote to the city council last week saying land in the corridor might be needed for expanded freight & passenger rail services.
Manukau City Council’s new chief executive, Leigh Auton, also expressed alarm in a letter sent to his Auckland counterpart today: “It is clear from the work that our councils & Arta are undertaking together on the Ameti project that transport solutions for the medium to long term are still to be determinedâ€¦.. At the very least the designations should be retained until further investigations as to their potential to accommodate further transport improvements are completed.”
Cllr Hucker & Citizens & Ratepayers Now leader Scott Milne both tried to undermine Cllr Simpson’s efforts by suggesting he’d headed off on a tangent of his own. “What I detect is, there was no discussion (before Cllr Simpson wrote his recommendations) with anybody who knows what we want to do on this council,” Cllr Milne said. But Cllr Simpson was quick with his response: “I’ve had 2 briefings with officers and also discussions with other people who have expertise in this matter.”
Cllr Milne said Cllr Simpson’s recommendations were “the worst sort of zealotry” and Cllr Simpson had also not realised that if the committee agreed to them that would invoke a round of regional consultation because they were in conflict with the regional land transport policy statement.
After the meeting, Cllr Simpson rejected my suggestion that if he’d phrased his recommendations differently, focusing on getting the project under way in a manner to his liking and leaving aside mention of the motorway, he might have won support: “I think we phrased it perfectly. So it’s a really sad day,” he said.
He said the corridor was “being treated like an emergency valve. We’ve got to say the future of Auckland is about public transport.” He was disappointed his idea of breaking the issues into 3 â€“ the design work, the designation (or changing thereof) north of Tainui Rd, from Panmure to the cbd, and outcomes from tightening the designation â€“ had been killed off. “They’re the things that we’re trying to move the city forward on,” he said.
For Cllr Simpson, the proposed improvements to existing arterials (widening Mt Wellington Highway, the blue line on the photo) and proposed new arterial route through to Glen Innes (the dotted red line) are the start of what could still be a grand motorway if the motorway designation isn’t cancelled. “It’s car-centric. It’s going to be the ruin of this city.”
The end point in Glen Innes is some distance from the suburb of 8000 people being built in the former Lunn Avenue quarry, and that new housing would be some distance from both shops & a railway station.
Planning manager says designation should stay
The council’s acting group manager, transport planning, Allen Bufton, said the regional transport authority was identifying & evaluating public transport & travel demand management options and draft plans should be available in the next month. He said the designation should be maintained so those options weren’t foreclosed.
Mr Bufton said the committee had previously recognised the need to investigate local roading improvements for the business, university & residential developments which could see Tamaki get 30,000 more residents & 10,000 jobs by 2015.
Without better access, that growth isn’t being welcomed by everybody. The Eastern Bays community board agreed in April to tell the council it didn’t support further rezoning in the Lunn Avenue quarry “until such time as a full transport plan has been developed & consulted on, which also addresses the issue of substantial developer contributions to subsidise public transport.”
And Citizens & Ratepayers Now councillor Doug Armstrong put the proposition: “Those developments shouldn’t take place until a proper transport solution is worked outâ€¦.. Existing residents are starting to realise these developments are going to ruin the quality of life in their ward. We think (my grouping), things like the quarry development should not go ahead until we’ve got a solution. We have not got a solution. There are safety issues, fumes issuesâ€¦..”
Fellow Citizens & Ratepayers Eastern ward councillor Toni Millar said moving the Auckland Netball courts to the Merton Rd end of the quarry site had worsened eastern suburbs congestion, and not just on Saturdays â€“ 5pm games midweek were a cause of increased congestion.
At the same time, she said, one opportunity to reduce congestion was being blocked: “Kiwi Income has money for a railway station at Sylvia Park. Transit & Arta don’t want to give them permission. You’re going to have 2000 people working at Sylvia Park using their cars, not public transport. That is stupidity.”
Sylvia Park fronts Mt Wellington Highway, and Mr Bufton said the proposal for widening that road wouldn’t entail the usual cribbing of a couple of metres, almost into residents’ bedrooms: “We’re looking at a boulevard approach. We take enough land to create a living environment. The people who remain will have a decent standard of living.”
Mr Bufton made 2 other points about congestion, cost & speed, one of them about Arta’s TravelWise programme, which was “aimed at reducing car use but not mobility” and had reduced Auckland car travel by 1.18 million km/year. Over one-third of children attending TravelWise schools walked or biked to get there, and 62,600 employees & students in Auckland were involved in travel plans. But, he said, “there’s been almost no uptake in the Ameti area”.
Perhaps ironically given the time it’s taken to make very little progress so far, after a $3-4 billion proposal (with no funding lines specified) was ditched following the change in council majority in 2004, Mr Bufton said the council didn’t intend to seek a Land Transport NZ subsidy for its preliminary design work because the work was ready to start and a funding application would delay it for 4-6 months.
However, despite that seeming irony, despite the defeat of Cllr Simpson’s timelined proposal and despite the defeat of a motion from Cllr Milne acknowledging growth factors and seeking a report on their effects by August, transport general manager Stephen Rainbow said a timeline of future council engagement could be produced for councillors in July.
The programme, including consultation, wouldn’t start until the detailed design work was done, but would highlight for the public when things are going to happen.
Shorter version of this story: Simpson loses bid to clean motorway out of eastern designation
18 September 2005: Hucker paper outlines transport vision
13 July 2005: Chance to flay the soul-less developer
17 December 2004: Councillors agree to retain corridor designations
19 November 2004: Action Hobson councillors have powerful transport & urban form roles
19 November 2004: Manukau looks on forlornly as Auckland ditches eastern highway
5 September 2004: Court grants partial order allowing Landco to start quarry development
27 August 2004: Modified corridor option worse for Glen Innes rejuvenation
4 August 2004: Council to extend eastern corridor designation
30 June 2004: Councillors agree with scaled-back eastern corridor
12 May 2004: Tunnel out as preferred eastern corridor unveiled
20 March 2004: Eastern transport corridor: My first batch of questions
20 March 2004: Eastern transport corridor: Putting it in context
13 November 2000: Council rejects private quarry zone change
Attribution: Council agenda, meeting, story written by Bob Dey for this website.