Auckland Transport & the NZ Transport Agency took the heat off themselves on Wednesday when they canned work on major road links south of the Manukau Harbour “for at least the next decade”.
They said providing better connections for freight in Auckland’s industrial hub of Onehunga-Penrose would release early benefits for east-west-related investments.
The agencies made their intentions to create an east-west link well known, and the intention to tie in with Ameti (the Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative, introduced in 2004 when a change on the Auckland City Council resulted in the grander eastern corridor being ditched). But late last year local communities criticised the agencies for consulting business & transport interests – and not the communities.
Respect Our Community Campaign chairman Roger Fowler said: “Democracy & commonsense have prevailed over ‘motorway madness’ at last.”
Outlining the new focus, Auckland Transport key agency initiatives group manager Rick Walden said: “The work we’ve done to date supports focusing our efforts to the north of Manukau Harbour. This is likely to solve a number of transport-related issues in the economically significant area of Auckland.
“Our focus on the north side is the key priority for our 2 organisations for at least the next decade, and no new major road links will be progressed on the south side of the Manukau Harbour between State Highway 1 & State Highway 20 at this stage. This will be welcomed by communities in the south who have expressed concerns regarding the potential impacts of the east-west link.”
Mr Walden said investment throughout the city would be required to meet anticipated growth: “We’ll continue to work closely & collaboratively with communities to find the best solutions to maximise our public transport infrastructure, as well as enhancements to existing roads before any new roads are considered.”
The NZ Transport Agency’s acting Auckland highways manager, Steve Mutton, said evidence highlighted the economic importance of the Onehunga-Penrose area: “This area is Auckland’s industrial heartland, employing some 60,000 people, and it continues to grow. Ensuring that freight has safe & efficient connections to & from the state highways is a key priority for us.
“Improvements being considered for the Onehunga-Penrose area provide better access for freight & commercial vehicles to the state highway network from this heavy industrial area, while keeping other road users safe.
“Our studies show that many of the benefits can be realised without major roading investments to the south side of the Manukau Harbour.”
Mr Mutton said further work would be required to determine the preferred option & any likely impacts: “We’ll continue to work with our stakeholders & customers as these investigations progress, to make sure we get the best possible solutions in place for local communities & Auckland as a whole.”
Down at ground level, Mr Fowler welcomed the decision: “This is a major victory for ‘people power’ as the communities of Mangere, Otahuhu & Wymondley have united in an unprecedented, massive campaign to protect their neighbourhoods from unnecessary destruction by the Government plans to bulldoze a motorway through the area.
“About 7000 locals signed petitions protesting the plans, and over 300 prominent community leaders voiced strong opposition to the motorway proposal. 2 campaign newspapers have been letterboxed throughout the entire area by teams of volunteers, and hundreds of angry residents attended a series of protest meetings demanding that the motorway plans be abandoned and that our communities be respected. Democracy & commonsense have prevailed over ‘motorway madness’ at last.”
Attribution: NZTA, Auckland Transport & campaign releases.