Grafton Gully Upgrade
Auckland City’s Transport and Roading Committee has recommended to the full Council its favoured option for upgrading Stanley Street.
It has endorsed the ‘Below Grade’ option which consists of a new state highway to run down Grafton Gully, parallel to Stanley Street, passing under Grafton and Alten Roads, and Parnell Rise, before connecting with The Strand. On and off-ramps would connect with Parnell Rise and Beach Road. Part of Beach Road would be raised to accommodate the new roadway.
Committee Chairwoman Councillor Catherine Harland says the option supported by the committee has a range of advantages compared to the ‘Viaduct’ option or the ‘At Grade’ option.
“It provides free flow conditions for through traffic which is particularly important for the Ports of Auckland. It provides the best linkages for pedestrians and cyclists, has the least noise and social impacts. Further the option enables Stanley Street to be revitalised as a quality, urban street,” Cr Harland says.
“Overall, it provides the best balance between the state highway objectives and the resulting environmental effects.”
The Transport and Roading Committee rejected the Viaduct option. The consultation undertaken revealed opposition by both the business and residential community to the ‘Viaduct’.
“People are clearly concerned about the significant visual impact of the structure as well as noise effects,” says Cr Harland. “In a city that is growing with more intensified residential and commercial activities, environmental and community impacts are increasingly of concern. Roading solutions today must take these wider concerns into account.”
Cr Harland says the new road would cost between $120 and $130 million to build, making it more expensive than the other options. While Transit New Zealand has acknowledged the advantages that the ‘Below Grade’ option has, under current funding rules it is unlikely that Transit could build the option.
A proposal to jointly apply for the funding shortfall from Infrastructure Auckland was rejected by the Transport & Roading Committee which instead preferred that an approach be made to central government to relax Transfund’s rules. “If Transfund could fund the option most preferred after consultation, as long as it met the minimum benefit/cost ratio which currently applies, being 3.0, then we would be really taking into account community concerns,” says Cr Harland.
The Committee was concerned that an application to Infrastructure Auckland could involve considerable delays or an expectation of funding from Auckland City ratepayers and could set a precedent for a whole range of other strategic roading projects proposed for the city and region over the coming ten years. “Transfund would be ‘let off the hook’ so to speak,” says Cr Harland.
“The community and environmental issues are going to increase not lessen in the future. Sooner or later the government will need to address changing the funding system to cater for these urban intensification issues. This really is just the first example of many projects where this dilemma will be faced.”
The Committee’s recommendation goes to full Council on 27 July.