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Eastern Corridor Road Study Underway

Investigations into the best mix of road and public transport usage and its associated impacts on communities for the Eastern Corridor have got the green light from the Auckland City Council’s transport and roading committee.

The committee decided yesterday – by five votes to three - to approve the first phase of a study to determine the most appropriate transport and land use strategy for the corridor, with particular emphasis on how the city’s communities will be affected by any corridor development.

The Eastern Corridor includes both the North Island Main Trunk Line rail designation and the adjacent transport corridor between Tamaki Drive and Panmure.

The move sees the Council taking the lead on behalf of the city’s residents to determine how the corridor should be used for the future.

The committee recommended that, as the impacts of any transport developments along the Eastern Corridor would predominantly be experienced by Auckland City communities, their concerns must be identified “and take priority over other interest groups.”

It further recommended that the study must not solely concentrate on transport and accessibility issues, but it must include an assessment of the growth and land-use objectives which the Council and the region are seeking to achieve.

The study will include all passenger transport requirements as well as cycling and walking and a diverse range of issues including the effects of the development on sensitive natural environments, community severance and/or cohesion, iwi concerns, including an assessment of the impact on the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park, the Council’s Livable Communities Strategy and relevant plans and legislative requirements.

The chairwoman of the committee, Councillor Catherine Harland, said the Eastern Corridor is a key part of the region’s future transport network, but the committee also had to look closely at what the interests of the community are in the transport debate.

“Our communities are going to be impacted and we need to have that as our first priority,” said Councillor Harland.

“The point of this study is to look at the corridor and to see what we, as Auckland City, want to achieve with that corridor.”

Other areas, such as Manukau City had been pushing for a major roadway through the corridor, but the impact on their residents would be minimal.

Councillor Harland noted that Transit owns a large part of the corridor and if the Council did not take the lead and initiate a study into the best use of the land, it was inevitable that Transit New Zealand would look at it and pursue a major state highway or motorway solution without regard to wider land use or community issues. The Transit NZ Board signalled in a recent meeting with Auckland City that it proposed pursuing the Easter Corridor as a priority.

“Transit New Zealand has a very narrow highway and motorway focus, whereas Council is mandated to consider a much broader range of issues when looking at how we want our city to grow,” says Councillor Harland.

She told the committee that parts of the corridor would need to be used for roading, but the best mix would include rapid transport as a priority “no doubt about it.”

The Mayor, Christine Fletcher, told the committee the council should not be frightened of having an open debate on the best use for the corridor.

“This study is a way of achieving the sort of information we’re going to require before establishing priorities,” she said.

“Quality decisions can’t be made without quality information being available. We will get legitimate criticism from the community if we don’t do that.”

Mrs Fletcher said the study was the best way to control the agenda and ensure that the interests of Auckland City’s communities was paramount.

The committee recommended that the Council’s Manager of Transport Planning, ask Transfund New Zealand for a subsidy to undertake phase one of the study, estimated to cost $200,000 – noting that the study will not proceed if the Council does not get a substantial subsidy.

The committee also recommended the Manager liaise with officers from the Auckland Regional Council, Transit and the Manukau City Council to determine how they want to be involved in the first phase of the study and to resolve project governance and cost sharing issues.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
* Councillor Catherine Harland, tel: 636-8464.

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