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Finally! A strategy to unblock Auckland gridlock

MEDIA RELEASE

29 August 2002


Hon John Banks QSO
Mayor of Auckland City

Sir Barry Curtis
Mayor of Manukau City


From the Mayor’s Office


Finally! A strategy to unblock Auckland gridlock


Moving the Eastern Transport Corridor project a step forward represents the most significant development for the Auckland region’s growth and prosperity since the building of the Harbour Bridge 40 years ago, said Mayor of Auckland City John Banks and Mayor of Manukau City Sir Barry Curtis.

“The Eastdor Report released today is an excellent start to the Eastern Corridor project. It proposes a balanced and sensible approach, which includes public transport,” said Mayor of Manukau City Sir Barry Curtis.

“Every Aucklander knows that the region is suffering huge traffic problems because we have an incomplete network, and unless we move with urgency to solve the problem we run the risk of endless traffic chaos that destroys the Auckland dream as a great place to live, invest and do business,” said Mayor of Auckland City John Banks.

They said: “What we need to do to reduce congestion is now very, very obvious – complete the triple bypass. If common sense has told Auckland to get on with building the Eastern Corridor we now have updated traffic demand statistics that clearly establish we should have started the project years ago.
Eastdor’s report fronts up to the big question of ensuring the Eastern Corridor project retains flexibility to accommodate a third harbour crossing.

The report clearly shows that what is built in the corridor must contribute to the ultimate completion of the region’s transport network.

“It is better to do the job once and do it properly,” said Mr Banks.

“Under the current plans the only way for eastern traffic wanting to get across the harbour will be either along spaghetti junction or via the Eastern Corridor onto State Highway 16 at Grafton Gully. There is no effective bypass without a third harbour crossing,” he said.

In taking the project forward, both Mayors said they strongly advocated consideration includes funding the project under the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements which parliament is soon to put in place,” said Mr Banks.

They also expressed strong determination to move the project forward taking full account of Auckland values. “This is more than just a transport project. It’s about moving Auckland forward in an open and inclusive way,” said Mr Banks.

“We must maximise the project benefits to the regional economy and minimise adverse impacts on local communities. We must go out of our way to protect and enhance the built and natural environment,” said Mr Banks.

“If we are smart with this project, we will not just make local roads safer but also bring benefits to sensitive and historical environments such as Hobson Bay, Orekei Basin and Judges Bay. We can tidy up some of the mistakes of the past in the way we have treated our environment,” said Mr Banks.

“Better public bus and train services are a priority for the Auckland region, but research shows they will not be enough to deal with Auckland's transport problems in the future. Completing the regional motorway network is also needed, with the Eastern Corridor being a key part of that,” said Sir Barry.

The Mayors strongly reaffirmed a determination to build a joint venture team tasked to move the project forward with completion in five years as the aim.

Sir Barry said the route should be a regional one as it will benefit the whole of Auckland. “For their part, Manukau residents are tired of the frustrating and wasteful delays and bottlenecks as they drive across the region, and I am certain whatever option is chosen will be a vast improvement on what we have now,” he said.

“There will definitely be some impacts on some neighbourhoods alongside the corridor route but I believe these impacts can be managed in conjunction with consultation with communities and households affected by the proposals,” said Sir Barry.

“When Auckland first agreed on a regional transport network 25 years ago, the population was less than 600,000. We now have 1.2 million, and growing at the rate of a Dunedin every four years, but haven’t built the network we require,” said Mr Banks.

The Mayors said their shared mission the other cities of the region must be to complete the core network in the next seven years. As well as getting on with the Eastern Corridor we are working with our partners to:
- Speed up completion of the Western bypass;
- Upgrade spaghetti junction links to the Port, downtown, Auckland hospital and universities;
- Extend heavy rail into Britomart and Manukau City CBD;
- Double track the rail line to Waitakere City, upgrade stations and improve security and access;
- Upgrade ferry and bus services;
- Complete a North Shore – Auckland rapid busway;
- Provide a co-ordinated regional traffic management system.

By doing these projects over the next seven years, we give Auckland a real chance to lift its economy and reinforce its value as the place to be – live, invest, work and do business, they concluded.

ENDS

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