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Alternatives to eastern expressway considered

Alternatives to expressway to be considered in new Eastern Corridor study

The Auckland City Council transport committee has approved a more detailed second phase study into the Eastern Corridor – with options other than the recommended six-lane, multi-modal expressway to be considered.

The Phase 2 Study is dependent on support from the council’s corridor study partners Manukau City and Transit New Zealand, and the necessary Transfund subsidy for the study.

The committee today (Wed 23rd) decided to support the $13 million Phase 2 study of the corridor as a follow-up to an earlier study by Eastdor Consultants.

But it sent a clear signal that the expressway recommendation of Eastdor Consultants is not a foregone conclusion as the sole basis for the second study.

The next study phase will begin with a workshop of the Eastern Corridor Steering Group and Eastern Corridor Implementation Executive. These groups include councillors, community board representatives and officers who will, in the first place, develop a brief for Phase 2.

“It’s absolutely crucial that we don’t rush headlong into a $13 million study without a proper brief and without due consideration of the region’s rail investments,” says Cr McKeown.

“We must contribute to proper consideration of the long-term benefits for the whole community, not just those with roading interests at heart.”

Eastdor Consultants undertook a high-level strategy study of the Eastern Corridor for the council earlier this year and concluded that the currently proposed development of public transport alone in the corridor would not satisfy demand. Eastdor recommended a six-lane, multi-modal expressway, including two rapid transit lanes, along the corridor which stretches from the CBD to Botany Downs in Manukau City.

Cr McKeown says he accepts the first point, but says that the second – the development of a six-lane, multi-modal expressway – must be assessed against alternatives.

He says a cautious approach needs to be taken in establishing the ground rules for the scope and the brief of both the assessment of any scheme, and its environmental effects, before the second phase study contract is let.

A special workshop will be held to consider the scope and brief of the Phase 2 study which includes a scheme assessment and an assessment of environmental effects and a specimen design.

The workshop comes after a recommendation from Cr McKeown, who felt fundamental issues in relation to the corridor – particularly into community benefits and protection – have to be considered before the more detailed study is undertaken.

Cr McKeown says his committee supports the protection and development of the Eastern Corridor as a major transport route.

However, he says the committee also acknowledges that the $460 million “enhanced case” development recommended by Eastdor may not deliver the quality of development the city’s communities require.

Phase 2 costs, after Transfund subsidies, will be shared between Auckland City (42%), Manukau City (33%) and Transit (25%).

Cr McKeown acknowledged Transfund’s high level of support in Phase 1 and hoped that that would continue. Transfund provided 75% of the funds required for the Phase 1 study.

Manukau City Council’s transport committee meets tomorrow (Thursday, 24th) to make a recommendation to the full council as to whether or not to support the move to the Phase 2 study.

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