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Underground option preferred

Underground option preferred to widening Victoria Park viaduct

The Auckland Waterfront Advisory Group and the St Mary's Bay Association have joined forces in calling for Transit NZ to reconsider plans to widen the Victoria Park viaduct.

Instead, both organisations favour a below ground option to improve links between the Harbour Bridge and central city motorways.

Transit announced on November 13 its preferred option for the project was to widen the existing viaduct across Victoria Park.

In a joint statement today, AWAG chairman Malcolm Latham and St Mary's Bay Association chairman Tony Skelton, said Transit NZ must put community, civic and environmental concerns ahead of an expedient, low cost solution.

"Victoria Park Viaduct is a blot on a beautiful landscape. It's time it went," their statement said.

"Rather than widen the existing route, we believe the best, long term solution would be to move the traffic below ground.

"The community, which already suffers noise and pollution caused by more than 150,000 vehicles per day using the harbour bridge, should not be subject to even more intense traffic.

"The whole area between the harbour bridge and Princes Wharf is currently under study, with visionary concepts emerging that will allow all of Auckland to benefit from long term redevelopment of this important area. In time, the public and community should be able to share use of this waterfront area with the vibrant marine and fishing industries as well as other possible users.

"The highly successful Viaduct Harbour shows that proper planning and execution can achieve the best of a working port combined with a civic waterfront.

"But that long term vision would certainly be compromised by widening the existing viaduct and motorway.

"Imagine the benefits for the city and region if the overhead viaduct was removed altogether, and through traffic was moved out of sight underground."

Both groups acknowledged that a tunnel or trench could cost more, but also felt new legislation provides more options for funding that should be investigated.

They supported a move by the Auckland Regional Council, which also prefers the below ground option, to urgently convene a workshop to ensure the solution adopted by Transit NZ fits a broad community vision.

· AWAG is an advisory group set up by Ports of Auckland Ltd, Infrastructure Auckland, Viaduct Harbour Holdings Ltd and America's CupVillage Ltd to consider options for possible future redevelopment of the area between Princes Wharf and the harbour bridge. Its work is being supported by the Auckland City Council.

· The St Mary's Bay Association Inc. represents residents within St Mary's Bay and adjoining districts.

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