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Mayors push ahead with Eastern Corridor

Mayors push ahead with Eastern Corridor

The Mayors of Auckland and Manukau cities today expressed their total commitment to building the Eastern Corridor by 2010. John Banks and Sir Barry Curtis say it is “business as usual” despite a statement from the Transfund Board chairman that Transfund may not allocate more money for the required preliminary work.

“We are moving forward with the stage two planning process to identify route options which includes technical work and extensive public consultation,” they said.

“We are seeking from Transfund a contribution towards the estimated cost of $13.1 million for this work, and it is our belief that the money to enable the project to move forward must be forthcoming without delay.”

They noted that Transfund had already committed more than $2 million to the project over the past two years, and the Government is clearly committed to completing Auckland’s long-planned transport networks.

“As an integrated transport corridor with both roading and public transport components – including an under-utilised railway – the Eastern Corridor is clearly highlighted as a key component of Auckland’s transport networks.

“The public are tired of having to put up with Auckland’s gridlock every day of the week knowing that a big part of the solution is to complete the region’s strategic network, including the Eastern Corridor.”

The current cost of congestion to the regional economy is more than $1 billion a year and a lot of driver frustration.

“What the public wants to see is action. They want us to move ahead with urgency and speed. That’s why we have set up special teams to look at alternative funding options, and to explore options to build sections of the corridor early,” they said.

Funding options being considered include private-public partnership, congestion charging, direct toll and regional petrol tax in conjunction with a wider programme to achieve faster completion of the regional networks as a whole.

“It is also obvious that Government wants Auckland to get on urgently and collaboratively with completing its strategic transport corridor as part of its goal of getting New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD.”

The $13 million being sought to progress the corridor can be viewed as an investment with the returns to the region long term as enormous, both in improving public transport and providing an enhanced roading network that will benefit users of State Highway One.

“To this end, government has expressed a need for public-private partnerships, which is the way that we expect the corridor will be built, with Transfund contributing to the seeding costs.

“Each day of worsening gridlock gives urgency to our cause. We do not and will not accept anything that suggests more delay and so we are pushing ahead to action the project,” the Mayors concluded.

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