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Banks Speech: Wellesley Street Bridge Opening

John Banks Speech: Opening of the Wellesley Street Bridge The Grafton Gully Project Speech notes: Hon John Banks, Mayor – Auckland City 10.30am, Thursday 2 October 2003 Freeflow Public Information Centre

Minister of Transport - The Honourable Paul Swain

Minister of Auckland Issues - The Honourable Judith Tizard

Nearly 100 years ago there was a noisy protest on the corner of Symonds Street and Karangahape Road.

The occasion was the announcement to build the Grafton Bridge.

The Mayor of the day, Arthur Myers Esq - grandfather of Douglas Myers - wanted easy access for the country people of Mission Bay and St Heliers to do business in Auckland.

It is interesting to note that the Ferro concrete bridge cost 40,000 pounds and took three years to build.

Arthur Myers believed in doing things once and doing them right. His mayoralty was short-lived although the Grafton Bridge has stood the test of time.

Nearly a century on and we are gathered today to mark another milestone in this area, another huge inter-generational project.

Close to $300 million is being spent on ‘spaghetti junction’ and the extension of State Highway 16 (SH16) through the Gully in, around and under the Grafton Bridge.

I congratulate Transit and the Freeflow project alliance for their impressive progress which sees the entire Grafton Gully Project ahead of schedule.

I recall being at the sod turning early last year. It was a wet day but it wasn’t enough to dampen anyone’s spirits.

Today we celebrate this new Grafton Gully Wellesley Street bridge, which has taken more than a year to build and will be fully accessible to the public from this coming Monday.

The project construction manager Peter Adye tells me that constructing this geometric designed bridge was a big engineering challenge. It slopes in two directions and spans the width of the Gully, crossing six lanes of motorway traffic. Completing it is a significant milestone in the Grafton Gully Project.

The bridge will provide an efficient link from the central business district (CBD) to Grafton Road and Auckland Hospital, as well as providing new ramps to and from the southern and north-western motorways.

This Grafton Gully Project opens up access to the Port area, providing a strategic link to the motorway network. It also provides a natural link for the future Eastern Transport Corridor.

On the Eastern Corridor, Auckland and Manukau cities together with Transit are moving it through a thorough consultation process, with the first of the stage two public consultation days starting this afternoon. We are on schedule to have a preferred option out in February 2004.

Along with a much-improved central motorway junction and the work around the ‘harbour bridge to city’, the Grafton Gully Project will ease traffic congestion in central Auckland.

Large trucks and private motorists have long conflicted, as have local traffic and motorway traffic.

Every year, grid-locked traffic in central Auckland costs the economy one billion dollars in wasted time and wasted energy. Ten-minute journeys can take more than an hour, leading to increased motoring costs, high levels of pollution and the loss of millions of hours of productivity.

Today is a great day for Auckland. Today reinforces that the region has shifted its focus from one of planning and process to one of action.

The Mayoral Forum is committed to completing our integrated transport network in the next 10 years. Every day we are working with the Government and their officials, with Wellington voicing its commitment to giving us the toolbox to fund the shortfall.

I thank the Transport Minister for his enthusiasm in working with us to find the best solutions, and deliver them, in a timely fashion.

Like us, Paul Swain acknowledges that New Zealand can simply not afford to carry the costly burden of Auckland’s incomplete transport network. Tomorrow is already too late. We all agree we need to go faster and subsequently our transport crisis is being dealt to with a huge sense of urgency.

Doing nothing is not an option. The missing links - north, south, east, west and central - must be completed.

Today we celebrate the completion of a key central cog not only in the SH16 Grafton Gully Project but a key cog in the region’s integrated transport network.

I salute Transit and Freeflow for delivering Auckland City and the region this new Wellesley Street Bridge. Congratulations. I wish you well for the remainder of this project. I look forward to its completion by the year’s end.

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