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Major motorway milestone

Major motorway milestone

Transit New Zealand is celebrating the first major project achievements since the launch of its Auckland State Highway Strategy three years ago. At a function at the Grafton Gully Project site Alan Bickers, Chair of the Board of Transit New Zealand said Auckland was already benefiting from the completion of the Puhinui Interchange, the Grafton Gully Project and Stage 1 of the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ, Spaghetti Junction).

Dignitaries joining Mr Bickers at the celebration included the Hon Judith Tizard, Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues, Associate Minister of Transport, and Cultural Affairs and local MP; Hon Mark Gosche, MP for Maungakiekie; Gwen Bull, Chairperson of the Auckland Regional Council; Catherine Harland Chairperson of the Regional Land Transport Committee; Peter Mills, Chairman of Freeflow as well as other representatives of consultants and contractors. Ms Tizard also unveiled an 80 metre-long artwork “Maumahara mo Waiparuru - Remembering Ancient Pathways” designed by Caroline Robinson reflecting the history of the Grafton Gully.

Mr Bickers said it was a good time to celebrate the success of all the projects and the completion, except for final touches, of the Grafton Gully Project.

“This is a most significant occasion as it marks an extraordinary achievement. It is three years almost to the day since I launched the Auckland State Highway Strategy. Nothing much had happened for Auckland roads in the previous 10 years and there was a general response of ‘Don’t hold your breath’. I’m pleased to say that you can breathe easier now: we are delivering what we promised.

“Since then both the $14.5 million Puhinui Interchange on State Highway 20 the $67 million Grafton Gully project have been completed. Stage 1 of the $55 million Central Motorway Junction is well underway.

“Not only have we done what we set out to do then, but more is coming. There is $400 million worth of construction projects underway in the Auckland region to improve roading capacity, relieve congestion and make way for future public transport initiatives,” he said.

Mr Bickers paid tribute to all the people and agencies who had contributed to the achievement.

“These projects really got a big push with the government’s announcement of the Moving Forward package in February 2002, backed up by funding. This enabled Transit to prioritise projects other than by their benefit cost ratio. That system did not work in Auckland because safety was not an issue: ‘You don’t get killed in a traffic jam.’

“Some time ago I described this process as a fly-wheel that once it got moving, would be hard to stop. We don’t want it to stop until the job is done. Applying this much pace to this size of projects takes money and resources. We knew it would absorb resources at a high rate, and that’s clearly the case.

“I want to acknowledge the industry sector, that is, the Professional Services and the Contracting industry. Transit New Zealand along with Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner, Fletcher Construction and Higgins Contractors, are the Freeflow alliance. This has been a successful way of doing things.

“The Puhinui Interchange was built under budget, under time. The Grafton Gully Project has been delivered under budget and under time. Congratulations. I want to acknowledge the skill and ability of all those professionals involved to do this. You have been able to marshal the necessary resources to meet this huge workload in Auckland,” he said.

Mr Bickers said the regulatory arms of the Auckland and Manukau city councils, and Auckland Regional Council had brought a co-operative approach to getting the job done. Transfund New Zealand had also worked in partnership he said. He also thanked the people from the community and from iwi who had put in a lot of work to make their views known, and to give advice from their store of local knowledge.

Mr Bickers said the solution to Auckland’s transport problems had to be the result of a multi-modal and multi-agency attack.

“Efficient transport systems, whether they are road or rail, will come about when all modal networks are working efficiently. Then we will have efficient public transport and efficient local networks. An excellent example of working together to produce transport efficiency is the Traffic Management Unit. This joint initiative links the traffic management technologies of Transit and the Auckland, Waitakere, Manukau and North Shore cities,” he said.

Wayne McDonald Transit regional manager said all projects have been completed ahead of time and under budget.

“The $140M Stage 2 of Central Motorway Junction, which is the upgrade of the existing motorway junction of SH1 and SH16, is the largest single roading construction project ever let in Auckland, and we expect it to be finished by April 2006.

“This will bring increased capacity on the motorways, and the links completed between the Northern and the Northwestern motorways and the Northern Motorway and the port via Grafton Gully. As well, there will be seven on-ramps, nine off-ramps and four ‘motorway-to-motorway’ connections. There will be more than 750 metres of new viaducts and bridges built. There will be 80,000 tonnes of asphalt laid on existing and new highways, and more than two kilometres of retaining walls constructed,” Mr McDonald said.

Also fully underway in the new year will be the construction on the Greenhithe Section of the SH18 Upper Harbour Corridor project. This section stretches five kilometres from Paul Mathews Drive in Albany to the Greenhithe end of the Upper Harbour Bridge. Stage 1 began earlier this year on the construction of a $37M duplicate bridge across the upper harbour which will link to the Stage 3 Hobsonville section of the project.

The Greenhithe section of motorway is the second stage in the creation of the $250M Upper Harbour Corridor which will provide a 15km, four-lane motorway between North Shore and Waitakere cities. It will also extend the Northwestern Motorway (SH16) a further five kilometres from Westgate to Kumeu.

“When completed, this motorway will link the North Shore and Waitakere cities, reducing congestion and reliance on the Auckland Harbour Bridge,” he said.

Mr McDonald said the project has special significance as it represents a start on the northernmost section of the strategic Western Ring Route that will eventually join the Northern Motorway to the Northwestern Motorway, State Highway 20 and the Southern Motorway. In doing so it will provide an alternative route to State Highway 1, enabling road users to avoid the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the central city motorways. “When this happens, we will see real relief for Auckland’s traffic congestion,” he said.

“The only remaining links to be completed in the Western Ring Route are the SH1 to SH20 section through Manukau, the Mount Roskill and Avondale sections of SH20 and the Hobsonville section of the Upper Harbour Corridor.”

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