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Road To Nowhere Threatens Better Projects

Tuesday 9 March 2004

Road To Nowhere Threatens Funding For Better Projects

The latest plans for the Eastern Corridor are hugely expensive, won't ease congestion and would stop us spending on real transport solutions, says Bruce Hucker, leader of the City Vision group of Auckland City councillors.

Commenting on the council's release of the latest Opus and BERL Eastern Corridor studies, he said: "This project has escalated from an estimated cost of $460 million promised by John Banks a couple of years ago to $3.2 billion. That's nearly seven times more and who will pay? Private ratepayers, tenants and business people.

"The Eastern Corridor, on which John Banks has staked his mayoralty, is purely a supply side response to traffic congestion. It's like offering relief from obesity by telling you to loosen your belt."

Dr Hucker said: "Auckland needs to bite the bullet on traffic congestion and drive through the options which will fix it long term. That includes both completing the real strategic highway links to take pressure off the Auckland isthmus and giving priority to early, serious improvements to public transport.

"The Eastern Highway wouldn't do anything to reduce congestion but, worse, it would swallow up money desperately needed for other purposes such as completion of the State Highway 20 connection to the Northwestern Motorway. That project provides genuine cost benefit and, with the Upper Harbour Highway under construction, it's a strategic alternative to the Harbour Bridge.

"Proposing a busway alongside the present railway defies the principles of good transport planning", he said. "The busway sets up the bus and rail to compete rather than having buses feeding off the railway as they should."

The highway option finishing at Orakei, " is a road to nowhere putting pressure on the need for an additional harbour crossing", Dr Hucker said. "John Banks talks about a tunnel from Mechanics Bay to Esmonde Road, Takapuna, but that would come with a price tag of an additional $2 billion."

The $3.2 billion option of tunnelling under Hobson Bay and under Parnell at Brighton Road would require major purchases of expensive property, he said.

"The enormous funding requirement has no buy-in from Transfund and no apparent public private partnership proposal. John Banks talks about a $5 toll but that wouldn't be enough to fund it and a toll is an incentive not to use it.

"This $3.2 billion is money much better spent elsewhere."

ENDS

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