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Fletcher: Eastern Motorway $4billion or $2billion?

Fletcher: Eastern Motorway $4billion or $2billion?

Invest $4billion and wait 10 years for the return? Or $2billion and enjoy some immediate results?

Chris Fletcher today launched, as part of her campaign for the Auckland mayoralty, a hard-hitting attack on the current council's proposed $4billion Eastern Motorway.

Why, she asks, would any reasonable thinking Aucklander choose to spend $4billion on the Eastern Motorway when the proposal gives no immediate or even foreseeable solution to Auckland's traffic congestion and will even further compound the current roading congestion in the central city.

There is no doubt Auckland desperately needs a comprehensive and sustainable transport solution - one that is affordable and includes both roads and public transport.

"The answer doesn't lie in spending billions of dollars on the Eastern Motorway proposed by the current council.

"The logical and most economically viable solution to Auckland's traffic woes would be a $2billion investment in public transport - half of the outlay for the proposed Eastern Motorway.

"The solution is a combination of an immediate commitment to new and upgraded public transport services with the early extension and upgrading of State Highways 20 and 16. This, with the good work by Transit on the free-flow programme for the central motorway and the completion of Grafton Gully, will make for a major change in the quality of life of Aucklanders. "A fast and efficient extended network of public transport services would include the upgrading of stations, park-and-ride facilities, tracks for capacity and electrified heavy rail. As well, there would be a city-wide, multi-modal system of modern trams (light rail), ferries, buses and bus priority measures (e.g. bus lanes) using the Britomart Station as a central hub with a single integrated ticket across transport services."

Such prudent investment would sustain Auckland for at least the next 100 years and would put to rest the protracted debate on transport which has, despite all the grandstanding, resulted in 'nothing doing' for Auckland's congestion.

It would also allay the fears of many Eastern suburbs residents who are extremely anxious about the future of their homes and communities.

It is no coincidence that some of the 10 top cities in the world in terms of transport - Melbourne, Perth, Vancouver, and Singapore - have made major investments in public transport and all have light rail systems.

Why should Auckland continue to be short changed by politicians who attempt to hogwash its people with quick-fix politics that over-promise, under-deliver and are devoid of immediate solutions?

The people of Auckland, and those for generations to come, deserve a Mayor whose visions are based on economically responsible measures that make the city a vital and enviable place to live, work and play.

John Banks must be challenged now by the citizens of Auckland - before any further funds are committed to a dead-end piece of expensive road. Auckland cannot afford - nor is it ethical - to throw billions of hard-earned dollars at projects like the Eastern Motorway. The city is in desperate need of an intelligent Mayor who is able to see the bigger picture and an enduring solution - and act on it.

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