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Eastern Transport Corridor, finally more certainty

MEDIA RELEASE
Hon John Banks QSO
Mayor of Auckland City

Sir Barry Curtis
Mayor of Manukau City

12 May 2004


Eastern Transport Corridor – finally more certainty

The Mayors of Auckland and Manukau cities, Hon John Banks and Sir Barry Curtis, today reconfirmed their commitment to building the Eastern Transport Corridor sooner rather than later following a defining steering group meeting which made significant resolutions on the corridor’s broad alignment and what transport it would accommodate.

“Today is about mode, alignment and form… scale, staging and funding. We have more focus on this project than ever before in its 70 year history. The reports have been written and all the technically feasible options have been canvassed. We have arrived at the political decision-making process,” said Mr Banks

“Today is a celebration. Sir Barry and I are upbeat about the resolutions decided upon. We can finally start giving the public the certainty they’ve been asking for. We can also reveal that the cost of corridor will be substantially less, not more. The scaremongering and dishonest second-guessing is over,” said Mr Banks

“We now have some practical and realistic answers about where the corridor should go, what should be on it, and how best to get there,” said Sir Barry.

Over the past two months the steering group has worked on the Opus International’s recommendations and has received the Berl and Deloitte reports. The steering group today made significant decisions on what is perceived as the most contentious part of the corridor – Hobson Bay.

“At the Auckland City end, Opus International left the politicians with two options: In short, to traverse Hobson Bay or tunnel under Parnell. I was an advocate for the tunnelling option. However, it has become increasingly obvious that it is just too expensive, too tough, too disruptive, and too technically problematic,” said Mr Banks.

“We believe that what should traverse Hobson Bay should be a four-lane expressway. We don’t support any proposition of huge infrastructure across Hobson Bay and past Judges Bay. The expressway is appropriate, sensible and feasible.

“We believe the expressway should follow the path of the existing doubled tracked railway line. We don’t believe there should be bus lanes across Hobson Bay. Instead, we think the existing rail should be given every opportunity to first prove itself. I am committed to electrification,” said Mr Banks.

The Auckland City Mayor said the expressway across Hobson Bay would be at grade and designed to create minimal visual intrusion. It would provide access to SH16, feed into the port and CBD, and will lend itself to a third harbour crossing.

Mr Banks said he remained committed to a boardwalk around the bay’s edge, improvements to tidal flow and upgrades to the marine environment, and the establishment of a world-class rowing course on Hobson Bay.

“The upshot of today’s decisions is that we will not need to acquire as much property as once thought, and we will save close to $1billion by not tunnelling and by dropping the bus lanes across Hobson Bay,” said Mr Banks.

Sir Barry Curtis said he is pleased at the latest proposals for the corridor as the changes will substantially reduce the cost of the project.

"Public transport will be a large component of the corridor. We will now be working closely with the ARC, which is responsible for funding and running public transport in the region, to provide an efficient bus and train service. It is clear that it's not necessary to have both trains and buses running alongside each other on much of the route, and we anticipate having bus connections from the eastern areas ending at Panmure, and connecting with trains between Panmure and downtown Auckland City.

"I also believe that alongside planning the corridor route we must introduce network tolling in a ring around the region's major roads and motorways. This will serve three purposes: manage congestion on overcrowded routes, encourage more people onto public transport, and raise funds for future transport improvements. Network tolls are used successfully in many places around the world and I believe it is an essential development for Auckland. We simply have no alternative,” said Sir Barry.

“The Eastern Transport Corridor as it now stands is more attractive to international investors, and they will tell you as much. We see the project as a classic candidate for a public-private partnership funded largely by tolls along the 27 kilometres of the corridor. Today we are much closer to realising that proposition,” said Mr Banks.

The Mayors said priorities in going forward would include the development of a route protection and property acquisition strategy, as well as a funding strategy. There will be considerable discussions with the ARC on public transport, including rail electrification, and work around network tolling will be accelerated.

In June the steering group’s recommendations will be put to the respective council’s transport committees and Transit New Zealand’s board.

ENDS

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