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Ports of Auckland supports the eastern expressway

Ports of Auckland supports the eastern expressway

26 May 2004

Auckland was founded on its Waitemata port and, with the thriving seaport right at its heart, the city has grown to become New Zealand’s largest and most vibrant.

Over 173,000 local jobs are supported by business activity related directly or indirectly to Auckland’s international trade. This activity pumps over $11 billion a year into the region and accounts for a third of the regional economy.

Aucklanders’ livelihoods depend on the continued robustness of their international seaport. That robustness in turn depends to a very large degree on the smooth flow of containers.

The eastern expressway is vital for achieving that smooth flow and is an essential part of Auckland’s strategic roading network – which needs to be completed urgently.

Auckland’s freight efficiency has plummeted 40% over the past 10 years, according to figures released at the Freight Summit Conference in February. This is largely thanks to a lack of action on transport infrastructure. The region is in grave danger of suffering further economic decline if key infrastructure plans are not implemented as a matter of priority.

New Zealand’s competitiveness in world markets depends on having the best possible container freight logistics chain. That’s because increasingly these days, products don’t compete – supply chains do. Products can be copied and competitiveness is better assured by the creation of a supply chain that gets products from the factory to the shop shelf in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

A region or entire country becomes less competitive when it doesn’t spend on necessary freight transport infrastructure.

Why the eastern expressway in particular? The eastern expressway is an essential part of Auckland’s strategic roading network because many of Auckland’s biggest importers, exporters, retailers and distribution centres are located out east and they badly need a direct route to the port. These businesses are some of the greatest contributors to Auckland’s economic vitality.

Road transporters inform us that containers are currently trucked to and from the east on an indirect route via the southern motorway, or a more direct route via suburban arterials. Neither of these routes is efficient and on top of that the use of the suburban arterials is unpopular with local residents.

It is estimated that 33,000 container trucks a year travel between the Auckland seaport and the eastern area, which includes Pakuranga, the eastern suburbs and East Tamaki. Well over half these container trucks take an eastern route rather than the southern motorway. Volumes will increase as the economic vitality of the east grows.

The eastern expressway will be much more than just a route to the east. It will provide an alternative route to and from Auckland’s teeming industrial south and will help ease pressure on the over-burdened southern motorway.

Ports of Auckland has invested to improve logistics The East Tamaki area in particular is so important that Ports of Auckland has established an inland port there at considerable cost in order to improve the container freight logistics.

The inland port provides importers and exporters with a shuttle service to and from the seaport. This service is helping to achieve smoother container flows by allowing the trucking of containers outside peak commuter hours – at night and on weekends.

Container trucking outside the normal hours of 7am to 7pm weekdays has increased 60% over the past three years and is now an accepted business practice. This growth includes the proportion of containers trucked after hours and an increase in container volumes.

For the benefit of all Aucklanders, East Tamaki businesses need a transport infrastructure that will enable them to grow. That means a direct route to the seaport.

The Automobile Association has said that if nothing is done by 2021 it will take an hour and a half to drive from East Tamaki to the port. An eastern expressway will cut that to 30 minutes.

We have already seen the benefits of roading improvements with the greatly enhanced approach to the port via Grafton Gully and Stanley Street. Motorway improvements under way or planned will further enhance transport logistics. But none of these projects provides a direct route to and from the east.

An eastern highway was designated in the 1960s and remains an uncompleted section of Auckland’s original master transportation plan.

Should we just “let Auckland choke”? One option, as the thought-provoking economist Gareth Morgan suggests, is to just “let Auckland choke”.

In a recent article titled “Let Auckland choke” Gareth Morgan presented the choice of fixing Auckland’s infrastructure and allowing the region to continue powering the nation, or letting it choke then atrophy as people leave to live in other parts of the country.

Are we going to stand by and let the vitality drain from our dynamic city and region? Is that what the opponents of roading want?

Ports of Auckland supports the view of Mayors Sir Barry Curtis and John Banks that the eastern expressway is much more than a transport project. It’s about energising economic growth and jobs throughout the region.

Geoff Vazey Chief Executive


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