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Modified Corridor now a credible project

21 July 2004

Modified Eastern Transport Corridor now a credible project

The Eastern Transport Corridor (ETC) project has been modified to a credible development that can be staged, be substantially financed by private sector finance (PPP) and will create economic value far beyond its cost, the mayors of Auckland and Manukau cities, Hon John Banks and Sir Barry Curtis, said in a joint statement.

Both mayors are encouraging the Auckland Regional Council to give greater urgency to upgrading commuter rail infrastructure and services in the Eastern Transport Corridor.

Reporting progress following today’s meeting of the Eastern Transport Corridor Steering Group, the mayors said the next formal announcements from the project partners will cover progress on staging, property acquisition and funding issues.

Earlier this month Auckland City agreed to a modified project along a route that follows the already largely designated alignment, including crossing Hobson Bay without bus lanes and maximising the potential of the existing rail line.

The Manukau City Council is scheduled to confirm its preferred route options at a meeting on 29 July.

Immediately following the Manukau Council meeting, the two mayors will send a letter to property owners that follows up earlier communication. The letter will provide details of the routes that the cities have discarded and confirm the decisions taken for moving the project to its next stage.

Both mayors today reconfirmed the importance of the two cities working together to relieve traffic congestion in all the suburbs of east Auckland by building a viable roading network and encouraging affordable rail services.

On staging the project, the mayors indicated that the next phase of work will likely involve each city taking a lead role on a specific component of the corridor’s development, and in particular: firming up options relating to Te Rakau Drive for public transport improvements and/or motorists linked with further investigation of the Allen’s Road route as already proposed to Manukau City improving the Reeves Road intersection and Pakuranga/Panmure Bridge sections and linking to new roading north towards Tainui and St Johns firming up options for roading improvements between Mt Wellington/ St Johns and ultimately across Hobson Bay to link into the central city at Tamaki Drive accelerating improvements to the existing rail line infrastructure and services between Britomart and Panmure, linked with improved local bus services in the eastern suburbs.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of giving residents certainty about our determination to improve transport infrastructure and services for people and businesses in the eastern suburbs,” said the two mayors.

“Regardless of the October local government election, we strongly believe the overwhelming majority of citizens want improved access to and around the Glenn Innes – Panmure area. We are getting on with it.”

On property acquisition, the mayors noted that because the project had been modified, especially in the Auckland City section, considerably less land would require to be purchased. Much of the currently designated sections comprise land already owned either by Auckland City or Transit.

To avoid future costs associated with possible development of land needed for the project, the steering group today recommended that Auckland City specify a land purchase funding strategy for the project, including an allocation for priority land purchases in the current year.

On funding, the mayors reported that feedback from a recent visit to Sydney to assess the potential for private sector investment in the project had been very positive.

“We are committed to attracting the private sector to take a key role in the project,” they said.

A work programme confirming staging, funding including private sector participation, route protection and land acquisition is on track for reporting to the August Steering Group meeting.

ENDS

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