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Treat Completion Of Auck. SH Network As Singular

AUCKLAND BUSINESS FORUM

Media Release

21 March 2004

Transit New Zealand Called On To Treat Completion Of Auckland’s Strategic State Highway Network As A Single Urgent Project

In a “wake up” submission to Transit New Zealand’s 10-year Plan, the Auckland Business Forum wants the plan to include a work programme with construction start and finish dates for six unbuilt sections of the agreed strategic roading network to be resourced as a single “call in” project to be completed by 2011.

If funding is a problem, borrow the money. The Forum say that the $800 million annual benefit to Auckland’s economy which will be generated from building the western ring route is justification enough for fast-forwarding construction using borrowed funds.

The Transit’s plan agrees that:
- Completing the roading network is “critical” to Auckland’s economic development, assisting traffic safety and improving the access and mobility of people and goods around the region;
- Most of the unbuilt sections are ranked under new transport legislation as having “high urgency and seriousness;” and,
- Most have the highest benefit-cost ratios of any projects in New Zealand.

But Transit’s Plan doesn’t walk the talk. Despite the high urgency and high Benefit-Cost ranking, many of the key projects needed to complete Auckland’s strategic network have construction start dates well into the future, 2009 and beyond. That’s a disgrace to Transit’s claims to be addressing the problem with urgency and unfair to the people and businesses of Auckland who are calling for a solution to daily gridlock, say the Forum.

The six key projects the Business Forum want grouped and called in as a single package would enable both the western Ring Route and the upgrade of the southern motorway in central Auckland to be completed by 2011. They are:
- SH20 – Mt Roskill Extension, which Transit said would be started this summer but is not yet started – no reasons for the delay are mentioned in the plan;
- SH20/1 - Manukau Extension, also supposed to start this year;
- SH20 – Manukau Harbour Crossing (Mangere Bridge) widening, no start planned for at least another 5-6 years;
- SH20 – Avondale section, not planned to start for another 6-7 years;
- SH1 – Harbour Bridge to City (HBTC), not planned to start for another 6-7 years;
- SH1 – Newmarket Viaduct widening, also not planned to start for another 5-6 years.

Under Transit’s 10-year Plan, there is no evidence that the region’s number one problem – the billion dollar cost of congestion and the endless frustration for Aucklanders – will be effectively reduced.

In other recommendations, the Auckland Business Forum:

- Urge the Transit Board to instruct the Chief Executive to take strong personal ownership for completing the core network in 5 years and put in place a monitoring system to enable measurable milestones to be reported monthly to the Board.

- Requests the plan include a work programme for extending the basic network by actioning projects on which there has been considerable investigation undertaken over the past 10 years, including:

- 1) The 3rd Waitemata Harbour Crossing: A high quality steering group and internationally experienced project manager should be appointed without more delay

- 2) The Eastern Transport Corridor: Given the undisputed strategic importance of the ETC’s roading component to the future growth of the regional (and national) economy, the Forum recommends that Transit New Zealand take over responsibility from Auckland City for the current transport corridor designation from Glen Innes to Hobson Bay.

In our view, just as comparable overseas cities have invested billions of dollars into providing modern, efficient roading networks in the past 15 years, the bald facts are that the highest priority for the region and what Transit can best do to assist Auckland’s economic development (including to improve productivity, safety, air pollution, access and mobility etc) is to implement the strategic roading projects detailed in this submission as fast as possible.

ENDS

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