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Toll road proposal condemns Waitakere

27 November, 2006

Toll road proposal condemns Waitakere to ever worsening road problems - Council

Transit New Zealand has been told that Waitakere City Council will not support its proposals to toll the North-Western Motorway, which will “condemn the city to ever worsening traffic problems”.

The Council is also asking its residents to send written submissions to Transit, rejecting the toll proposal.

A meeting of the Council today sent a unanimous message “in the strongest possible terms”, that the toll proposal worked against the interests of the city, its business sector and its residents and that it was tired of being marginalised.

“We are the fifth biggest city in New Zealand and a huge proportion of our population commutes to other parts of the region, every day,” says Mayor Bob Harvey.

“What we need more than anything else, is a much bigger business sector that can employ more people in Waitakere itself. But, for businesses to see us as a viable option, they need access and that is the one thing this proposal doesn’t provide. In fact, this proposal works against us,” he says.

Mr Harvey says the toll proposal gives no access to the toll lane along the North-Western Motorway or at Westgate.

“Some 100,000 vehicles use the North-Western Motorway, every day, including our commuters and business traffic in both directions. There is no provision for most of that traffic to get a better deal. In short, this proposal condemns this city to ever worsening traffic problems, ” he says.

“The toll proposal has huge costs in administration and interest. These costs are to a large extent being imposed on businesses which would be charged double the rates. This largely reduces the benefit of the time saving in using the new motorway. The region needs to encourage business.“

“How can we build our business sector and cut congestion by employing people close to home, with proposals like this one which works against us?”

“Waitakere joins the Auckland Regional Council and the Regional Land Transport Committee in opposing the toll. The solutions for Waitakere are solutions for the region and they are obvious. Despite that, we see no plan that gives Waitakere a fair deal. What it comes down to is that Waitakere is being marginalised again,” Mayor Harvey says.

Mayor Harvey says that the region needs to explore alternatives that better address a complex situation. Options include a regional congestion charge (which Waitakere favours), a larger government contribution or even a regional petrol tax.

Mayor Harvey says that he cannot remember a time when there was such unanimity between councillors and community board members, as there was in opposition to the toll proposal.

“The Community Boards gave the Council their unanimous support for the its opposition to the proposal and today’s Council meeting was unanimous. I’m not surprised. People are perplexed and angry that we work so hard for the good of the region and then we have obstacles put in front of us at every turn.

“The whole situation is desperately unfair to the people of Waitakere – many of whom are in the less-well-paid category. Through no fault of their own, they have to travel across the region to get work but the costs of commuting cuts into already small household budgets. And they get to spend less time with their families – which can have its social costs.

“These are decent, hard working people who are crying out to the politicians of the region and of the Government, for some relief from their problems. They pay their taxes and their rates. They carry their share of the burden. Surely they’re entitled to expect something back from a Labour Government that claims to have jobs and social justice as its top priorities?” Mayor Harvey says.

“I hope Waitakere people write to Transit in their thousands, before the deadline of 5pm on December 4 and say no to this completely unfair and impractical proposal.

“I also hope they turn up to the Massey Community Board’s public meeting on Thursday, at the Marina View School Hall. They’ll have their chance to hear what Transit has to say – and to tell Transit what they think,” Mayor Harvey says.

***ENDS***

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