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Board Seeks To Protect Tunnel Route For Waterview

MEDIA RELEASE

TRANSIT NEW ZEALAND AUCKLAND REGIONAL OFFICE

4 June 2008
Transit Board Seeks To Protect Tunnel Route For Waterview

Transit New Zealand’s Board today selected twin tunnels as its preferred option for a future connection of SH20 at Mt Roskill to the Northwestern Motorway (SH16) at Waterview.

The decision comes after a recent community engagement programme demonstrated strong support for the tunnel option.

Acting Transit board chairman Bryan Jackson said more than three quarters of the 747 public responses made during the two month community engagement process favoured the tunnel proposal, as did the majority of local authorities and interest groups that also commented. Of the 441 responses from within the project area, almost 80 per cent supported the tunnel.

“The community has spoken, we’ve listened, and now we can provide that community with some certainty about the chosen route.”

Mr Jackson said the decision enabled Transit to now prepare applications to councils to secure the tunnel route.

“The Board’s view is that connecting Auckland by completing the Western Ring Route is crucial to the future economic development of the region. At the same time, we recognise that funding for this project has yet to be determined.”

He said the board was aware that along with the general support for the tunnel came some community concerns. These included air quality, the number of lanes in the tunnels, cost and the effects of the project on communities at the interchanges.

“To that end the board has asked for a report to enable a more detailed comparison between four and six lanes and a separate report on the management of tunnel air emissions to benchmark it against current international best practice .

“We recognise that continuing good communications will be critical to working positively with the community. We support the project team establishing a process to engage openly and proactively, particularly on concerns such as air quality, “ he said.

The board has also acknowledged it will be important to work with Auckland City Council, and others on a community focussed process to develop suitable urban design at the interchanges at both ends of the tunnel. This work will look at improved connectivity, enhanced access to an improved coastal marine area and historic sites, replacement of open space as much as possible and ways to strengthen local communities by creating opportunities for future residential and commercial development.

In addition Transit will work closely with regional transport agencies on related transport infrastructure and the development of improved pedestrian, cycle and passenger transport opportunities.

Mr Jackson said the suggestion in responses that Transit reconsider a cheaper ‘surface’ option was not realistic. “There is no simple surface route as SH20 would need to pass either over or under two rail lines; the planned Avondale to Onehunga line and the existing Northern Line, and three major arterial roads.”

The board believed an elevated motorway was not acceptable in terms of environmental and social impacts. The previous ‘cut and cover’ options that were effectively surface options that passed under the two rail lines had already been rejected by the community and the board.

ENDS

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