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Toll proposed on Tamaki Estuary crossing

Toll proposed on Tamaki Estuary crossing


By Aidan Deam

In the near future Aucklanders who want to cross the Tamaki Estuary could be forced to pay a toll to contribute to ongoing road works.

The Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) aims to clean up traffic problems facing residents in eastern suburbs from Glenn Innes to Botany.

The scheme will focus on transport as a whole, including bus lanes on Pakuranga Rd, a flyover at Pakuranga town centre and improvements along Ti Rakau Dr.

A new bridge spanning the estuary has also been proposed and it is hoped that the new route combined with tolling will force drivers to seek out alternative paths.

The overall effect should be a greater dispersion of traffic around east Auckland as most of the scheme’s ideas are aimed at easing traffic pressure.

Some of the ideas involved in the scheme have been around since the 1930s.

“AMETI is the long gestation of other projects or ideas that have been circulating for a while,” says Steve Wrenn, policy analyst for Manukau City council.

According to a recent news letter by the group the improvements are expected to cost around $1.33 billion, whereas the council’s most recent estimate is about $1.5 billion

Mr Wrenn says funding will come from local body council via rates and, like all large scale roading projects, there will be a 50 per cent subsidy from central government.

Most of those funds will come from money gained off the current petrol tax but it is unlikely that these will be sufficient.

“We may have to look at other funding sources such as tolls,” he says.

Not all East Auckland residents are pleased.

Concerned Bucklands Beach resident Zane Smyth is against the idea of tolling, claiming that Auckland infrastructure was flawed from the outset.

“Why should we now have to pay just to get into town because the government waited until crisis point to do something about the traffic problem?”

He has also questioned just how stable the scheme is, pointing out that the last newsletter sent out was in October 2007 and that the 0800 number given for any enquiries into the plan appears to have been disconnected.

However Mr Wrenn says that planning for the project is nearing completion

More formal consultations, resource consents, and progress into funding strategies are expected to be finalised by 2010. Construction should be completed by 2020.

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Aidan Deam is a Journalism Student at AUT

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