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Announcement Sends Rodney Reeling

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Announcement Sends Rodney Reeling


Rodney District is reeling after today’s announcement by the government that the district’s showcase roading project, Penlink, is unlikely to receive government funding in the current financial year.

The release of the National Land Transport Plan shows that the Penlink toll road has been designated as a category 2 project. Only category 1 projects will receive funding.

It had been expected that the Government would have paid up to 58% of the $216 million project. The private sector and road users were to fund the remainder through development contributions and electronic tolling.

District mayor Penny Webster says she is bewildered by the decision.

Her council has long argued that vitally needed development for southern Rodney was dependent on the early completion of Penlink.

A planned Knowledge Economy Zone in Silverdale was forecast to contribute an additional $313 million to the Rodney’s GDP every year and 3870 new jobs over the next 10 years.

In addition, progress on housing developments in Silverdale is now expected to be restricted.

“Whilst the Silverdale development will continue, its dependence on Penlink, means that we cannot deliver the growth that is planned for the area. The growth was well planned, supported the regional growth strategy and was agreed by the NZ Transport Agency” says Mrs Webster.

Penlink would have provided a vital second access to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and diverted traffic from the adjacent and increasingly clogged Hibiscus Coast Highway.

Mrs Webster says communication between her council and central government had been extremely positive and she certainly thought the government saw a compelling case for the project.

The decision seems also to be a slap in the face for the local community, which in repeated surveys has shown massive support for Penlink as a toll road.

Local MP, and Speaker of the House, Dr Lockwood Smith, has also gone on record several times supporting Penlink. And Penlink had received a “green light” at regional level when it was recommended for category 1 status by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. This status was changed by the Transport Agency during its prioritisation process.

“With the full weight of that support and the economic advantages it would have brought Rodney and the region as a whole, it’s hard to reconcile this delay,” says Mrs Webster.

However, Director Infrastructure Murray Noone, refuses to concede that the case for government funding of Penlink is over.

“The project is the clearly the best option to provide alternative access to the Peninsula. And it enables economic growth by improving traffic conditions through Silverdale and at the Silverdale Interchange.”

“Category 2 status is disappointing as it not only delays the project but also the much needed road-widening on Whangaparaoa Road. I can’t imagine the public will be happy with that. And nor are we.

“But Penlink is still on the page at least. It is still the right solution and now is the right time to start building it. We are determined to do whatever we can in conjunction with government to bring this important project home.” Mr Noone says.


ENDS

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