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Push on to build Eastern Corridor by 2007

Push on to build Eastern Corridor by 2007 business tells Councils

Auckland businesses overwhelmingly want Auckland and Manukau cities to complete the Eastern Corridor in a way that includes integration of a motorway with public transport options.

Strong support is also revealed for building the corridor as a toll road and giving consideration to tunnel options to reduce environmental impacts, despite the prospects of costs rising significantly.

Based on an internet survey of members of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce over two working days last week with a respondent base of 750 businesses, 90% said Auckland and Manukau cities should push on to build the Eastern Corridor by 2007. Eight percent (8%) of respondents opposed building the corridor.

Eighty-seven percent (87%) supported completion of the corridor in a way that integrated the motorway with either the existing rail (upgraded) or a dedicated bus lane.

Of the 87%:
· 49% supported Auckland and Manukau cities proceeding with the recently recommended proposal of building a $480 million multi-mode expressway comprising 4 traffic lanes of motorway (2 in each direction), two rapid transit lanes (bus - 1 in each direction), combined walkway/cycleway, and retaining existing rail for freight and passengers.
· 31% supported the motorway option, with upgraded rail (with 15% also supporting a separate cycleway).
· 7% supported the motorway option with dedicated busway only (ie. no rail);
· and Six percent (6%) supported upgrading the existing rail only option (ie. no motorway or dedicated busway).

Other findings included:
· 62% support for the Eastern Corridor being build as a toll road, with 36% against the idea.
· 66% of respondents agreed that tunnel options should be considered (eg Hobson Bay to reduce environmental impacts), even though they were informed that costs will likely increase significantly.
· 66% of respondents also supported introduction of tolls on other corridor routes to help speed up network completion.

Of four options for tolls on regional routes other than the Eastern Corridor, 27% gave first preference to reintroduction of tolls on the Harbour Bridge, 17% to the western bypass at Avondale and 15% for a toll between Orewa and Puhoi to help speed up the building of the planned motorway north of Orewa (ALPURT). Seven percent (7%) supported a toll on SH1 south of the Bombay Hills to help speed up extension of the motorway to Hamilton.

However, numerous respondents commented that they would have supported tolls on all the options, if the survey had allowed this response. A significant minority, estimated at 20%, also commented that they opposed tolls.

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, described the survey findings as "a strong mandate for Auckland and Manukau cities getting on with the job of building the Eastern corridor with urgency and speed."

"Auckland businesses are very clearly saying they want the corridor network completed, and they want the job done in a way that motorways are integrated to include a public transport option."

The desire for integration of the public and private transport systems coupled with using toll options to complete the core network is transparently reinforced by the comments of many of the respondents, said Mr Barnett.

"Getting Auckland's transport system sorted is clearly a subject that is passionately exercising the minds of business," said Mr Barnett. "Most of the 750 respondents took the opportunity to comment on what form the eastern corridor should be built and to elaborate their support for tolls, with the overall message to the Mayors of the two Cities very clear - get on with it!"

Comments included:
· Finish the motorway system through west Auckland ASAP.
· Rail simply won't work in Auckland - we lack the critical mass.
· Let’s fund the rail for the long term and use tolls to do so...
· Look at Sydney, it didn't go ahead until it got its rail, and it still has tolls on the harbour bridge...
· A toll should be put on the bridge as a way to encourage commuters to use bus and ferry options, with better "park & ride" options provided....
· If Auckland received its fair share of petrol tax money, tolls may not be needed...

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