Big mess for Rugby World Cup 2011
No views of Rangitoto only a big mess for Rugby World Cup 2011
It's not good enough that the tens of thousands of rugby fans driving into Auckland for the Rugby World Cup will only see ugly hoardings and orange cones instead of Rangitoto and the sparking waters of the Hauraki Gulf, claims a business district increasingly frustrated with the ongoing delays around Transit's construction of a new SH1 Newmarket motorway viaduct.
"The view from the Newmarket viaduct provides visitors bound for the city with their first glimpse of Rangitoto and the harbour. It's a spectacular and heavily protected view shaft, yet when Auckland hosts the third largest sporting event in the world, visitors won't be able to see beyond the construction hoardings," says Cameron Brewer, general manager of the Newmarket Business Association.
Twelve months ago almost to the day Transit voiced hope that this project would be completed ahead of time and hence in time for the Rugby World Cup.
"The Environment Court appeals for this project were amicably resolved 13 months ago without the need for lengthy hearings. This project should have been well underway now and could have been completed before the Rugby World Cup. However all we've seen over the past year are cost blow-outs, funding issues, and ongoing construction delays."
Mr Brewer says nine months ago the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee approved regional funds needed to accelerate the project, but there have been hold ups from Land Transport New Zealand and the Wellington-based Transit Board.
He says given the delays, construction hoardings, which will be put up as screens to avoid drivers from rubbernecking, are now still likely to be up during the Rugby World Cup which is set for September and October 2011.
"Transit now also advises that what was a $142.7m project has now blown out to $180m. What's more we understand the current 1966 structure is a lot more unsafe than originally first thought.
"Transit told us last year that the current viaduct could withstand a one-in-500 year earthquake. However we now understand the statistics are much worse than that. Seismologically, this is possibly the most vulnerable structure in Auckland's motorway network, yet Transit is responding at a snail's pace.”
The new seven-lane structure will be built alongside, on the Newmarket side, the existing viaduct. It will be one of the biggest civil engineering projects central Auckland has witnessed for some time. Currently the viaduct carries about 200,000 cars a day and is part of New Zealand's busiest piece of motorway.
Mr Brewer said the Newmarket business community believed the sooner the disruption was was out of the way the better.
"The pending project has caused a lot of uncertainty for that end of Broadway, and subsequently there has been little investment around that area for some time.
“We also believe that during the three-year construction period there will be greater traffic congestion for Newmarket as drivers avoid that piece of the motorway and cut through the likes of Khyber Pass Road, Broadway, Remuera Road and Great South Road.
“The Newmarket viaduct provides beautiful gateway views that showcase the City of Sails at its best. Unfortunately it’s going to be nothing more than a huge construction zone when Auckland’s big international moment arrives,” says Cameron Brewer.