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Council agrees on missing link for ring route

16 December 2005

Council agrees on missing link for ring route

Auckland City Council is supporting Transit New Zealand's preferred alignment for the Avondale extension of State Highway 20, but with conditions.

The preferred route will connect State Highway 20 to State Highway 16, the northwestern motorway, with an interchange at Waterview. This will see the completion of the western ring route.

Mayor of Auckland City, Dick Hubbard, says the alignment of the Avondale extension is of great strategic importance and as such, it is essential the final route is the right location for the city and region.

"The completion of State Highway 20 and the western ring route is a top priority. It will provide a much-needed alternative to the southern motorway and significantly better travel options for residents and businesses in the north, west and south of the region," says Mr Hubbard.

"We know first hand the need for detailed planning for projects of this scale. However, we also need to get things moving so we can offer some certainty for the communities that will both benefit and be affected by this project."

The Waterview alignment will provide the same strategic connection in a single corridor rather than two corridors under the second choice, the Rosebank option, while also offering the potential to reduce traffic on Great North Road by over 50 per cent.

"Our support for the Waterview alignment was not based on cost, but on the effects on the surrounding communities. It is inevitable that there will be social and environmental impacts from the construction. We have carefully considered both route alignments to understand these impacts in order to find a balance in the level of disruption our communities can sustain.

"With this in mind, we are basing our support on the Waterview alignment on a number of enhancements and mitigations that we believe are necessary to ensure long-term benefits for the local community and the region."

On behalf of the community, the council is strongly advocating for Transit New Zealand to deliver 27 conditions, which would make the disruption from the construction more palatable. These include:

* a new Great North Road interchange to significantly reduce traffic on Great North Road * creating new and replacing open spaces at Hendon Park, Alan Wood Reserve, the Phyllis reserve area and the proposed Great North Road interchange * using a 'cut and cover' tunnel between New North Road and a new Great North Road interchange, enhancing the Oakley Creek environment * moving the alignment westwards away from the Oakley Creek valley, north of Blockhouse Bay Road to the Waterview interchange, to preserve the creek's ecological value and water quality * moving the alignment westwards away from Oakley Creek valley using a 'cut and cover' tunnel between New North Road and a new Great North Road interchange while also providing enhancements to the Oakley Creek environment * redesigning the Waterview interchange, including investigation in the potential to underground ramp connections * creating a passenger transport corridor along Great North Road between Avondale town centre and Point Chevalier * new vehicle, cycle and pedestrian linkages to create strong connections between suburbs and amenities * appropriate compensation for loss of existing residential land.

"We are presenting this to Transit now to ensure we have agreement on the level of mitigation needed from the outset. Our series of 27 conditions is a necessary win for the community," says Mr Hubbard.

Chairperson of Auckland City's Transport and Urban Linkages Committee, Councillor Richard Simpson, says the council is committed to working in partnership with Transit NZ to achieve desirable outcomes in urban design and amenity.

"Auckland City's role is to support and strengthen the local road network to ensure people have sustainable travel choices. We will continue to work with Transit to develop good street environments, improved access and better transport connections for the surrounding communities.

"The same level of mitigation for the Rosebank Road option would result in significantly higher costs. If we work with Transit on the Waterview route it means we can get onto the next stage of planning quicker while also achieving flow on benefits in areas like passenger transport and cycling and walking infrastructure.

"It is important for ARTA [Auckland Regional Transport Authority] to work with Transit to ensure public transport is sensibly coupled with the state highway extension. This will provide Aucklanders with greater choice and more sustainable travel options," says Mr Simpson.

Transit NZ plans to hold public information days outlining the preferred route early in the new year, and begin resource management requirements later in 2006.

ENDS

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