AMETI: The beginning of a real transport vision?
From Len Brown, Mayoral Candidate, Manukau City
AMETI: The beginning of a real transport vision?
This local government election will turn on whether there are workable and acceptable solutions to current and future transport requirements of the people of Howick, Pakuranga and East Tamaki.
There is a lot at stake. The AMETI report was released at the same time as local Panmure residents were protesting about the poor roading configuration causing bottlenecks in Pakuranga. This is both ironic and instructive and shows how important it is that we get it right for the future. The AMETI report together with the Eastern Corridor study has cost us $14 million so far. I believe we still have a long way to go before we can say we have got it sorted. However I am committed to working effectively with our communities so that we can finish up with a plan that will future proof the transport needs of Howick, Pakuranga and East Tamaki.
There are some good things in the AMETI plan. Widening the two bridges at Waipuna and Panmure for both vehicles and bus transport makes sense. Panmure Bridge is and should be the focus for bus movement.
The proposal to build a duplicate bridge at Waipuna also makes sense particularly as it will strengthen the connection to the Eastern corridor.
I also like the fact that the report does not prioritise the widening of Ti Rakau Drive and refers only to intersection upgrades at Waipuna and Gossamer Drive. It is clear to me that the new motorway connection from East Tamaki at Highbrook Drive, opening in one month, will be used by those accessing the motorway from East Tamaki, Howick and Flat Bush. The traffic pressure will therefore significantly ease on Ti Rakau Drive.
The AMETI report has a major flaw, one shared by the Eastern Corridor plan. The proposed four-lane, two tier fly-over on Reeves Rd to access the Waipuna Bridge, will be a disaster for the Pakuranga Plaza, and particularly Te Tuhi. The Plaza is Pakuranga’s commercial hub. It will have an increasing struggle to compete against the other super malls, such as Sylvia Park. We need to do better than this so that we don’t get the same result as has happened in the Papatoetoe and Manurewa town centres.
Te Tuhi is not only the community hub of Pakuranga, but is also an important cultural hub of our city. What message are we sending to our community by running two tiers of four lanes of roading between our library, art gallery and Community centre with the bitumix extending to within 10 metres of each? Not a good look and not in keeping with our plan to build a beautiful city.
The logical option is to significantly up-grade and widen the connection along Ti Rakau Drive between the Howick:Pakuranga Highway and Reeves Rd. We need to protect the cultural and commercial heart of Pakuranga, not drive a massive wedge through it.
If we look at our long term public transport plan for the Eastern suburbs, and its connection to our city and the region, there are some excellent opportunities for us city-wide. Transit New Zealand has just approved a rail crossing of the Manukau Harbour from Mangere Bridge to Onehunga. The Government has announced the reopening of the Onehunga railway line. These two crucial decisions give us the opportunity to build an electrified rail circuit around our city that would link the four largest business zones in New Zealand; East Tamaki, Manukau, the Airport, and Penrose/Onehunga.
The key to making this happen will be to include a proposed rail link from the main trunk line to Highland Park via a crossing of the Tamaki at the Waipuna Bridge. A rapid transit rail system, linking our suburbs directly to our work places is a crucial part of driving our city’s economy into the future. It will give us real options for travel to and from work without using our cars. This will minimise carbon discharges to our atmosphere and open up our roading system to business traffic.
Our own plan to future proof our transport needs must include the upgrade to the Half Moon Bay ferry terminal. The provision of non-vehicle options for eastern suburbs residents is a key part of our contribution to a regional ferry service around the Waitemata that could rival Sydney. This project has been stalled for 6 years. It is now time to get moving on this.
It is essential that the residents of Howick and Pakuranga have their say through the period of consultation. It is not the time for council to shove this proposal through, before the election this year. We need time to make sure we get it right.
I will be announcing my transportation plan in the next 3 months and I will be having forums across the city to discuss it together with the AMETI report, and how we can deliver on a transport vision to keep our city moving into the decades ahead.