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East – West link needed in some form

East – West link needed in some form

National Road Carriers has welcomed the decision by the Environment Protection Authority’s independent Board of Inquiry that the East-West Link Road from Onehunga to Sylvia Park should proceed.

However, the new Government cancelled the road in its current form a fortnight ago.

The approval by the Board of Inquiry nominally gave the New Zealand Transport Authority resource consent to start construction following two months of hearings held earlier this year.

“The decision shows the new road is justified,” said David Aitken, the CEO of National Road Carriers, the country’s largest road transport organisation. “Now it needs to be followed up quickly with a constructive alternative solution for the area’s increasing traffic congestion.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the cancellation a fortnight ago, following a meeting with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, but conceded that “there are congestion issues that mean we need to re-look at how we respond to the problems that generated the original East-West link plans.”

The link was planned between State Highway 20 from Onehunga to State Highway 1 at Sylvia Park.

“We are keen to see alternatives as soon as possible and happy to work with all parties to help come up with something appropriate,” said Mr Aitken.

Traffic continues to increase in the Onehunga, Te Papapa, Southdown area and currently uses a circuitous route along Nielsen St, Church St, Great South Rd and Sylvia Park Rd between the two motorways. Aitken said some sort of bypass is needed.

“We understand the Government is going to encourage more rail freight by installing another rail line as far as the Southdown/ Te Papapa inland Metroport,” said Mr Aitken. “We back that.”

But then the incoming freight has to be distributed from the Metroport, which will require even more than the 6000 daily truck movements that currently pass through the area, said Mr Aitken. It is the busiest road freight transport route in the country.

The large commercial and industrial area is home to some of Auckland and New Zealand’s largest companies and freight distribution operations, attracted to the area over the last 50 years by the former Auckland City Council with the promise of transport links to the north and south which have yet to be achieved.

Metroport alone is handling over 500,000 containers annually and the Pikes Pt recycling depot has 20,000 heavy commercial vehicle trips and many more by light vehicles and private motorists annually.

“Whatever replaces the East- West link will not only benefit the transport industry, but all traffic which passes through the area,” said Mr Aitken. “It needs to have direct connectivity to both motorways to get traffic away from all the urban streets for everybody’s benefit.”

With Auckland’s predicted population growth, traffic volumes are expected to double in the area by 2035.

Church St and Nielsen St are also a major route for traffic from the eastern suburbs to the airport, which is also expected to generate increased freight traffic, some of which will go to the Metroport for further distribution.

“The urban roads in Onehunga and Te Papapa are going to become increasingly clogged,” said Mr Aitken. “There is no escaping it. A bypass link will give Onehunga and Te Papapa their town and residential streets back.”

National Road Carriers Association is the largest nationwide organisation representing companies involved in the road transport industry. It has 1700 members, who collectively operate 15,000 trucks throughout New Zealand.

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