3 October 2014
Transport agency proposals to address East-West traffic flows released for public consultation yesterday will help address urgent freight needs in the Penrose-Onehunga area in Auckland. But the long term solution must be one which connects Aucklands commercial and industrial heartland in Penrose, Mt Wellington and East Tamaki and also caters for planned residential intensification and growth from the eastern suburbs to the airport, says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.
In order for Aucklanders to provide worthwhile feedback on the proposals it is essential that they understand the full benefits and costs of each option and the long term strategic implications.
The options proposed are concentrated on the Onehunga-Penrose catchment zone which, while still the largest in terms of employment, represents just one fifth of the $11 billion per annum generated across the industrial zones bordering the Manukau Harbour and Tamaki Estuary. Little information has been provided, to date, on the benefits, costs and strategic implications of the alternatives proposed.
Connectivity to East Tamaki as well as further south to Mangere and on to the airport is not planned for improvement in these proposals, except through improved bus movement.
How these areas will be connected into the future has great bearing on what the appropriate solution is for this first phase of investment.
One option considered in earlier analysis included a motorway south of the Manukau Harbour. It provided long term connectivity not only between the industrial areas, but for all communities in the east of Auckland accessing employment and the airport.
It was almost immediately terminated following public reaction, leaving a northern Manukau Harbour solution as the most politically acceptable. However, given that the proposals released yesterday provide no new east west connectivity for Glen Innes, Panmure, Howick, Pakuranga, Botany and the industrial areas of East Tamaki and Mt Wellington it is not clear how existing and projected growth demand in these areas will be addressed.
Too often major projects in New Zealand are developed in a piecemeal fashion and modified and reduced to satisfy environmental and local interests without adequate consideration of strategic implications or the relative cost of lost accessibility and reduced economic efficiency.
The East-West connection is a critical corridor linking not just the two busiest stretches of motorway in the country and three of the largest employment zones, it is a strategic link on the national highway network providing long term resilience and capacity for all road users crossing the city from east to west.
It is critical that this project is seen as a strategic east west link for Auckland. That means providing adequate capacity to and through Aucklands industrial heartland and supporting network connectivity region-wide, Selwood says.