$28 billion to be spent on transport

AMETI Pakuranga to Panmure Busway. Photo Jason Dorday

A $28 billion transport investment to fix Auckland’s Transport has been unveiled and east Auckland has not been forgotten.

The AMETI Eastern Busway and a transport corridor connecting the airport with Botany are among those projects mentioned in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) package, which aims to transform our city.

However little is mentioned about the plans for the East West Link and only one stage of the Mill Road transport corridor has been confirmed.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the $28b plan will “help ease the awful congestion that has been caused by a decade of under-investment”.

Botany MP and National transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says the ATAP announcement contains “very little that is new” and, in effect, is a re-announcement of most of what the former National Government was doing.

“The key differences are that there is a new tax being put in place, trams are planned for Dominion Road, East West Link has been canned in its present form, and Mill Road is only a halfway-house option compared to what we would have been doing,” he says.

“On Mill Road specifically, National was going to designate that corridor as a four lane state highway and build it without the need for ratepayer contributions. That is a saving of $500million for the council.”

Ross says he is pleased that the Eastern Busway is a continued priority for Auckland, despite being dropped down the list in favour of trams on Dominion Road.

He says the new link between the airport and Botany has always been a long term project.

“When the Manukau City Council built Te Irirangi Drive it was made deliberately wide to accommodation a busway in the future.”

Auckland Transport’s chief infrastructure officer Greg Edmonds says the release of ATAP brings more clarity for the public about how AMETI Eastern Busway sits within the strategic network and future plans for connecting Botany with Puhinui.

AMETI Eastern Busway was identified as a long planned critical project that expands Auckland’s rapid transit network from Panmure to Botany.

Some $1.2 billion has been allocated to the project which will start with construction of the Panmure to Pakuranga stage in late 2018.

AMETI Eastern Busway will introduce 7km of dedicated, congestion-free busway between Botany and Panmure.

This will mean less than 40 minutes by bus and train between Botany and Britomart in peak hour when the busway is operational in 2026.

The project will also include a Reeve’s Road Flyover, 7km of cycling lanes and walkways, two new bridges across the Tamaki River and Pakuranga Creek and three new stations and interchanges.

The report also indicates future plans to continue rapid transport from Botany to the Airport

While the highest priority section of this corridor is between the airport and a major new interchange at Puhinui train station, connecting this corridor with Botany Town Centre is a key future priority, the report states.

“This signifies further progress towards bringing transformational transport infrastructure, better travel choice and improved services for the people of South East Auckland,” Edmonds says.

Little is said about the East West Link, only that the investment for this has been reduced by about $950 million from the National government’s original plans.

The Mill Road corridor has been split into two phases, with only one stage considered an immediate priority leaving the corridor largely incomplete.

The proposed Mill Road corridor was to provide an additional strategic north-south corridor for south Auckland, connecting Manukau and Drury to the east of the Southern Motorway.

However Hunua MP Andrew Bayly says only completing the first phase of the project means the people of Pukekohe, Waiuku, Karaka, and Drury will face continued delays and congestion.

“Today the Government has scrapped most of that project by only promising to follow through on the first stage of the northern section – from Manukau to Alfriston School.  This drop off point is a road to nowhere,” says Bayly.

“There will now be a yawning transport gap between Papakura and the Stevenson’s Development at Drury.  By disbanding the proposal to create an alternative four-lane expressway, it means that the announcement will have no real effect on reducing traffic congestion.”

The ATAP package allocates more money than the $26.9 billion the previous national Government planned to spend, but Twyford says the council’s planned regional fuel tax will make up the shortfall.

To view the full report go to https://www.transport.govt.nz/land/auckland/atap/.