Auckland Transport officials this week confirmed that a key piece of the city’s second largest transport project, the AMETI/Eastern Busway’s Reeves Road Flyover, has been delayed.
This means further uncertainty for a project vital to unlocking congestion in east Auckland, says Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga.
“The Reeves Road Flyover is a critical piece of infrastructure designed to ease congestion around the Pakuranga Town Centre and allow for the Eastern Busway to run smoothly underneath, improving public transport options and travel times for east Aucklanders,” Brown says.
“Auckland Transport (AT) is claiming that this delay is due to changes in the Unitary Plan and a decision by the board of Auckland Transport to contract the remaining stages of AMETI as a single project, rather than delivering it as a number of separate individual projects.”
“Their reasoning for this approach though is vague, as there was a clear logic to the previous plan that would deliver pieces of the AMETI/Eastern Busway in a commonsense order, with the flyover coming first to alleviate congestion prior to construction of the Botany to Pakuranga stage of the Eastern Busway.”
The purpose of this sequential approach, says Brown, was to minimise the impact of construction on traffic flow and allow people to take advantage of the flyover sooner rather than later.
“It is also unclear what changes to the Unitary Plan AT is referring to, given it has been in effect since late-2016. AT have had plenty of time to work this out,” Brown says.
This decision to delay the project will mean another re-design of the remaining stages of the AMETI/Eastern Busway and will mean, he says, more uncertainty for the area with a Notice of Requirement application unlikely to be lodged until late 2020.
“Locals have been waiting over a decade for this project to get underway, with repeated delays, re-designs, and funding issues pushing it further and further back. I will be urging Auckland Transport to work closely with affected parties in the area to ensure they are engaged in the next steps of this process and are fully informed and involved in the decisions going forward.”
The delay will also mean there will be some crossover between construction of the Reeves Road Flyover and the Botany to Pakuranga stage of the Eastern Busway.
“This could make traffic congestion much worse during construction than initially thought and I will be working closely with AT to ensure they understand the impact and can take steps to mitigate as much of it as possible,” says Brown.
“Auckland Transport needs to stop the continual delays and finally get on with the delivery of these critical pieces of infrastructure.”
AT told the Times it has informed Brown on the current status of stages 2 and 3 of the Eastern Busway project “on a number of occasions”, including the current review of its strategy for design and construction of the Reeves Road Flyover.
“Stages 2 and 3 of the Eastern Busway between Pakuranga and Botany, including the Reeves Road Flyover, are in the design and consenting phase. The project is being built in stages and construction on the flyover and future stages between Pakuranga and Botany are planned to commence shortly after stage 1 construction between Panmure and Pakuranga is complete in 2021,” the AT spokesman said.
“Recently, we have been assessing options to improve the design and construction strategy for stages 2 and 3 in a way that maximises the transport and community outcomes, minimises the impacts of construction to the local community and provides better value for money within the existing budget while remaining within the completion date for all stages of the Eastern Busway by 2025.”
Part of this process includes establishing how and when the flyover is built within the wider Eastern Busway construction plan.
“The project is fully funded and at this stage we expect to commence work on the flyover by 2021. Once we have finalised our strategy for building these stages of the project early next year, we will provide a final completion date for the Reeves Road Flyover.”