The first of 61 houses along Pakuranga Road came crashing down this morning to make way for the AMETI Eastern Busway. It’s been a quarter century in the making.
Mayor Phil Goff was joined by Auckland Transport (AT) representatives, Howick Local Board members, local councillors and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown donning hi-vis and hardhats to watch the demolition kick off.
“You feel an element of sadness when you see a house come down but you know that what’s going to replace it is the best public transport system Pakuranga and east Auckland has ever seen,” says Goff.
The removal of these Auckland Council-owned properties will allow for parts of Lagoon Drive and Pakuranga Road to be widened to create a dedicated, congestion-free busway.
This is the first stage of the four-stage project which will also see Panmure Roundabout turned into a safer signalised intersection, new cycle and walking paths, improved public spaces and reserves, a second bridge across Tamaki River and several intersection upgrades.
When the $1.4b busway is fully operational, commuters will be able to travel between Botany and Britomart, by bus and train, in less than 40 minutes.
Goff says east Auckland has been the most poorly-served area in Auckland for public transport and the dedicated busway, walkways and cycleways will give commuters options for getting into the city centre.
“Everybody that drives down [Pakuranga Road] knows that we’ve got to improve the transport arrangements for the east, as it has grown. This sort of infrastructure really should have been done 10 years ago. But the next best time to do it is now,” he says.
“While we are losing these houses, it does mean that we are able to provide the transport system for all of the new houses that are being built in this area so that we don’t have mass congested roads.”
He says people will also have a safe, realistic option of riding bikes and scooters to work.
The removal of properties on the northern side of Lagoon Drive and Pakuranga Road will finish early next year to enable the main construction phase to start in March/April 2019.
The construction phase will take about two years.
Goff says the introduction of the regional fuel tax has allowed for the remaining three stages of the busway – Pakuranga Town Centre and Reeves Road Flyover, Pakuranga to Botany Busway and a new interchange at Botany Town Centre – to be fast tracked.
“When you fill your petrol up, you at least know where that money is going.
“This has been talked about for a quarter of a century, 25 years,” Goff says. “We’ve waited a long time for this.”
Project director, Duncan Humphrey says he was in University when he first heard about AMETI and now, years later, is in charge of overseeing the whole project.
“This work will significantly increase the visibility of the project for those who live, work and travel through this area,” says Humphrey.
“While this progress is exciting and will result in vastly-improved travel choices, journey times and reliability for east Aucklanders, we appreciate that there will be inconveniences and disruption caused by the removal of properties and imminent construction. We do have plans to minimise these impacts.”
More information on the project can be found here.