OPINION: Acceleration needed on infrastructure

East Auckland’s population is growing rapidly.

So vision, long-term planning and a sense of urgency are vital to ensure our community’s current and future infrastructure will meet residents’ needs decades into the future.

Too many important local infrastructure projects have taken too long to get off the ground.

The Eastern Busway is a classic example. When it’s finished in 2026, it will take passengers by bus and train from Botany to Britomart in under 40 minutes.

It’s great that construction on this project is now under way, but it will have taken a staggering 20 years from first being announced to its estimated completion date.

That lack of pace is unacceptable and frustrated local commuters deserve better. We also need to make it easier for east Auckland residents to get into Auckland’s CBD and to Auckland Airport.

One way to do that is to connect the Eastern Busway with the planned Botany to Airport rapid transit project via Te Irirangi Drive.

That’s an initiative I’m leading the charge on and I’m pushing the Transport Minister on in the Parliament.

I’m also pushing Mayor Phil Goff to have the Chapel Road bridge upgraded.

Funding was allocated several years ago to carry out initial work on the bridge and improve it so it would have pedestrian facilities, be widened and the large curve in that part of the road would be reduced.

But Auckland Transport abandoned the project, leaving locals having to keep navigating their way along this crash hot-spot.

The planned upgrade was highly desirable given the fast housing and economic growth in nearby Ormiston and Flat Bush. And obviously locals have the right to travel on roads that are safe and fit for purpose.

The new town centre being constructed in Ormiston is expected to eventually serve a population the size of Gisborne’s.

It’s vital the necessary vision, long-term planning and sense of urgency is in place to ensure residents in those communities can move around quickly and efficiently.

There was a lot to praise the Government for in Budget 2019, but one of its biggest failings is a lack of investment in roading infrastructure.

The $1 billion being put into KiwiRail won’t reduce the amount of time it takes someone who lives in Botany to get to Symonds Street or Auckland Airport.

Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany

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