A petition has been launched by National to garner support for the East-West link after Labour announced plans to review the project.
The petition was launched by National MP’s Denise Lee, Simeon Brown and Jami-Lee Ross, who are concerned Labour does not understand the urgency of Auckland’s congestion issues.
The East-West Link has had almost a decade of planning and $50 million of investigate spending put into developing the project.
“You would expect that there was a clear direction on the project. This project has been through a fine-toothed procedural process like no other. It is supported by council, iwi, and has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Inquiry,” says Ms Lee, MP for Maungakiekie.
“The current gridlock is a major barrier to commerce. This is making it difficult for people getting access to their basic daily goods. It is quite literally the bread and butter of transport projects.”
Mr Brown, Pakuranga MP, says many residents in Pakuranga work at or own businesses that would have benefitted from this project.
“With freight movements in the area expected to double by 2035 it is an important part of the solution to Auckland’s transport issues.
“The area targeted by the East-West Link employs approximately 68,000 people and contributes roughly $4.6 billion a year to Auckland’s economy. The key aspect of the project is to create a further connection between State Highway 1 and State Highway 20 and improve connections to rail and freight hubs in the area.”
Mr Ross, Botany MP, says the hold up on this project means that the wider east Auckland area won’t see the full benefits that would be delivered by transport projects like East-West Link and AMETI.
“Botany is home to the growing East Tamaki industrial area. Projects like East-West Link are very important for ensuring that freight can be moved more efficiently in the future.
“This is an important project that the government has wrongly thrown into uncertainty. We will continue to push the government to include the project in their plan and we encourage the public to show their support through signing the petition.”
Labour Transport Minister Phil Twyford says Labour is prioritising Auckland’s congestion issues and is urgently reviewing plans for the East West Link which is a vital freight corridor.
“NZTA (New Zealand Transport Agency) are working to identify a higher-value, lower-cost option that delivers a better solution than the gold-plated $327 million-per-kilometre plan of the former National government which would have made this the most expensive stretch of road in the world,” he says.
“It’s a bit rich for the now Opposition to suggest Labour doesn’t understand congestion when under their watch, Auckland congestion increased by a third between 2015 and 2017 and now costs Auckland businesses up to $1.3 billion a year in lost productivity.”
The petition can be found here.