Residents vent at busway officials

Many Burswood residents oppose a plan that would see the Eastern Busway project run along a new bridge behind the Chinatown complex and down Burswood Drive. Times photo Wayne Martin

Heavy machinery will become a familiar sight in a quiet residential community for 12 months if the controversial preferred route of a major public transport project goes ahead.

About 100 Burswood locals packed into East City Wesleyan Church on April 20 to hear from eight Auckland Transport (AT) and Eastern Busway Alliance officials about the busway’s next stage.

AT revealed in late 2021 its preferred route of the project’s Ti Rakau Drive bridge to Botany Town Centre section would see it run down Ti Rakau Drive, move left over a new bridge around the back of the Chinatown complex and onto Burswood Drive.

It then moves along the back of businesses in Torrens Road, continues in a straight line past Bunnings, onto Burswood Drive, and back out into Ti Rakau Drive.

The plan would require the purchase of numerous homes in Burswood and has drawn vocal opposition from residents.

The meeting in Burswood was intended to give locals the chance to share their views and ask questions of the busway’s project team.

Those in attendance asked numerous questions relating to the disruption the project would cause, its cost and timeframes, what other options had been considered, and why they only heard about the meeting through social media instead of being formerly invited to it by AT.

Numerous people who spoke said they believed the Burswood option was a foregone conclusion and they feel they aren’t being listened to by AT.

At one point a man in the audience asked people who support the preferred option to raise their hands, with no one raising their hands.

He then asked everyone who opposes it to raise their hands, with the vast majority of people raising their hands.

One of the questions posed was how long the work would take if the Burswood option went ahead as planned.

“We’re backing right onto the bus lane so we’re going to have to live through all that construction,” a woman said.

“What sort of timeframe are we looking at, because we won’t be able to sell and we can’t get away from it.

“It will be right behind our bedroom window so we’re going to have to live through houses being demolished and bus lanes being put in.”

An AT official replied the agency was “looking at around a year-long period” to construct what it calls the Burswood corridor.

“So a year of paving construction and erecting the noise wall that sits between the busway and the properties.

“That involves standard construction equipment in terms of 20-tonne excavators and six-wheeler trucks that work up and down that narrow corridor.

“At the moment we’re thinking around 12 months.

“Around four months for the intersections that sit on the Burswood corridor.

“Each of those will be staged to minimise the disruption.

“All our effort and all our work would be around minimising the disruption and noise and vibration to those properties.”

Officials at the meeting said they will present the residents’ feedback to the AT board.

The approved design of the busway’s Ti Rakau Drive bridge to Botany Town Centre stage is expected to be announced in the coming months.