Friday, 15th September, 2017

The Auckland Business Forum wants the incoming Government to fast track completion of an integrated investment package of the East-West Link road between Onehunga and Mt Wellington and the third rail line between Wiri and Westfield.

Both projects are critically linked and vital to moving Auckland forward with speed and urgency, said Auckland Business Forum chair, Michael Barnett.

“Auckland has a transport crisis. Auckland businesses (and their employees) expect the next Government to step-up the pace providing a modern, integrated transport network embracing road and rail systems providing safe, efficient public transport and goods distribution services.

Delaying funding and construction is not an option for these projects. Any further delay means losing momentum and will fail to capitalise further on the benefits created by the Waterview Tunnel.”

Within the East-West Link route there are thousands of firms generating $10 billion and employing 70,000 people in this area.

Around 6000 heavy trucks, or one truck every 10 seconds, pass through the Church – Neilson street intersection every working day. The nearby Southdown Rail Freight Terminal processes more than 400,000 containers a year and is New Zealand’s third largest container port. Each container needs a truck trip for the final part of its journey, but the current local road system is not fit for purpose.

This is one of Auckland’s worst congestion hot spots, costing millions of dollars and time delays to major companies that distribute goods across Auckland and the upper North Island from the nearby rail head and other distribution firms.

The area is also Auckland’s second largest employment hub (after central Auckland) and the logistics rail and road hub for the “Golden Economic Triangle’ of Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Both the East-West Link and rail line have been on Auckland’s ‘catch-up’ agenda for decades. Fast-tracking them will move Auckland a step closer to having a modern integrated transport network.

Mr Barnett: The incoming Government must apply the lessons of the Waterview Tunnel. It took 50 years to complete the route and just one day to realise significant benefits such as:

  • Commuters getting back 40-50 minutes in their day
  • Trades, freight and commercial firms managing an extra job or delivery
  • More reliable travel from the North Shore to the Airport
  • Local Waterview roads returned to their community

A fit-for-purpose East West Link will bring similar benefits - taking trucks off Onehunga retail and community streets, and reducing congestion and reliability of travel and delivery.

Coupled with the Third Main rail line, these projects will give Auckland’s/ New Zealand’s industrial heartland a transport system that can keep pace with the 6% projected freight growth a year forecast for the foreseeable future. A third main also maximizes capacity for the commuter rail network.

Like Waterview, the east-west link in the motorway network to service industrial Penrose-Southdown and the rail head, has been on Auckland’s books since the 1960s.

Decades of under planning, risk-averse attitudes and siloed decision-making has created Auckland’s traffic crisis.

After 25 years of review, delays, discussions over routes and design, our message to the incoming Government is clear – both projects must proceed with no more delay. Auckland must move ahead.

 

For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150 or mbarnett@chamber.co.nz
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

* The Auckland Business Forum: Members include Auckland Chambers of Commerce, Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern), Ports of Auckland, Auckland Airport, Civil Contractors NZ, Infrastructure NZ, National Road Carriers. These organizations represent a cross-section of Auckland industry and commerce whose role includes guardianship of businesses responsible for more than 450,000 Auckland jobs and generating 42% of New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP).