Wednesday, 18th December, 2013
A sod turning today by Prime Minister John Key to celebrate a construction start on a project linking the Upper Harbour Highway to the Northern Motorway signals what promises be an action-packed few years to get on top of Auckland’s crucial transport infrastructure needs.
In an event billed as the start of an accelerated package of Auckland transport improvements, the Prime Minister is scheduled to launch the first of a group of projects he confirmed in his “Backing Auckland” speech in June.
The project launched today involves building a motorway-to-motorway link between the Upper Harbour Highway and the Northern Motorway at Constellation Drive, upgrading the Greville Road interchange and improving the Northern Busway.
Welcoming the accelerated programme, chairman of the Auckland Business Forum Michael Barnett said he anticipated other critical projects commencing soon, including reducing delays on the State Highway 20A route to Auckland Airport at the Kirkbride Intersection, and widen the Southern Motorway between Manukau and Papakura.
“We also need to see action as soon as possible on the next generation of major projects the Prime Minister confirmed in June, especially the East-West Link and Central Rail Link,” said Mr Barnett.
An early start to the east-west link between the south western motorway at Onehunga and southern motorway at Mt Wellington on the northern shore of Manukau Harbour is critical, he said. “After the central city this is Auckland’s second highest area of employment. Congestion is already bad enough. But with the economy improving and other freight and warehouse businesses setting up in the Southdown area, the project needs to be progressed with speed and urgency.
An early construction start on the central rail link (CRL) tunnel linking Britomark to the western rail line at Mt Eden also seems logical, said Mr Barnett. “With major projects like the Downtown Shopping Centre office tower, NZ Convention Centre and Elliot Tower scheduled to start in the next two years, it makes huge sense to get the cut-and-cover tunnel sections under Albert St finished as soon as possible.”
“I note that the CRL tunnel goes under the Downtown Shopping Centre which will have to be demolished before the cut and cover tunnel work can start, and the tunnel must be completed before the replacement building can be built.” Along with the other construction projects scheduled for the city centre, there should be an integrated work programme covering the whole package – to ensure all the projects are built in the most efficient way and with minimum disruption to the city, and so that there is no digging up of streets more than once.
Today’s project launch will reinforce Auckland as a progressive city seriously working to address its infrastructure problems and cope with its continuing growth. It will also give confidence to investors and job seekers alike, concluded Mr Barnett.
For more information contact Michael Barnett on 0275 631 150 or the Forum’s Project Co-ordinator Tony Garnier on 0274 990 155.