Thursday, 21st June, 2018
When Penlink was finally elevated into the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan (ATAP) earlier this year with money allocated for construction within 10-years, the residents and businesses where the congestion has the worst impact were pleased – all their hard work to get immediate and dramatic action to address Silverdale’s daily gridlock seemed to be paying off.
But now we learn that the Auckland Council’s Regional Land Transport Plan confirmed yesterday has pushed Penlink’s construction to the back end of the decade, and only as a tolled 2-lane road and bridge and with no provision for a separate public transport (busway) or cycleway component.
It’s crazy that Auckland Council can give a low priority to a project that has one of Auckland’s highest benefit-cost assessments – 3.5 for a project costing $348 million – meaning that for every dollar spent it will generate nearly $3.50 in economic benefit.
It shows we have a flawed system. Here we have a new Government wanting more public transport, walking and cycling but then goes for a 2-lane option.
Our recent survey which Government and Council are well aware of shows that the public want a 4-lane road with a public transport option.
Meanwhile the announcement bringing forward Penlink has already fueled property development in Silverdale and on the Peninsula, with a number of long-delayed apartment projects towards Gulf Harbour now underway.
And gridlock on Hibiscus Coast Highway continues to get worse, with 10-km traffic queues between the interchange with SH1 and Orewa and also along the Peninsula to the Whangaparaoa Shopping Centre.
Construction and engineering consultancies have advised me that there is a construction void in the market; they have little or no work and which ‘ready to go’ Penlink is ideal to fill.
We cannot keep delaying projects by blaming Auckland’s inability to find the finance – that doesn’t wash. The money is there. The Chamber has written to Transport Minister Phil Twyford suggesting that Government underwrite the project risk and that NZTA front-load the funding required to allow an immediate start.
We will keep pushing and keep you posted.
For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber.