The NZ Herald reports:
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) yesterday announced that it was commencing investigations into a new motorway between spaghetti junction and Hillsborough, along the approximate route first proposed in the 1960s.
The agency confirmed it was seeking community views on the project. While the route is in early stages of investigation, the agency said that it would provide for four lanes of traffic in each direction, with grade separated interchanges at Mt Albert Road, Balmoral Road and New North Road. Connections to State Highway 20 would be provided at its southern end, while links with all motorways feeding the central motorway junction, at its city end, would be provided.
Regional Highways Manager for NZTA, Tommy Parker confirmed that investigations had begun: “Our traffic modelling has shown that even with the Waterview Connection built and with the proposed East-West Link connection to the Southern Motorway, by 2025 congestion in Auckland will be worse than ever, especially for north-south flows across the isthmus.”
“This project has been in the plans since the 1960s, the first section of it was even constructed, which is why the Newton Road bridge is so long and why there’s an interchange between Dominion Road and New North Road,” said Mr Parker. “While we have not yet decided whether the eight-lane motorway will be tunnelled or provided at surface level, we note the likely high cost of a tunnelled option.”
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee was encouraged by the news: “Congestion in Auckland is proposed to get worse and worse, according to my officials at the Ministry. That’s just unacceptable for the country’s largest city, and my officials have informed me that the only way we will avoid congestion getting significantly worse across all parts of Auckland is to significantly expand our motorway network.”
“Anyone who suggests otherwise doesn’t want this country to shift forwards and probably wishes it was still full of dirt tracks,” Mr Brownlee added.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown was enthused upon hearing of the investigations. “Look we’ve got a lot of projects in the works at the moment, but we’ve got to tackle congestion, we’ve got to get the blood really pumping! I’m really excited about this project contributing to the complete transformation of this part of Auckland.”
The concept of a motorway near Dominion Road was included in a 1963 transport plan for Auckland, by international consultants De Leuw Cather Limited. The Plan also included other proposed motorways that have not yet been built in Auckland, such as the Eastern Highway and a Henderson to New Lynn Motorway. The study had been presumed lost for many years, before being discovered in the Auckland University Library by a junior NZTA staff member.
NZTA’s Mr Parker highlighted the agency’s recent discovery of the document: “For many years now people have been saying that constructing the Waterview Connection would complete Auckland’s motorway network. Understandably, this was very distressing news for us at the NZTA as there would have been significant job losses once the Waterview Connection is completed, had we not found this study.”
“You can understand our excitement at discovering a whole series of new projects we can now focus our efforts on. This will keep us in work for many years to come as Auckland’s motorway network is actually far from complete.”
Auckland Business Forum chair Michael Barnett was also pleased with the re-discovery of the document: “We’ve been thinking up motorway projects for years and had just about run out of ideas. We’re extremely pleased to see such a large number of projects and expect them to be completed in the next three years, otherwise Auckland’s economy will grind to a halt.”
A number of Auckland Councillors spoken to had mixed views on the proposed Dominion Road motorway. Mike Lee, chair of the Council’s Transport Committee and Auckland Transport Board Member, spoke passionately against the project when it was unveiled at a council meeting yesterday. “There’ll be blood on the streets! This is mindless provincialism at work here!”
Local Councillor Cathy Casey also spoke passionately against the project: “This is a disgraceful outrage. The motorway will sever communities and destroy thousands upon thousands of homes. Worst of all, it will displace Auckland’s last remaining off-leash dog exercise area.”
NZTA’s board is expected to provide the required $4 billion in funding for the project at their meeting tomorrow.