Monday, June 14, 2021

Auckland Mill Road decision slammed by local leaders

The Government’s announcement ending Auckland’s Mill Road project has disappointed local leaders.

Auckland Deputy Mayor and Franklin Ward Councillor, Bill Cashmore said while he understood costs associated with the project had ballooned to $3.5billion, residents were unhappy.

“This has been at the top of all the city’s transport plans since its inception, and it will have to be completed one day. The Drury development can only add to congestion and carbon emissions,” he said.

“Congestion is already affecting our quality of life, with transport poverty being a real factor in people’s lives.

“About 5,000 truck trips a day haul aggregate and produce north, and landfill material south, adding to congestion and productivity loss, and increasing our carbon levels.”

Stage one of the SH1 Papakura to Drury project will continue, while stage two’s three-laning and the Drury interchange have been scrapped.

“Eastern Manurewa residents will have to continue watching the trucks trundle their way to the SH1 on-ramp, while the people of the south are being told the congested SH1 from Bombay to Drury will be permanent, probably worse,” Mr Cashmore said.

“That means more stress and uncertainty for those with property adjacent to Mill Road. They can’t sell, buy, or borrow against an unknown value. It’s a tragedy.”

Funding now focuses on safety upgrades to Mill Road’s northern section, public transport and walk and cycleways around Drury.

“There are safety improvements, rail upgrades and new stations but a lot of people are wondering about priorities considering other projects that got funding,” Mr Cashmore said.

His concerns are echoed by Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor, Daniel Newman, who says climate change is being used as an excuse.

“Mill Road is a huge project that will mean properties have to be acquired, and that’s never going to be cheap. But it needs to be done, and if we don’t start, that $3.5billion is going to skyrocket,” Mr Newman said.

Fellow Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor, Angela Dalton, was equally disappointed, raising questions about funding disparities for the south.

“The public perception that cyclists broke the law one week and were rewarded for it the next with the announcement of a $650million cycle and pedestrian bridge, while in the south the six-lane Papakura-Drury motorway and Mill Road projects were dumped, can only be seen as a continuance of the unfairness and inequity faced by the south,” she said.

Manurewa Local Board chair, Joseph Allan says his board has major safety concerns based around the large number of heavy vehicle movements in the area.

“Heavy trucks are ever-present around the Gardens and Hill Road, and crossing can be a nightmare in that area. Because of the frustration at the delays the trucks cause, some of the driving isn’t what it should be, but we don’t want to hear ‘it’s too expensive to fix’. It’s our children that are at risk,” he said.

Mr Allan is calling on leaders to adopt a joint advocacy approach.

“Mill Road would have delivered long-overdue infrastructure to the south. I’ve door-knocked on Redoubt Road and met people living in limbo who now find themselves in a predicament that goes unnoticed by Wellington.

“This is wider than us, Papakura and Manurewa. The south can grow without the restriction of the isthmus to the north, but the lack of an alternative corridor is impacting our ability to realise our potential and will frustrate future economic opportunities.”

Neighbouring Papakura Local Board chair, Brent Catchpole, agrees.

“We understand the need to reduce carbon emissions and that we can’t just keep on building roads, but thousands of our people are caught every day in gridlock,” he said.

“More trains, walkways and cycleways are welcome, but there are a lot of areas with poor public transport. It’s not the city, where a bus goes by every 10 or 15 minutes.”

Franklin Local Board chair, Andy Baker says residents are confused.

“The on-again, off-again nature of the project leaves those within any possible corridor both uncertain and anxious,” he said.

“That’s unfair and poorly considered when, like it or not, roads are necessary to move traffic of all types, even those not fossil fuel-powered.

“More remote communities rely on vehicles. The new stations on the electrified rail network will be great but most people will need fit for purpose roads to drive to big park and rides.”

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