29 Jun 2013

Auckland transport 'milestone' welcomed

5:02 pm on 29 June 2013

A multi-billion dollar funding commitment for major Auckland transport projects is being welcomed as providing certainty for businesses and investors in the city.

The Government announced on Friday it will help pay the $10 billion cost of twin tunnels capable of both road and rail under Waitemata Harbour, an inner-city rail link and motorway expansions around the city and out to the airport.

Council for Infrastructure Development chief executive Stephen Selwood says the projects are a major milestone and will shape the city, determining how it will grow for the next 100 years.

He says that will give confidence to both domestic and foreign investors, as they will have certainty about core infrastructure.

The Automobile Association says the commitment to fund a second harbour crossing and rail and motorway extensions will mean drivers shouldn't end up in gridlock.

General manager for motoring Mike Noon says there will still be traffic congestion, but without the projects Auckland would have been in trouble.

Mr Noon says that with a predicted growth of another 1 million people in the city in the next 30 years, long-term investment in a range of transport options is needed.

Campaign for Better Transport says the Government's commitment to Auckland's rail loop project is welcome, but it is regrettable so much funding is still directed towards motorways.

Spokesperson Cameron Pitches says thorough studies have been completed into the rail loop and the benefits it will bring to Auckland but he is concerned the same detailed analysis has not been applied to the roading projects.

Mr Pitches says the Government's continued emphasis on motorways undermines its work to improve the public transport network in Auckland.

Cycle Action Auckland says for a cycle network to be successful it is essential to have good public transport links.

Bringing rail to Auckland's North Shore remains a priority for the chair of one local board, despite the Government's lack of support for the idea.

Devonport-Takapuna local board chairperson Chris Darby says the transport announcements are a win for Auckland and New Zealand.

But he disagrees with the Prime Minister about rail on the North Shore saying bringing trains north of the harbour is essential to the future health of the region and must be made a priority.

The Labour Party says the new transport projects have merit but Aucklanders will be waiting a long time before they can take advantage of them.

The Government has said the cross harbour tunnels should be built in 12 to 17 years. Labour says all the projects are a long way off the Prime Minister hasn't said how they will be paid for, except for the possibility of funding it out of the proceeds from partial asset sales.