16 Jan 2014

Road officials admit failure

10:17 pm on 16 January 2014

Transport officials in Auckland say they should have consulted better with anxious locals who were in the way of a key new piece of road.

The four-lane motorway extension, which would have sliced through a small south Auckland community, has been abandoned for now.

Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency shelved most of the possible routes for the proposed billion-dollar east-west motorway link, which would have cut through Wymondley Road School in Otara.

The plan sparked public outrage with local residents meeting to organise opposition.

But at a meeting in the school hall on Wednesday night, Auckland Transport's Rick Walden told the community that no new major road links would be constructed south of Manukau Harbour in the next 10 years.

The school's principal, local community leaders and politicians welcomed the decision.

Mr Walden admitted that officials could have talked more with local communities.

"We've acknowledged that if we'd had an earlier conversation perhaps they wouldn't have been surprised in the way that they were. But inevitably when you start that conversation there's concerns. So, we could have done that better, and we've acknowledged that."

There were originally three options, but as of Wednesday night only one remains on the table.

Mr Walden said Auckland Transport and the Transport Agency were now looking at the industrial area of Onehunga and Penrose, north of Manukau Harbour.

The Road Transport Forum acts for the commercial road freight sector. Chief executive Ken Shirley says the group will still push for the only option now on the table.

"Dreadful traffic congestion there - trucks are losing hours on end just sitting in gridlock. That is a critical need and of course it also provides the ladder, as it were, between State Highway 1 and the new State Highway 20. So you actually have the double bypass and the ladder between it. The rungs on the ladder - that was always the concept right back to the 1960s.

Meanwhile, Roger Fowler from the Respect Our Community Campaign says authorities would be foolish to try again a decade from now.

"I would say that they would be extremely foolhardy and naive to even think that this community would just sit back and let them have another go in 10 years' time. There's no way that this community would allow a motorway to be bulldozed through the community."

Mr Fowler says locals were left livid by the earlier plans.