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Welcome to "About exotic cars". A news- and photoblog about exotic cars, common cars and car experiences.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Transit NZ blowout points to road tolls

Tolls look increasingly likely on Auckland's western ring route as Transit NZ faces a ballooning cost estimate for a key component - a duplicated Manukau Harbour crossing.

An estimate of $265 million found on the agency's website yesterday is $60 million more than indicated as recently as May, when the Government made a Budget pledge to "substantially" complete the project in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

That is two years earlier than a previous target for a duplicate Mangere bridge and widened motorway approaches, requiring hectic preparations for kicking off construction in 2008.
Transit wants to provide four traffic lanes and a shoulder lane reserved for buses in each direction across the harbour, and to widen the Southwestern Motorway along State Highway 20 to three lanes for about 2km on each side of the bridge.

It also wants to substantially demolish the old Mangere bridge, which was built in 1913 but has been closed to traffic since being replaced 22 years ago, and to build a new structure for walking, cycling - and recreational fishing.

That may require a line of piles to protect this from being struck by ships using Onehunga Wharf, as is understood to have happened 12 times in the past 20 years to the old bridge.
Although Transit has already lodged applications for resource consents with local and regional authorities, ready for public notifications and hearings before the end of this year, it faces tough challenges on both design and funding fronts.
It is having to reconsider details of a proposed interchange on the Onehunga side of the harbour, after Auckland City Council consultants raised concerns about potential visual and other impacts on the local community and a volcanic crater in Gloucester Park

Describing this as a "primary gateway feature" to the city for visitors arriving from the airport, they have prompted Transit to review a proposed full diamond interchange rising to a bridge across the motorway.

Pamphlets the agency is distributing this week to local residents show a 7m high bridge over the motorway, but omit details of on and off-ramps while promising to continue extensive investigations of "the best ways to integrate the interchange into the urban landscape."
It has also disappointed some residents and Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee for not "future-proofing" the bridge by making structural provisions for it to carry a possible railway link.

Residents to the south of the harbour, particularly in the suburb of Mangere Bridge, are meanwhile keen for assurances that their movements across it will not be unduly constrained by tolls to help to pay for the project.

Transit is not discussing tolling details before its board decides whether to put up a solid proposal for public consultation, a process which has already been delayed by four months.
But it has warned previously that without tolls, the 50km western ring route from Manukau to Albany may miss a target completion date of 2015 by at least 10 years.

Although Transit has an assurance of Government funding to cover the Mangere bridge project as a priority in time for the international rugby event, it faces a $1 billion-plus bill to extend State Highway 20 through Mt Albert to Waterview.

Mangere Bridge Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Roger Baldwin said last night that the community life of his suburb relied heavily on free movement across the harbour, and it would be unfair to suddenly start charging local people to come and go.

He said many residents often crossed the existing bridge several times each day, whether for work, shopping or social purposes.

Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis said he accepted that tolling the western route was the only way to ensure it could be built within 10 years, but was keen to ensure local residents were not burdened unfairly.

He was also seeking support from Transit on equity grounds for tolls to help his council and Auckland City to build a new arterial road from Botany Downs to Pakuranga, Panmure and Glen Innes.

Bron: NZherald.co.nz


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