Residents can have say on East-West Link plans

Auckland Transport admits the general public should have been involved in talks about one of its major projects right from the start.

Communities concerned about work on the East-West Link affecting their homes and schools have been told they will be better consulted from now on.

Transport planners say they have "sensed" growing concern in the suburbs of Onehunga, Mangere, Otahuhu, Penrose and East Tamaki around the options put forward so far.

The New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are now asking community groups to help them find the best transport solutions to better link the economically growing south-west and south-east of Auckland.

Four possible options for how to better connect the industrial and commercial areas of Onehunga with Highbrook and East Tamaki have been put forward.

One of the options focuses east-west traffic in a "high-capacity corridor" from Mangere to Pakuranga.

The possibility of this becoming the preferred option caused Mangere and Otahuhu residents to form the Respect Our Community Campaign in opposition.

Local boards and businesses have been consulted but so far the general public has been excluded.

That is about to change and residents have been assured there is no preferred option at this stage.

"We know that there are community concerns about a potential motorway solution, but there are a number of ways in which we can meet that demand," NZTA highways manager Tommy Parker says.

"We do not have a preferred option, motorway or otherwise.

"We are asking communities to work with us to find the best possible answer to an important issue that will affect jobs, the streets families live in, and the way people and freight can move safely around."

The area is already heavily congested and with projected job growth there will be more pressure put on roads and transport services.

Auckland Transport spokesman Rick Walden says before sitting down with residents the agencies wanted to to better understand the transport needs, which it did by talking with local boards and businesses.

A meeting set up by Auckland Transport in August was attended by 200 business people. Working with residents is now a priority.

"We've sensed a growing concern in the communities about this approach and acknowledge that we should have we should have engaged the wider community from the start," Mr Walden says.

Communities will be asked to contribute to discussions on better public transport, walking, cycling and roading infrastructure.

An update on where things stand will be added to Auckland Transport website by the end of the year.

Central Leader