Motorway protest revs up

TAO LIN
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2013
Roger Fowler

WORRIED MAN: Respect Our Community Campaign chairman Roger Fowler says Centre Park in Robertson Rd could be affected if option four is chosen for the East-West road link.

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Calls to "stop the motorway" are getting louder as two communities ramp up the protest against the possible destruction of their homes.

The Respect Our Community Campaign arose out of protests against a potential new motorway through Mangere and Otahuhu and has just circulated its first newspaper.

The Government is considering four options for the East-West roading link to move freight faster between East Tamaki and Onehunga.

The fourth option would require the destruction of homes in Mangere and Otahuhu to make way for the new road.

The newspaper features people from the community speaking out against the motorway.

Some of those include Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chairwoman Lydia Sosene, Mana Movement vice-president John Minto, and Otahuhu College principal Neil Watson.

Campaign steering committee chairman Roger Fowler says 10,000 copies have been distributed, mainly in Mangere and Otahuhu.

The campaign is opposing all of the options, not just the fourth, Mr Fowler says.

"If rail was made more efficient, that's the best way to move freight and containers. A motorway will create more traffic, more pollution, more noise."

More than 300 residents turned out for a community meeting about the issue in October, he says. It was held at Sutton Park School, one of the schools that would be affected by option four.

Response to a petition launched at the meeting has been overwhelming, Mr Fowler says.

"This is a heartfelt response. People see it as being vitally important."

The committee is planning to present the petition to Mangere MP Su'a William Sio after it closes on November 30.

But the campaigning won't stop there, Mr Fowler says.

The committee will continue to push public awareness and discussion on the issue, including publishing more newspapers.

"I've lived in the community for 35 years and have been through all sorts of struggles. I have never seen the depth and breadth of feeling [like that] concerning this issue," he says.

Auckland Transport spokesman Rick Walden said in September consultation with local boards and businesses had shown a high need for congestion in the area to be dealt with.

And more work was needed to assess the likely routes before consulting with the public, he said.

Auckland Transport's website says the options are still being investigated and are at "a very early stage".

Nothing is yet definite about what properties or land might be affected, it says.

A meeting between Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency to consider a draft of preferred options is planned for early to mid-2014 and public consultation will follow after that.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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