Congestion fears as rail solution questioned

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Traffic congestion concerns for residents north of the harbour bridge are raised in a report on the state of the nation's infrastructure.

Substantial investment in the City Rail Link won't help workers and residents with limited access to rail, says the Treasury unit advising government on infrastructure.

"Congestion can also be expected to worsen significantly throughout much of the city as more residents are compacted into urban areas without supporting transport linkages," the report says.

But, Auckland mayor Len Brown says the rail link has the support of Aucklanders and will reduce congestion throughout the region.

"A recent Horizon Research poll of 1080 Aucklanders found 64 per cent of Aucklanders support the CRL, while only 14 per cent oppose it.

"Among the 171 North Shore residents surveyed, there was 55 per cent support with only 16 per cent opposed."

Mr Brown says the rail link will reduce congestion on main feeder routes into Auckland CBD, particularly form the west and south, but also from the North Shore.

North Shore investments include extending the northern busway, new bus routes and ferry service upgrades, he says.

The infrastructure report says value for money is another concern because congestion is forecast to worsen despite $20 billion worth of proposed spending

And, there is no solution yet to the $10b to $15b funding shortfall. Even if half the cost is met by government, debt and interest payments of $700 million over 30 years equate to a 50 per cent rates rise or 45 cents a litre petrol tax, the report says.

Mr Brown says new funding tools are being sought.

"Investigations into community attitudes on alternative funding for transport were undertaken earlier this year and a Consensus Building Group made up of transport user and community representatives is now considering the findings of that study."

A report has also been commissioned to answer government questions on the the City Rail Link.

"That study is expected to be completed shortly," Mr Brown says.

"This will directly answer the government national infrastructure unit's questions about the City Rail Link's value for money. It's the result of nine months of collaborative work with government ministers."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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