Traffic triumph in Papakura
Bottlenecks have strangled the southern motorway for long enough and now something is being done to get the traffic moving.
The Government is bringing the $210 million upgrade for State Highway 1 between Manukau and Papakura forward by a decade.
The move was announced in last week's Budget.
"I'm ecstatic, it's been five years of hard slog to get this done," Papakura councillor Calum Penrose says.
The motorway southbound between Manukau and Manurewa will be widened to four lanes and from Manurewa to Papakura to three lanes.
Northbound between Papakura and Takanini will become three lanes wide. The Takanini interchange will be upgraded along with its northbound onramp.
"I have been lobbying for this development alongside the Manurewa Local Board and the Papakura Local Board for the last four years and earlier when I was mayor of Papakura," Penrose says.
"We all see this change as being crucial to the economic development of both local board areas and the region as a whole."
Construction is expected to begin this year and end in the 2016-17 year. The extra funding needed to fast-track the projects comes from a $375m loan to the NZ Transport Agency from the Government. The money had already been allocated to the projects but not until 2026, which is when the loan will be paid back.
The interest will end up costing $32.7m and will be paid by the Government through its operating expenditure over the next four years.
"We also need to use this opportunity to acquire land for the grade separation of the rail line at Taka St, Manuroa Rd and Walters Rd to keep cars off the lines, with the electric trains due to start along the southern line next year," Penrose says.
The $35m revamp on the Papakura interchange was completed in October last year, future-proofing that section of the motorway for an expected population increase.
Papakura MP Judith Collins says last week's announcement is not only a major win for her electorate but also for the whole city.
"The development reflects the growing community and will accommodate increased business activity, she says.
"Local councillors and board members have been fundamental in seeking these improvements to relieve congestion for the benefit of our economy, environment and population."
The agency's closest monitoring station to the area is in Drury and in April 2014 a daily average of 31,562 vehicles headed south along SH1, up from 27,816 in April 2013.
The upgrade is part of an $815m spend on Auckland projects, including $450m on the Northern Corridor of SH1, $140m to upgrade SH20A between Manukau and Auckland Airport, $10m on investigations into the East-West Link and $5m progressing the Panmure to Pakuranga phase of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says freight demand is expected to grow.
"Some of these projects were up to a decade from starting but we've decided they simply must begin sooner to give Auckland the best opportunity of moving people and goods around the region."