Calls for NZTA to take on Penlink
Penlink proponents are seeking to have the project designated a state highway to get it out of Auckland Council's debt ridden hands.
At a May meeting of the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board members moved to request a report from Auckland Transport on the option of Penlink being delivered by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Board chairwoman Julia Parfit said Auckland Mayor Phil Goff had made it clear the council's level of debt meant they couldn't speed up the project linking the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to State Highway 1 from its 2028 start date, without it having a profound effect on council finances - even as a Public Private Partnership.
"So the best way forward in the mayor's opinion was to have it, through some arrangement, transferred to the [NZ] Transport Agency and central government," Parfitt said.
Auckland Councillors John Watson and Wayne Walker, who also attended the meeting, have written to the chief executives of Auckland Council and Auckland Transport requesting a formal approach be made to NZTA asking for Penlink to be designated a state highway.
Watson said this would address the immediate funding problem and the project would ease an increasingly constrained SH1 from Redvale to Silverdale.
Walker said the big plus to Auckland Council if Penlink was to be classified a state highway was the project would not sit as a debt on its balance sheet.
Since the project was ready to go, if it was enabled sooner it would significantly reduce the final cost, projected to be over $500m if built in the next decade, he said.
"From a government perspective a fast tracked Penlink via NZTA would also enable growth to occur far quicker in the Wainui and Dairy Flat areas," Walker said.
Both councillors plan to meet shortly with NZTA to discuss the proposition.
Auckland Transport's Mark Hannan acknowledged the approach of the local board and councillors to Auckland Transport about changing changing the designation of Penlink to a state highway.
"Any final decision on re-classifying this proposed road as a state highway would rest with NZTA and the government," he said.
NZTA spokeswoman Sarah Azam said if the transport agency was formally approached, it would consider whether Penlink should be constructed as a state highway, and whether or not the Regional Land Transport Programme would need to be varied to bring it forward.
Azam said there was no set requirements for who would need to make the request,.
"However Auckland Transport is the road controlling authority in the area."