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Crash closes road

CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014
Car crash

BAD CRASH: A serious crash on Whangaparaoa Rd in Red Beach on Thursday at 6.20pm brought traffic to a standstill until diversions were put in place. The van driver was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

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A serious crash that forced Whangaparaoa Rd to close for four hours created major peak hour traffic delays last Thursday and highlights the dangers of single main road access on the peninsula.

A man was taken to Auckland City Hospital in a serious condition after his van hit a traffic island and veered across oncoming traffic into a metal barrier before stopping in the middle of the road near Red Beach.

Two children in the van had minor injuries.

"At this stage the cause of the crash is unknown," Waitemata district police communications manager Beth Bates says.

"The Waitemata Serious Crash unit attended and will be investigating."

The area was closed from 6.30pm to 10.30pm with traffic diverted down Red Beach Rd and Marellen Drive. Some motorists reported delays of more than 80 minutes travelling from Silverdale to Stanmore Bay.

"The crash and traffic issues proves once again that when you live on a peninsula you need alternative routes," Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says.

"We have been told Whangaparaoa Rd is close to peak volume. We need Penlink."

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell says he met Auckland Transport chief executives, senior managers from NZTA, local board members and the Penlink Now Team last year.

He asked for a commitment to update a Penlink business model for the second peninsula access link from Redvale to Stanmore Bay, crossing the Weiti River.

That model is due to be presented at the end of this month.

"The idea of the business model is to clearly demonstrate that we need to bring the project forward because of the changes we are experiencing with the amount of growth," Mitchell says.

"Penlink is currently in the long term plan in 2019-2020. We want to see it delivered in 2015-16.

"The business model will be a catalyst. It's the only thing that will flip the switch, and that's why this is a huge achievement to get it done."

An Auckland Transport board decision on Penlink is expected in coming months, its media manager Mark Hannan says.

"We are continuing to implement the planning strategy required to update the designation and associated resource consents, some of which have already expired," Hannan says.

The AT project team will soon begin specialist assessments of the Penlink route.

"More formal consultation and communication with the public and key stakeholders will begin if a decision to proceed is made."

Penlink Now Team and Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member Janet Fitzgerald says the local board is making a submission to AT this month and the business model is being presented.

"We are hoping for a result soon after that.

"Auckland Transport has given the tender for the design work and updated the consents needed.

"All of that is due to be completed by February 2015," she says.

"When that is done and if the business plan is convincing it looks like the project may be brought forward."

Local board member Greg Sayers says mayor Len Brown is meeting Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee within a fortnight to gain the government's commitment as a project funding partner.

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He says some $200 million for the Weiti River bridge will come from Auckland Council, NZTA and a private business partner.

Mitchell says public private partnership funding Penlink seems an obvious solution to the ever-increasing traffic on Whangaparaoa Rd. But some prefer other options. Auckland councillor Wayne Walker says the main focus should be to improve public transport.

"I've advocated for Penlink. I don't put all my eggs in a basket, so at the same time I advocate on things I can deliver now," Walker says.

Penlink is not a popular choice with a number of Stillwater residents.

"While 100 per cent of the local board representatives support the project, we are aware it creates some concern for communities like Stillwater," Parfitt says.

"There will be an opportunity to look at specific concerns as the project progresses."

- Rodney Times

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