Two years too long for Te Atatu Rd

Phil Twyford is the MP for Te Atatu. He says Auckland Transport's excuses for the length of time taken to complete the ...
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Phil Twyford is the MP for Te Atatu. He says Auckland Transport's excuses for the length of time taken to complete the roadworks doesn't wash.

OPINION: Two years of torment are coming to an end, and not before time.

The roadworks on Te Atatu Rd have stretched the patience of west Aucklanders to the limit.

Local businesses have taken a hit. Residents have suffered disruption. Drivers have put up with long delays.

Club Physical CEO Paul Richards says his business has lost money due to the roadworks on Te Atatu Rd.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX NZ

Club Physical CEO Paul Richards says his business has lost money due to the roadworks on Te Atatu Rd.

But the question everyone is asking me is this: why has it taken so long?

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It is a humble 1.4 km stretch of suburban road. For heaven's sake the $1.4 billion Waterview Connection, tunnels and all, only took four years.

National Party list MP and minister, Alfred Ngaro, speaking to Higgins staff during a Te Atatu Rd site visit.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX NZ

National Party list MP and minister, Alfred Ngaro, speaking to Higgins staff during a Te Atatu Rd site visit.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge took four years. The Sky Tower took less than three years to build.

But Tat road is taking two years? Seriously?

I'm sorry Auckland Transport, your explanations don't wash.

Residents such as Luke Neilson were worried about the bottlenecks on Te Atatu Rd and the ongoing traffic delays.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX NZ

Residents such as Luke Neilson were worried about the bottlenecks on Te Atatu Rd and the ongoing traffic delays.

No matter that the underground wires and pipes were a complicated mess, or that there were no decent records on file. It's not rocket science.

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It just shouldn't take that long. Not when day after day there was hardly any sign of activity.

Not when there have often been only a handful of workers on the job.

Not when it could have been speeded up by working weekends and holidays.

I know the workers need time off like everyone else but why not create extra jobs by working outside of business hours to accelerate the project?

The project has left a long list of disgruntled people in its wake and a community that feels let down and taken for granted.

The first were the 111 residents who lost metres off their front of their properties and were initially offered as little as $12,000 in compensation. Several years of negotiations later some settled on $40,000 plus.

That might sound like a good pay out but they lost a chunk of their frontage and have had two years of huge disruption.

Think of the businesses. Club Physical owner Paul Richards has been the most vocal and good on him. He reckons the roadworks have cut his turnover by $3000 a week. He calculates he has lost

$160,000 in lost turn over since the works began. He has had to reduce his staff by five. Auckland Transport invited him to apply for compensation, but when he did, AT lawyers told him he had no case.

There are 10 businesses affected by the works. The cumulative cost to local firms and the local economy is significant.

Rex and Marylyn Hurley, who have lived on Edmonton Rd for 58 years, told me the 21 months of disruption at the front of their property left them stressed out and unable to sleep. The noise, and the constant dust from the roadworks made life miserable, not to mention that breaking up of the curb flooded their front yard every time it rained.

For people living in the neighbourhoods off Te Atatu Rd it has been a nightmare. There have been long queues of cars at the Jaemont lights. Just getting from their driveway to the motorway has been taking about as long as the whole commute should take if the transport system was working properly.

All this, for what?

The same number of lanes of traffic. No dedicated bus lanes that would at least have speeded up buses getting to and from the motorway. Cycle lanes which could have been routed away from Te Atatu Rd anyway.

The painted median strip down the middle will mean turning traffic will not block the flow, and that at least is something.

But $30 million and two years of pain later I think most people are highly doubtful it has been worth it.

The only real solution is the long awaited North West Busway that will reduce congestion on the motorway and feeder roads at peak hours, just as the Northern Busway has done on the North Shore.

 - Stuff

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