East West Link should be delayed, says Auckland Council planning committee

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett says NZTA needs to keep its East West Link promise.
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Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett says NZTA needs to keep its East West Link promise.

An Auckland Council attempt to delay a major roading project has been met with opposition by the city's Chamber of Commerce.

Auckland Council's planning committee has requested the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) delay plans for the East West Link.

The link is a central Auckland roading project that aims to address transport issues between major industrial hubs in the city.

NZTA's preferred plan for the East West Link through Onehunga.
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NZTA's preferred plan for the East West Link through Onehunga.

NZTA plans to lodge its resource consent application with the Environmental Protection Authority this month for the multi-million-dollar roading project.

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The council's planning committee requests the application is not lodged prior to February 2017.

MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has concerns about the East West Link process.
SUPPLIED

MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has concerns about the East West Link process.

Despite this, an NZTA spokesperson says the agency is going ahead with plans to lodge the application in December.

The Onehunga stage of the East West Link has been marred by controversy with residents saying there has been a lack of consultation and transparency.

Maungakiekie Councillor and deputy chair, Denise Lee, tabled the delay request proposal to the planning committee last week.

The motion passed unanimously.

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The motion said the delay would allow more time for the Onehunga community to be considered by NZTA.

It also said the delay would give a longer submission period which would be beneficial "due to the project's complexity and effects it will have on the local community".

At a public meeting in November Lee said the community and NZTA needed to come together to create "one plan to rule them all".

"We have two designs that are on offer, where is the meeting in the middle?" Lee said.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Michael Barnett said NZTA should keep its East West Link promise and push on with its plans.

"The East West project has been under public engagement and consultation since mid-2014," Barnett said.

"NZTA has had plenty of opportunity to consider all manner of alternative designs," he said.

He said traffic congestion in the Onehunga-Penrose area was costing freight operators millions of dollars a year.

"We need action and NZTA getting this project in front of the EPA as promised is essential," Barnett said.

National Road Carriers chief executive David Aitken also supports the project.

"Based on an average 10 minute delay per trip currently on local roads, congestion is costing freight operators a conservative $50 million a year," Aitken said.

He said NZTA has engaged with the community in "extensive public consultation" over the past two years.

Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga recently said he was not comfortable with current NZTA design.

"It is important that NZTA work with the local community to ensure that the East West Link meets both the transport needs of Auckland and improves traffic flows for Onehunga and the region," Lotu-Iiga said.

Lotu-Iiga expressed his concerns to Transport Minister Simon Bridges and would be meeting with NZTA.

 - Stuff

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