Plans to fell pohutukawa
Aucklanders only have two days left to have their say on the controversial plans to upgrade the St Lukes Road Bridge, which would include the removal and replacement of six pohutukawa trees.
Submissions on the $70 million project, which makes up one part of the SH16 St Lukes to Great North Rd Interchanges upgrade, close on Thursday.
New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) highways manager Steve Mutton said the submissions gave people the opportunity to voice their views and concerns.
The current proposal for an additional left hand turn onto St Lukes Road Bridge, to handle the predicted change of traffic when the Waterview tunnels opened in early 2017, required the removal of six pohutukawa trees, Mutton said.
However, it also included the replacement of the removed trees with six 6-8 metre-tall semi-mature pohutukawa trees, he said.
"We acknowledge, however, that the community does have concerns about the removal and replacement of the trees at the St Lukes interchange."
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannah said once submissions closed the proposed plan would go through a hearing process with Auckland Council.
It was not clear when a final decision would be made, Hannan said.
NZTA spokesman Ewart Barnsley said work on the larger project had already begun and the St Lukes Rd Bridge improvement was due to be completed late 2016.
NZTA is currently widening the Northwestern Motorway (SH16) from three to four lanes in each direction, and improving the St Lukes motorway ramps.
As part of the project, Auckland Transport was funding improvements to the St Lukes Road-Great North Road intersection and widening the St Lukes Road overbridge, NZTA said.
St Lukes was the last of six related projects to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern motorways and complete the Western Ring Route, identified by the Government as one of its Roads of National Significance to help improve the economy and road safety, NZTA said.
When finished the Western Ring Route would provide a 47km-long alternative to SH1 between Albany and Manukau.