We are almost one month from a general election and there is all sorts of positioning. All the foot-shuffling has muddied the waters. In this week’s newsletter, we cover all the conflicting and contradicting positions.
HOW FAR WE’VE COME
To demonstrate how much of a mess this year has been, check out this video from the NZTA that was published on 3 May: http://bit.ly/2i74QO8. The problem with the clip is that it didn’t take into account:
the November 2016 AT Business Case for the Matakana Link,
the December 2016 AT results from the Elizabeth Street trial,
the February 2017 NZTA revised traffic growth projections,
the April 2017 NZTA/AT announcement to push forward the Hill Street intersection upgrade, or
the pressures to push forward with the Western Collector.
The clip doesn’t make any mention of dates. As you know, the most pressing issues is the timing of when works commence and are completed.
An octopus has three hearts, nine brains, and eight tentacles. So does Auckland Council.
In trying to clone its parent, Auckland Transport created this mutant:
One branch of the organisation doesn’t know what the other is doing. Not even the Board knows what is going on. It is an organisation of acronyms and no action.
Following TFUG (New Transport for Future Urban Growth), we’ve had the leak of ATAP (Auckland Transport Alignment Project) (http://bit.ly/2vsilLE). The ATAP August update to reflect faster growth mustn’t have been seen by the Auckland Transport Board when they responded to Auckland Councillor Greg Sayers.
Read the letter to Greg here: http://bit.ly/2wRORa2. You will note the usual cut-and-paste spiel about how the other roading projects will ease Hill Street, which we now know is invalid. Also, they claim that Sandspit Road is not at capacity most of the time even though the two teams working on Hill Street say that it is.
But most concerning is this:
Timing for the proposed link between Matakana Rd and Sandspit Rd is dependent on the land use for the North East Warkworth area. Auckland Council’s Future Urban Land Supply Strategy to has the relevant land being released in 2033-2037. There may be some wider land pressures that could bring it forward so we are anticipating the new connection to be a second decade project. At this time the Sandspit Connection will not be built at the same time as the Matakana Link but at a later date.
According to the ATAP leaked report, the Sandspit Link will be pushed forward to the ‘first decade’ from the ‘second decade.’ Someone didn’t get the memo.
Politicians rely on the quality of the advice that their officials provide. They need to provide leadership to make decisions and steer projects to completion. Instead - putting it bluntly - officials have put politicians’ heads in a spin.
There is no direction. We don’t know what direction we are heading in. There seems to be a series of conflicting announcements that create chaos, which leads to a breaking point, and a shambled clarification.
It is one month from an election and there has been no confirmation that Penlink will go ahead. There is a leaked report saying that it might be two lanes instead of four and a proposed rescheduling of its implementation. There is no confirmed method of funding it.
All this is more false hope. There is a sense of déjà vu:
In 2015, National promised 10 one lane bridges in Northland but has yet to build one;
Last year, Matakana Link was announced before the local body elections but the route has yet to be announced;
‘Improvements’ to Hill Street were also announced ahead of the local body elections but turned out to be the half-baked Elizabeth Street trial; and
In April 2016, NZTA/AT announced $2m to investigate and design Hill Street but is yet to announce who will commence the work.
Well, guess what? Auckland Transport “will engage publically [sic] on the short listed options during September. [They] anticipate that works will be completed by the end of this calendar year.”
If any candidates make any public statements regarding Hill Street, we’ll publish them. Next week, the Rodney Times are live streaming a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event. Once we have more details, we’ll let you know.
Just as our newsletter was going to print, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters and Rodney-based Member of Parliament Tracey Martin have doubled down on their previous commitments by announcing today that Penlink and Hill Street will be given the highest priority. See their press release here: http://bit.ly/2wc8rRj.
They go further:
New Zealand First will give high priority to getting the 7 kilometre tolled Penlink Highway back to the original four-lane plan instead of two.
“We agree with the local community and Auckland Chamber of Commerce that downsizing to two lanes is short-term thinking,” says New Zealand Leader and Northland Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“If we are going to do this project, then let’s do it right first time.
“The land is there, the consents are there, the will is there and, according to the Chamber of Commerce, the money is there.
“All we need is for the National government to stop being obstructive.
“For over 20 years residents from Warkworth and surrounding areas have been angered and frustrated by the constant bottlenecks at the Hill Street intersection.
“My colleague, local list MP Tracey Martin, has praised the patience and tenacity of the Warkworth Area Liaison Group and the more recently formed ‘Fix Hill Street Now’ group.
“But the time for talk is over. New Zealand First will ensure that a solution is found for the intersection and funding made available,” says Mr Peters.
The polls and media are suggesting that NZ First could be the ‘kingmaker’ or ‘queenmaker.’ An announcement like this makes them the catalyst and driving force for building Penlink and fixing Hill Street.
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