East–West Link needed in some form

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 14, 2017

National Road Carriers has welcomed the decision by the Environment Protection Authority‘s independent board of inquiry that the East-West Link Road from Onehunga to Sylvia Park should proceed, despite the new Government cancelling the road in its current form a fortnight ago.

The approval by the board of inquiry nominally gave the New Zealand Transport Authority resource consent to start construction following two months of hearings held earlier this year.

“The decision shows the new road is justified,” said David Aitken, CEO of National Road Carriers. “Now it needs to be followed up quickly with a constructive alternative solution for the area‘s increasing traffic congestion.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the cancellation a fortnight ago, but conceded “there are congestion issues that mean we need to relook at how we respond to the problems that generated the original East-West link plans”.

The link was planned between State Highway 20 from Onehunga to State Highway 1 at Sylvia Park.

“We are keen to see alternatives as soon as possible and happy to work with all parties to help come up with something appropriate,” said Aitken.

Traffic continues to increase in the area and Aitken said some sort of bypass is needed.

“We understand the Government is going to encourage more rail freight by installing another rail line as far as the Southdown/ Te Papapa inland Metroport,” said Aitken. “We back that.”

However Aitken said the incoming freight has to then be distributed from the Metroport, which will require even more than the 6000 daily truck movements that currently pass through the area. It is the busiest road freight transport route in the country.

Metroport alone is handling more than 500,000 containers annually and the Pikes Point recycling depot has 20,000 heavy commercial vehicle trips and many more by light vehicles and private motorists annually.

“Whatever replaces the East-West Link will not only benefit the transport industry, but all traffic which passes through the area,” said Aitken. “It needs to have direct connectivity to both motorways to get traffic away from all the urban streets for everybody‘s benefit.”

With Auckland‘s predicted population growth, traffic volumes are expected to double in the area by 2035.

Church and Nielsen Streets are also a major route for traffic from the eastern suburbs to the airport, which is also expected to generate increased freight traffic, some of which will go to the Metroport for further distribution.

“The urban roads in Onehunga and Te Papapa are going to become increasingly clogged,” said Aitken. “There is no escaping it. A bypass link will give Onehunga and Te Papapa their town and residential streets back.”