Penlink & Transport

OK, so I have the advantage of writing this when we’ve just had an announcement that seemingly pushes Penlink out to an earliest start date of 2028 and is the only major investment of any type for transport between 2018 and 2038. It’s ridiculous and also defies the truth. Read the Chamber of Commerce’s Michael Barnett’s press release:

21 September 2016

Media Release

Penlink – Auckland mayoral and council candidates challenged to support “fast track” action to complete the project within 10 years.

Laying down the challenge, Head of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, Michael Barnett, said that of all the projects listed in the just-released Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), Penlink was alone in meeting conditions for action set by the Government and Auckland Council.

Mayoral candidates should note:

• It is ready to go. It has consent and business case showing a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 2.9, giving it a rating higher than a number of NZTAs ‘Roads of National Significance’ projects.
• The estimated cost is a modest $290 million, compared to the billions of dollars of other larger projects, Travel time savings of up to 15 minutes.
• Funding options include combining a toll of around $2-3 a trip for users and a targeted transport rate for non-users in nearby suburbs that will benefit from less congestion in getting access to State Highway 1 – Millwater, Wainui and Silverdale West.
• Private sector investors have approached the Chamber stating interest in undertaking Penlink as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) where they finance, build and operate the road while AT pay for it to be open. A conversation is also underway with NZTA to undertake the works linking Penlink to SH1 south of Silverdale.

While the ATAP presentation identified Penlink as a priority it was ranked for construction in the decade starting 2028. “That’s completely unacceptable,” said Mr Barnett.

“Daily congestion currently stretches around 5 kilometres most working days. Population growth is among the fastest in Auckland, and recently the Housing Accord has flagged a Wainui development of up to 18,000 new residents in the next few years.

“Over the next 10 years one thing is certain – without Penlink completed congestion will get worse, much worse.”

“I note that Transport Minister Simon Bridges has said that some projects could be brought forward. Penlink must be one of them and with no more delay, no more excuses, said Mr Barnett.

The truth on Penlink – as best I understand it.

  • the land required for Penlink is all under Council control
  • the road’s designation is finalised
  • the Developers who were objecting to Penlink on the Southern side of the Weiti have negotiated what they wanted and they’re good to go
  • private investors are lined up
  • as a private road, ratepayer costs for Penlink will be absolutely minimal. Certainly the vast bulk of its cost will be user pays so there is little impact on rates elsewhere, unlike the Central Rail Loop which is costing each ratepaying dwelling in Auckland around $6,000 each – so in other words, for most people, 2 to 3 years of their rates
  • there will be a park and ride at the Southern end of the Penlink encouraging commuter transfer to buses in to town and beyond
  • there will be a walkway and a cycleway and I hear a bus priority access option of some sort although I don’t know the detail of that

I support Penlink as it provides easier emergency access to the Peninsula, it increases the flow speed of traffic, it increases people transport mode options, it facilitates better bus access around the area and with private backing, it should cost ratepayers almost nothing. We need smart thinking PPP/BOOT processes in more infrastructure investments in Auckland. Penlink can lead the way.

Silverdale

The business people I’ve spoken with in Silverdale have been seeking an answer to the access issues from the Silverdale Village and around to the business hub. We need

  • traffic lights at the intersection of Silverdale Street and the Hibiscus Coast Highway
  • the completion of Curley Ave through to the East Coast Road intersection with Hibiscus Coast Highway
  • footpaths that allow people to circuit a route from Silverdale Village to the Whangaparaoa Rd intersection, down to Titan and then linking to the steep path down in to Flexman Place
  • a footpath access from the new Silverdale Bus Station through to Silverdale Village (finishing Curley Ave provides what is arguably the best solution to that issue)
  • disabled access points at all the pedestrian crossings in the environs
  • a shuttle bus that safely moves people through the new shopping precinct, the Village, and the business district with its direct sales businesses.

We’re letting Silverdale down as it stands and this area needs priority correction. Once these projects are done, in conjunction with the results from Penlink we can truly unlock Silverdale. This then begins the much needed growth of job opportunities in our area. That then delivers a knock on effect to commuting volumes from the area to elsewhere in Auckland. Win/win/win!

One thing we don’t need though is the much vaunted dynamic laning of a tiny stretch of Whangaparaoa Road. This will be a multi-million dollar waste of money. If elected I’ll be lobbying to get those funds spent on Silverdale’s real issues. Issues that can genuinely be impacted with the millions it will cost, not just doing something for appearances.

Feeder Bus Services

When I have to hear stories from voters who are stuck in a bus at a red light beside the Silverdale Bus stops and watching their connection leave for Auckland and then have to wait 20 minutes for the next bus I am saddened. If we want people to use public transport, it has to actually work! We need a small network of feeder buses that are delivering people to the Bus station at regular intervals to feed larger express city buses (and others) that express deliver to the City, also at regular intervals. This network encourages bus patronage and gets cars off the road. It reduces the pressure on the parking facility and ultimately meets our needs better. I support a network of smaller, more frequent buses getting you away from close to home to the Bus Terminal to get one of many frequent buses taking you near where you need to be.

North Shore Trains

This is a pipe dream within what I consider a feasible look forward period. We need the bus network finished and operating as an absolute priority. Let’s stop being distracted by trains. Let’s get a busway, ideally to at least Orewa (remembering the North Shore now ends at Te Hana), and then lets feed the Park and Ride Bus Stations at Penlink South, Silverdale and Orewa. Let’s really deal with the issues of today and a reasonable way in to tomorrow with flexible, easy to use, easy to get close to you, buses, ideally electric!

 

Let’s control weeds without chemicals

Back in July, before anyone else had even declared their candidacy for these elections, I announced six key areas for me to advocate in if I was elected for the Local Board. I’d already attended every Board public meeting up till then and I’d read much about people’s passion for chemical free weed management across Auckland. We here on the Coast seemed just as adamant and concerned as everywhere else. Why Auckland Council has continued down such an unpopular path when clear natural alternatives exist is quite beyond me. Here’s what I wrote in my July 7 article:

A recent scientific study by chemical manufacturers has declared that Roundup may not be a carcinogen. Hardly a conclusive study! It is my belief and seemingly the view of most of our local residents that we don’t want Roundup or any other chemical based weed control in our area. I am 100% behind moves to ensure that any Glyphosate based chemicals be banned from Auckland Council weed control programmes. I’m more than happy that manual and water based weed control may cost more, but will ensure that we have invested in healthy ways to deal with the issue. Do we really want the possibility of looking back in 30 years and finding that a little more money would have prevented multiple negative health incidents?

For me, I don’t need “facts” on this. I know how deadly Agent Orange was to the American  Alliance’s soldiers after Vietnam. I know they were told it was safe. I know the best studies in the world can not beat the evidence of time. I see no reason other than a little bit of money why we continue to use the chemical solution. Let’s keep standing up for this. Let’s spend that little extra and let’s stay safe in ourselves and in our places we call homes, streets, and the rivers and oceans those streets spill their storm water in to. Let’s make Auckland Glyphosate free.

It’s not an issue that requires more words. It’s quite straight forward. If you agree, join in the movement at Spray Free Streets.