Community feedback is being sought on the preferred approach identified by the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport for the East West Connections project to improve freight connections into and out of the Onehunga-Penrose industrial hub as well as the reliability of bus services between Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park.
East West Connections (along with AMETI) was identified in the Auckland Plan as one of the top three transport priorities for Auckland. The investigations into this project also form part of the Auckland Accelerated Projects capital funding package included in the 2014 budget and is a key priority for central government.
For Onehunga-Penrose a staged full connection on the north side of the Māngere Inlet between SH1 to SH20 has been identified as the best long-term solution to the current transport issues.
The Onehunga-Penrose industrial hub is a significant economic area for Auckland and New Zealand, contributing $5 billion a year in GDP and employing more than 64,000 people. Many of New Zealand’s largest distribution and logistics facilities are located there because access to both state highways and connections to the rail network create efficiencies in freight movements for Auckland and the Upper North Island. This area currently suffers from significant congestion, especially at the approaches to SH20 and SH1, which hinders freight movements and ultimately restricts productivity and economic growth.
Brett Gliddon, the Transport Agency’s Highway Manager for Auckland and Northland, says the preferred approach for Onehunga-Penrose will improve the reliability of freight journeys in the area and will provide an additional route which makes the transport network more resilient for all users. It will also improve pedestrian and cycling facilities and connections for buses and general traffic. In addition to the transport improvements, there are opportunities to achieve some positive environmental outcomes, particularly for the Māngere Inlet.
“This project is all about improving access into and out of Onehunga-Penrose. For this reason the new connection is expected to be a “limited access” state highway, not a motorway” stressed Mr Gliddon.
“We are still in the early stages of the project and we would like feedback from the community to help us further develop the project. We encourage people to let us know what they think” says Mr Gliddon.
As well as the approach for Onehunga-Penrose there has been substantial work undertaken to identify how to speed up bus services between Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park and improve connections. These improvements are aimed at supporting Auckland Transport’s Frequent Network, which will have buses and trains at least every 15 minutes from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.
Auckland Transport’s Key Strategic Initiatives Project Director, Theunis Van Schalkwyk, says that the plans propose bus priority and transit lanes at key pinch points along the future Frequent Network bus route.
“Buses often get stuck in traffic, for example along Massey and Walmsley roads. The average travel time between Māngere and Ōtāhuhu at 8am is 22 minutes, but congestion and queuing can slow this down to half an hour. Similarly the bus journey between Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park can take anywhere between 17 and 29 minutes.
“Bus and transit lanes would speed up bus journeys and, most importantly, make sure passengers can rely on the travel time. We are also proposing sheltered bus stops along the route, upgraded bus stops at Ōtāhuhu town centre and an upgraded bus station at Māngere town centre.”
New facilities are also proposed along the route between Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park to improve cycle and pedestrian safety.
The Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are planning a series of open days this month. They are encouraging people to come along to find out more about the projects, ask any questions you may have, and provide feedback on the preferred approaches.
Dates and locations for the open days are:
To find out more about the projects or to provide feedback you can also visit the NZ Transport Agency or Auckland Transport websites: www.nzta.govt.nz/east-west(external link) and www. at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/east-west-connections/(external link)
For more information please contact: