Greens reassure Auckland: Eastern Highway won’t happen

Auckland Green MP Keith Locke has accused John Banks and Barry Curtis of misleading the public over the proposed Eastern Highway.

“The two mayors are deceiving the people of Auckland by presenting the Eastern Highway as a done deal,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s associate transport spokesperson.

“This project has no chance of going ahead and it is just absurd for Mr Banks to say, as he did yesterday, that ‘in three year’s time the eastern corridor will be being built’ and ‘it will be funded’.

“Transfund does not have funding for the highway approved in any of its advance plans and it is now bound by a new Land Transport Strategy, developed by the Government with the Greens. Under this strategy every project has to meet a set of environmental sustainability, social and economic criteria, which the Eastern Highway clearly doesn’t.

“Even at the ‘reduced’ price of $2.5 billion the highway would be simply unaffordable. There is no way it could be funded adequately through tolls, which would have to be at a level which would drive all but the wealthiest motorists onto other routes.

“It is also wrong to present this project as one which has the endorsement of Transit, even if Transit members may be part of discussions around the project.”

Mr Locke said the Mayors’ comments also failed to take into account the new system of transport governance for Auckland legislated recently. The new Auckland Regional Transport Authority would have to assess whether projects such as this were a priority for funds, when compared to the pressing need for investment in public transport and demand management.

“The only serious solution to Auckland’s transport problems revolves around making it easier for people to leave their cars behind,” said Mr Locke. “That means providing quality public transport, better walking and cycling facilities and superior local services so people don’t have to drive kilometres to meet their needs.

“The two Mayors should stop their bluster, stop their unnecessary scaring of residents, and admit that their pet project isn’t a runner,” said Mr Locke.