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Hibiscus Coast residents are keen to see Penlink built as soon as possible to ease congestion on Whangaparāoa Peninsula, Hibiscus Coast Highway and the surrounding area.

Penlink is a 7km, four-lane toll road linking Whangaparāoa Peninsula with State Highway 1 at Redvale, scheduled for construction in the decade starting 2028.

It has the required route designations and resource consents so it’s ready to be built.

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board is advocating strongly for an earlier start date. The local board is also working with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce to bring Penlink forward because of its regional importance.

Local board chair Julia Parfitt says the recent ‘live-zoning’ and more houses in Dairy Flat, Orewa and Wainui will have a big impact.

“Eventually, another 27,000 homes are planned for this area and significant infrastructure is needed to support this anticipated growth.”

Albany Ward Councillor Wayne Walker says Penlink will be an important part of a new transport network for the growing areas of Silverdale, Wainui and Dairy Flat.

“Penlink will free up Hibiscus Coast Highway and the Silverdale interchange by attracting thousands of vehicles a day on the new link, which will be 6km shorter.

“The shorter route will reduce bus travel times from Whangaparāoa Town Centre to Auckland by 15 minutes and cycle facilities on the bridge will open up new connections between Stillwater and Whangaparāoa.”

Penlink will cost $380 million and with tolling estimated to cover only 25 per cent of the project, funding needs to be secured.

Visit the Auckland Transport website for more information.

Penlink development which will provide another route in and out of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. Photo / Supplied

By Michael Barnett

The community is desperate for the Penlink Project to get underway on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

An acid test of new mayor Phil Goff’s leadership will be to ensure the ‘ready-to-go’ Penlink Project gets a construction start in his three-year term.

The project is all about congestion relief for the Silverdale-Whangaparaoa area by building a new 7km road direct from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to the Northern Motorway, and bypass Silverdale, a rapidly expanding business centre which has its own growing congestion issues. Private sector commuters, freight and bus services stand to benefit hugely.

Penlink is ready to go. It is consented. Appeals have been dealt with. The land has been purchased.

There is a strong business case: Benefit cost ratio of 2.9 for four lane version — 5.7 for two lane version. The community desperately wants it — they are sick of 5km of morning peak period congestion everyday and a number of businesses on the peninsula are struggling.

So why isn’t the $380 million construction underway?

The answer that keeps coming back is that there are more deserving projects in south and west Auckland for the limited resources available.

Continued below.

But that excuse doesn’t stack up.

They aren’t ready to go. Besides Penlink’s business case provides for a toll — which the community has agreed to — giving a revenue stream that has potential to reduce the capital cost and cover operating costs long-term.

Penlink is in the central government-Auckland Council aligned project (Atap) programme for the second decade — starting 2028. But this decision was taken before the ‘live zoning’ of nearby Wainui which adds another 20,000 to the population growth of next the 10 years (already the size of a Hamilton).

Without Penlink this development and other potential urban developments in this area of Auckland will be hugely compromised.

In the total scheme of Auckland’s transport investment needs, Penlink is small-scale. A public-private partnership is an option and the private sector is interested, but it is a growing political weeping sore.

Common sense says let’s just do it. Both politically and doing something for North Shore it is win-win.

Surely, the private sector, central government and Auckland Council working together can find a way to build Penlink with minimal impact on Council’s debt levels. I say it could/should be first cab off the rank for the new council — a test case for Auckand Council showing it has a ‘can do’ culture.

Penlink-Bridge

Work going on behind the scenes to push the building of the Penlink Road is beginning to bear fruit, with local board members and developers involved saying there is a significant shift in attitude among the powers that be – including Government and Auckland Transport (AT).

Currently, the building of the road between Whangaparaoa and Redvale has been deferred, with no public investment before 2025-45.

Hibiscus & Bays Local board chair Julia Parfitt and member Janet Fitzgerald, and Top Harbour’s development consultant Michael Webb-Speight are among those working with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce to get Penlink funded and built sooner.

Mrs Fitzgerald says that Auckland Transport is looking at how the Build Own Operate and Transfer model (BOOT) could work for Penlink.

A BOOT is a form of Public Private Partnership that does not require public funding. Ownership of the project extends over a considerable length of time (49 years has been suggested here) so that the company can make a profit on its investment by tolling the road before handing it over to public ownership.

Mrs Fitzgerald says that interest in a BOOT means that the working party set up by the Chamber could produce a proposal for AT.

Mr Webb-Speight says he has also seen a “significant change in position” regarding Penlink on the part of central and local Government, and AT.

He says a BOOT, which he thinks would be a first for this type of infrastructure in NZ, is favoured by companies such as China State Construction, which has previously shown interest in Penlink.

He says that a major construction company could potentially build Penlink as a two-lane road, which is more financially viable, with the designation protected that would enable two more lanes to be built in due course. The four-lane route has been protected, and is estimated to cost $387.8 million.

Last week it was revealed that a high level meeting will soon take place between AT and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce with Penlink on the agenda.

Source website link

Oct. 12 / 2015

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett’s recent presentation about the building of Penlink to “selected developers”, investors, Hibiscus & Bays Local board chair Julia Parfitt and member Janet Fitzgerald concluded that the project must proceed, no matter what.

Mr Barnett said that Auckland Transport needs to be encouraged to provide a clear, simplified pathway for delivery of Penlink as a Public Private Partnership. He said this should include a project description including benefits and costs, an indicative programme for the build, issues and risks.

His presentation, which is linked here [72KB], says that the next step for the group spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce is to form a ‘champions’ leadership team, tasked and resourced to develop a new conversation on why Penlink is needed, what it will deliver and how and when it can be built.

His report says that all channels are to be used to meet this end, including briefing key stakeholders with the aim of “short-circuiting any torpedoes to try and stop the initiative”.

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Oct. 01 / 2015

The thorough questioning by the commissioners as they assessed the effects of 4-laning Penlink during the submissions process, at the hearing on September 22-24, was impressive.

The spokesman for the 830 hectare Weiti Block sought accesses off Penlink to the proposed two new beach front towns, where sections valued at $70 million have apparently recently been sold.

Being only 25 minutes from the city and adjacent to superb white sand beaches, Weiti Bay’s development will be rapid after the Millwater and Long Bay subdivisions are full, and Penlink has been completed.

The Dairy Flat motorway interchange is urgently required to provide access for Penlink and the Weiti Block, to stimulate growth in the Dairy Flat/Redvale area and to provide an alternative route via East Coast Bays Rd. It’s also to reduce traffic congestion on the Hibiscus Coast Highway.

An accident there on September 24 had Red Beach streets gridlocked, traffic stationary at the Red Beach Rd traffic lights and Vipond Rd lights. It was still queuing 14kms back along Whangaparaoa Rd in Manly, at 9.30am. Hibiscus Highway traffic modelling has recently degraded the Level of Service (LOS) on that arterial route from D to E for 2016. This adversely affects consent conditions for the development of the Silverdale North business district. About 40 to 50 vehicles quickly pass through the Red Beach Rd traffic lights each morning at each phase, pre-peak time. Because those 50 vehicles cannot pass directly through the free left turn bottleneck into the Hibiscus Coast Highway every five minutes during peak time, queues on Whangaparaoa Rd lengthen and can take two or three hours to clear. The proposed four-laning of Whangaparaoa Rd will not fix this bottleneck into the highway.

By 2021 traffic congestion will make the Hibiscus Coast Highway and Whangaparaoa Rd arterial routes costly, frustrating, dangerous and problematical for all road users. This will adversely affect growth and confidence in the whole area.

Penlink has a benefit/cost ratio of 3.9 out of a possible four points, plus a strong business case.

Obviously expediting the construction of Penlink to enable the diversion of Whangaparaoa’s traffic away onto Penlink is the only cost effective, long-term solution to fix Whangaparaoa and Silverdale’s growth and traffic pollution issues.

Beverley McLeod Red Beach

See original (screenshot from the source website)

Auckland mayor Len Brown revealed he would be keen to undertake a joint venture with the Government in building Penlink during a press conference at AUT.Photo/KENDALL HUTT

Mayor Len Brown says he is keen to undertake a joint venture with the Government in building Penlink.

The mayor revealed at an AUT press conference that Hibiscus Coast rates would have to rise if just the Auckland Council undertook the project. Brown says he will be looking to make Penlink a ‘‘two for the price of one’’ package deal with the Government, including it with the motorway extension from Puhoi to Warkworth.

Residents have been pushing for the alternate route between the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and Redvale to unclog Whangaparaoa Rd and give them an alternative route out of the peninsula.

Calls for the project, first proposed by the Rodney District Council in 1996 and not expected to be built until 2021, were renewed following the fatal headon collision on Whangaparaoa Rd in January which killed Coral Jobis and blocked the peninsula.

Penlink has been left outside Auckland’s 10-year budget and the subject is a popular topic on social network site Neighbourly.

When asked why this was the case, the mayor said the decision came back to the local community and its desire to keep rates low and manage debt levels.

When asked whether Penlink would pay for itself through tolls, Brown says ‘‘there’s not enough people in Whangaparaoa to recover the debt‘‘.

The project is expected to cost between $370 million to $380m.

– Kendall Hutt is an AUT journalism student

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Source website link (please search article title – Mayor keen for Penlink joint venture with govt)

Feb. 09 / 2015
Jan. 27 / 2015
Major block: Traffic was backed up the length of Vipond Rd from Whangaparaoa Rd to Stanmore Bay after the fatal crash near Marellan Drive. Photo/ JAYBOREHAM

Plea ignored
John Watson Albany ward councillor Auckland Council

In light of the tragic accident on Whangaparaoa Rd, and the consequent gridlock, readers might be interested to know that the opportunity to provide an emergency access connection along this very section of road was ignored despite a strong plea on the grounds of public safety in the event of an accident or Civil Defence emergency.

The continued vulnerability of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to car accidents and Civil Defencetype emergencies is unacceptable.

While the obvious solution is the construction of Penlink, the public should also know that in recent years departments of this council have chosen not to construct an emergency second access that was available.

Since 2006 the Rodney District Council had plans for an emergency access link to be constructed from the end of Matheson Rd through to Poplar Rd as a matter of some urgency.

This was deemed essential in order to provide alternative access to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula for emergency vehicles. This was critical for the safety of Whangaparaoa’s 30,000 plus residents.

The specific section of Whangaparaoa Rd from Marellen Drive through to Vipond Rd has long been identified as a serious point of vulnerability in the event of a major accident or Civil Defence type catastrophe.

This was because such an event on this particular section of the road would effectively cut off the entire peninsula to any form of vehicular access (including ambulances and fire engines).

At that stage the second access to the peninsula could have been provided with a relatively short and inexpensive section of roading.

In 2011 the section of land necessary to effect this link was for sale as a lifestyle block.

It was listed for $369,000 as a private sale.

For the first part of the potential link Watercare had already put a concrete right of way through to one of its pumping stations.

The head of Civil Defence for the new Auckland Council and Auckland Transport were informed of both the need to effect this emergency link and the availability of the land. As far as the purchase of the land went, it would have been close to a cost neutral exercise – once the relatively limited section of the property required for the access was subdivided off, the property could simply have been put back on the market with a view to recouping the purchase cost.

Given the present market this was obviously an advantageous time to be making such a purchase.

This purchase and work was not adjudged an important priority by the council departments and the land has subsequently been sold and built on.

After the January 15 gridlock on this very section of road an AT spokesman was quoted as saying in response to public complaints about the shut down of the entire peninsula that, ‘‘There’s a 200 seat ferry going at 8.45am which is a perfect option on a sunny day like today’’.

This comment shows how out of touch AT is with the important needs of local communities.

Such a response beggars belief – is he seriously suggesting that over 5000 motorists should all turn around and try and catch a 200 seat ferry at Gulf Harbour? As it happened the ferry captain was also caught up in the traffic.

The reality is that AT has no plan to deal with such circumstances if they arise again. The security of a second access would now seem to rest solely with an initiative from a private developer through Penlink.

Roading problems
Lorraine Sampson Silverdale – Abridged

Re roading issues.

When looking at a letter to the editor published during the first years of the Auckland Council it appears the same words can be written now.

[The letter asked what councillors were doing to help Silverdale as people in the area had great concerns over roading issues which were becoming even more important with the Silverdale Centre opening.] At least councillor John Watson is making an attempt to help Silverdale get issues sorted.

Most of the problems in our area are caused by Auckland Transport decisions.

Although the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt and deputy chairman Greg Sayers have worked hard to help us, it appears their hands are tied and it is the councillors who can have more say.

After the tragic incident on Whangaparaoa Rd it is obvious that issues here need more forthright attention by our elected representatives.

We at Silverdale live in hope that more action will taken on roading issues which are affecting businesses. After all, Silverdale is the largest employment area of the Hibiscus Coast.

Get Penlink done
Bill Bell Whangaparaoa

It must be 12 years ago that I attended a meeting at the Leisure Centre and the then opposition National Party representatives stated that Penlink would happen if they became the Government.

Why do we need deaths to make it important? This is not a political rant.

I’ve actually voted for National, but come on – let’s get this done.

Need justified
Kevin Hyde Arkles Bay

The need for the Penlink road across the Weiti River from Stanmore Bay to the motorway has been shown to be justified as urgent.

There has been talk of this link since I have been on the Hibiscus Coast for at least the last 30 years.

With the development of more housing below Wade River Rd and the new supermarket at Stanmore Bay it cannot be delayed another 10 years.

If there is any hold up between Vipond Rd and Marellen Drive on Whangaparaoa Rd due to an accident or road works, then the peninsula is either isolated from Stanmore Bay or traffic is subjected to long delays with queues up to 5km long in either direction.

The sooner the link is completed the better.

Lack of action
Sue Barker Red Beach

I would like to register my concern about the lack of action on the PenlinkWeiti River crossing from Stillwater to Stanmore Bay.

I cannot understand why this was not done at least 10 years ago as it was badly needed back then.

But now it has got to the stage where Whangaparaoa Rd is extremely dangerous at times.

I have lived on the Hibiscus Coast for the past 28 years and was in real estate sales for 20 years until recently.

I have seen many changes and the population has increased considerably since 1987. I have lived in Stanmore Bay and Manly but moved to Red Beach in 2006, one of the reasons being that I didn’t like the busy Whangaparaoa Rd.

As you will be aware, there have been people killed on that road in the past and I cannot understand why the ‘‘powers that be’’ have not gone ahead with Penlink well before this.

I have spoken to a lot of people about it and they all seem to want it to go ahead and don’t mind having to pay a toll for the privilege. It would make financial sense to me to bundle it with the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension.

As I see it, there is still a lot of land out at Gulf Harbour and a crossing would make it easier to house more people out there.

It would also create a safer environment for people to get off the Hibiscus Coast in reasonable time if there was some sort of catastrophe. That alone is a very real possibility.

I would be keen to see Penlink as soon as possible.

See original (screenshot from the source website)

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FATAL CRASH: A woman has died following a two-car crash at Red Beach in Whangaparaoa. Photo / Juliet McGhieQUEUE: Motorists faced significant delays after a fatal crash in Whangaparaoa. Photo / Juliet McGhie

Commuters were trapped at Whangaparaoa north of Auckland for more than two hours this morning after a fatal accident shut the peninsula’s main road.

Motorists had been delayed following the 5.30am accident at Red Beach when police closed Whangaparaoa Rd while they investigated the two-car accident.

There were no diversions in place so nobody could leave or enter the area between Marellen Dr and Glenelg Rd until two city-bound lanes reopened at 8am. All lanes on the road re-opened shortly before 9am.

Police said a female had died and two people were taken to North Shore Hospital with serious injuries after the crash, and drivers faced significant delays as a result.

Auckland Transport earlier recommended motorists consider making alternative travel plans, such as taking the ferry.

“There’s a 200-seat ferry going at 8.45am which is a perfect option on a sunny day like today,” spokesman Mark Hannan said.

The Auckland police serious crash unit was investigating and next of kin were being advised.

A Whangaparaoa Rd resident who didn’t want to be named said a backlog of drivers had given up trying to drive to Auckland.
“People had turned around and gone back,” she said.

“I took my dogs for a walk on the beach just before 7am and when I came back 40 minutes later people were driving away.”

Another resident said the road was “notorious” and was problematic when there were crashes.

“There’s no [road] duplication so if anything happens it shuts the whole thing down,” he said.

“It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. It’s a notorious problem.”

From his home he could see traffic was moving west but motorists trying to get toward the peninsula were at a stand-still.

Bernard Taylor said the crash happened right outside his driveway.

“I’ve just had a look and it’s very messy – a head on crash,” he said.

See original article

Jan. 15 / 2015
A large cordon was in place around the crash site. Photo / Dan HinesPolice warned it could take some time before the road reopened. Photo / Dan Hines
A woman died and two people were seriously injured in an early morning crash that forced the closure of a main arterial route north of Auckland.

The 5.30am head-on collision on Whangaparaoa Road closed the road for more than two hours.

Police named the victim as Coral Jobsis, 23.

Emergency services needed the road closed while they were at the scene and while police investigated the crash.

Police said two people, a man and a woman, both aged 26, were taken to North Shore Hospital with serious injuries.

Whangaparaoa Peninsula residents were frustrated by the closure as residents faced long waits to get in and out of the peninsula.

The road was closed between Marellen Drive and Glenelg Road at Red Beach.

When one lane was reopened traffic was backed up more than 4km to the shopping plaza. At 90am, with the road reopened, traffic was crawling from Manly, 6km from the scene of the crash.

Red Beach resident Graeme Stokes had abandoned his car on Vipond Road and walked as far as he could, and said the queue of traffic went as far as the eye could see.

“When this road is closed we are land locked,” he said.

He said the crash would make many people very late for work.

He said Whangaparaoa Road was a known pinch point and traffic could be heavy, but he’s never seen completely grid-locked before.

Residents frustrated by road closure

Several residents said they were frustrated by the delay of the proposed Penlink connection from Whangaparaoa to the Hibiscus Coast Highway.

Many said the traffic delays experienced today wouldn’t have occurred if there had been an alternative route out of the peninsula.

One Whangaparaoa Peninsula resident said: “We have been waiting for the Penlink to happen for years. However, Len Brown has not obliged us up here on the coast. The population continues to grow and yet rate payers are not heard.”

Commuters heading to the city by car were encouraged to take the Gulf Harbour Ferry instead, but the ferry captain was reportedly caught up in the traffic jam and the departure was delayed.

The crash was a head-on collision and resulted in both cars and debris being spread across four lanes, police said.

Location caused difficulties – police

Police said that because of the location of the crash there was no option to allow traffic to be diverted around the scene via a footpath as there was a bank on one side and the road dropped down to a right-of-way street on the other side.

Three investigators from the Waitemata Police Serious Crash Unit were sent to examine and clear the scene as soon as it could be done, while ensuring an adequate scene examination to allow a crash investigation was carried out.

Fuel from the ruptured tank of one of the cars was spilt across a large part of the road and that had to be cleaned up by the Fire Service to ensure the road was safe to reopen.

“At this stage we’re not able to say what caused the crash, or give any possible indications as to what might have happened,” inspector Mark Fergus said.

“Our thoughts are with the Jobsis family, who have received the worst news possible this morning, and their welfare is our priority.”

By Sophie Ryan

See original article

Dec. 02 / 2014

I have lived on the Hibiscus Coast 12 years.

When we first came here from West Auckland, it was a lovely place to move to.

Unfortunately, since the amalgamation of Auckland’s five councils into one supercity we have seen the services and maintenance of infrastructure that is the Auckland Council’s responsibility dwindle away.

It is now at the point where major money needs to be spent to bring roads and services up to a reasonable standard.

It appears to me that rates are being siphoned off and spent in South Auckland, Central Auckland or on the mayor’s train set, which residents from the Auckland Harbour Bridge north will not benefit from at all.

It now appears that the council has decided to put back major works such as Stage 2 of the Silverdale Park and Ride until 2026 – 11 years away.

The park and ride is already at capacity and the overflow is parking at the Silverdale rugby club. How long will it be before that is full? More building consents are being issued, but there is no money being spent on infrastructure, in particular roading.

If the council does not want to spend any money on this area, then stop issuing building permits.

Large subdivisions are going ahead in Millwater and Whangaparaoa. I believe the latter will be accommodating some 300 homes. That’s a minimum of 300 more cars on Whangaparaoa Rd.

Yet the council has once again deferred Penlink and widening of Whangaparaoa Rd from Red Beach to the Hibiscus Coast Highway.

I leave for work at 5.15am every morning.

When I first started this eight years ago there were not that many cars travelling at the same time. However, now there is a constant stream of traffic.

All people, like me, who have opted to start work early and finish early to avoid the traffic jams of trying to get off the peninsula.

Now you may say, why don’t you take the bus or ferry? The ferry won’t take me to where I work and the buses do not get me to where I work without causing great inconvenience. It is also still cheaper to take the car, but that’s not the main consideration. Until public transport takes people where they want to go when they want to go, it will not be fully used by Aucklanders.
Where is this going to end? We are almost ready to retire, but if things continue the way they are we will be unable to afford to stay in Auckland. It is getting just too expensive to live in both in financial terms and in the time it takes to get anywhere.

I have seen very little evidence of a unified stance from the councillors representing north and northwest Auckland to show that they have strongly pushed to support the Rodney area, which is declining in services and maintenance.

The best outcome I can see is to split this giant behemoth – one from the harbour bridge north and the other from the bridge south.

Len can continue to have his train set, and we will not be expected to contribute to this grand scheme that we really cannot afford.

If we believe in ‘user pays’ then make the areas that will benefit pay.

It is time that the people of the North Shore and Rodney areas stood up to be counted.

It is time that our representatives started actually representing us and it is time that we started looking for someone strong enough to lead us and guide us to split from this massive mistake that is Auckland If the rest of the country is sitting back and laughing at Auckland’s predicament – don’t.

It is only a matter of time before this is foisted on you and then you will be exactly where we were. Sure the system we had before was not perfect, but it was a hell of a lot better than what we have.

Come on Auckland – we need to stand up now.

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Dec. 02 / 2014
Peninsula choke I amconcerned with the access and egress from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

Not only due to the amount of traffic now, but that land development and extra housing should not have been allowed by the Auckland Council until a solution to the mainly two lane roading in and out of the peninsula, which in an emergency would have dire consequences for the area.

The Hibiscus Coast does not seem to get the funding nor the attention to the roading and traffic problems from the Auckland Council.

For residents this is a top priority and our rates payments should be reflecting input from the council in this area.

It is beyond belief that the extra parking for the Silverdale bus station would also be deferred.

If the council wants traffic off the roads then this also should be a priority.

Thanks must go to the efforts of the developers of Fairway Bay for their assistance in getting the council to realise the necessity to improve the Gulf Harbour ferry service.

Perhaps subsidies could be given to regular commuters who have switched from roading to avail of this service.

So, on the one hand we read of cuts to necessary improvements in roading for the peninsula, then read the new council computer system has a blowout of up to $100 million.

I would suggest a Hibiscus Coast resident puts up his or her hand for the mayoral race very early.

We can all get behind the campaign and bring responsible governing for our region and Auckland as a whole.

More accountability has to be given for actions by the new super-city councillors and mayor.

We didn’t ask for this nor deserve to be swept under the carpet either.

See original (screenshot from the source website)

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Sep. 25 / 2014

Firstly, it is with some concern I read Michael WebbSpeight’s diatribe for the third week running grandstanding the benefits of Penlink.

Fancy that, he is a project consultant to Fairway Bay subdivision. Profit-driven do you think? How is it a local business interest can essentially advertise and push their barrow in letters to the editor? Secondly, I take offence to his suggestion that he is expounding the views of most on the peninsula. Not only is he a project consultant but also a mind reader.

I’ve heard Kawau is nice, Michael. How about subdividing that then ask for another bridge? I see through your veil of local concern.

Seriously. Michael Webb-Speight replies: Firstly, I take exception to the suggestion there is a veil involved.

I thought I had been clear on that from the start. We, as in Fairway Bay, have a clearly vested interest in advancing the Penlink project. This is a commercial venture – and hopefully there is profit involved.

The really nice thing is that our commercial interests happen to align with those of the community on the peninsula. Penlink will improve connectivity to Auckland, will reduce congestion at Silverdale, and increase property values.

That would be everyone’s property values, not just ours.

Secondly, I claim to expound the views of the majority because I have asked them about it. We received 1491 responses to our survey on Penlink earlier this year, with over 93 per cent supporting Penlink. This number of respondents represents 6.2 per cent of the usually resident population, or perhaps more significantly, 12.9 per cent of all households on the peninsula. That is a very large sample by any definition. I don’t think it’s mind reading – I think it is maths.

Finally, I’ve been to Kawau Island many times. It is one of my favourite places in the Hauraki Gulf, and I will continue to enjoy the trip by boat.

Fairway Bay is working with the Auckland Council to try and find a way to advance the Penlink project. We are doing this for the same reason that we invested a year into increasing the ferry services to Gulf Harbour. It makes good commercial sense. Like the ferry, we understand that Penlink is also in the interests of the wider community, which we see as a good thing.

So there you have it – no veils, cloaks or even mist.

In the immortal words of Flight of the Conchords – ‘‘it’s business time’’.

And you know I’m down to my socks when I tell you that it’s really time to get involved in the debate around Penlink.

The Auckland Council spent a year putting together a business case for Penlink.

I couldn’t believe it in March last year when they told me it would take until mid-2014 before the business case would be done. I suggested that by then (so far in the future as it was at the time) the information would be completely out of date.

When I told Rodney MP Mark Mitchell about that he agreed.

‘‘Ridiculous,’’ he said. Mark made a few calls, waved his magic wand, and lo and behold the business case was produced in November.

Brilliant.

Trouble is – no-one has yet seen it. Here we are almost a year later and there is no sign that Auckland Transport (AT) is ready to release the business case.

I wrote to Lester Levy and asked to speak to the AT board back in June. I’d been outraged at the lack of attention paid to our elected representatives at the previous meeting.

Accordingly, in front of the assembled board, I echoed the words of Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt, and called for the release of the business case. Levy said at that time that they were considering it, but there was a process involved.

Still waiting, we are.

Councillor John Watson called and said that there appears to be no money in any capital works budgets for Penlink any time soon. He also told me that he understood AT was now amenable to the release of the business case.

I’m interested in that because it might provide sufficient information for private investment to get involved in the funding and under the current hiatus council may be open to looking at alternative models.
Watson was suggesting the current time frame we can look forward to might be something like 2025.

Bollocks, I say.

I’m pretty confident that I reflect the views of most on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula when I say that it doesn’t matter how it’s funded, and I don’t care what the model is.

I don’t care how many lanes or what the toll scenario is, so long as the bridge gets built.
– Michael Webb-Speight is the project consultant for Fairway Bay, a Gulf Harbour residential subdivision

See original article

Sep. 11 / 2014

The old saying about a week being a long time in politics is very true.

It seems like forever since ‘that book’ was published, amid much excitement among certain sectors of the media. Now it’s old news and the PM wants to move on.

You would have to wonder why anyone would be a politician. In her former life Judith Collins was a lawyer – a very good one.

Her clients valued her frank opinion and forthright way of dealing with issues.

I’ve been thinking we could do with someone with those skills on the Penlink front.

A champion.An advocate.

Someone who could really front the project in the world of politics. In search of that person I’ve been talking to the politicians in the Rodney electorate over the past couple of weeks.

The biggest surprise was a meeting at the Conservative Party’s head office. Straight down to business – despite me being half an hour late. Wish I had thought to blame it on the traffic at Silverdale.

‘‘Colin Craig is fully behind Penlink, and always has been,’’ chief executive officer Christine Rankin says.

I’d gone in there thinking I’d need to be careful around those famous earrings from years past.

Nothing.Naked lobes. With that she whipped out a pamphlet from three years ago with a younger, friendly looking Colin Craig pushing the Penlink campaign.

It left me thinking that there is merit in this idea. Let’s see which of the politicians in Rodney will promise to push Penlink if they form part of the next government.

The election isn’t far away and I reckon this is the ideal time to raise it as something of an issue.

Still, it will need your help. Yes, you guys – the 44.8 per cent who spend hours every weekday in long lines of traffic getting on and off the Whangaparaoa Rd.

‘‘What can I do?’’ you say.
‘‘Shout,’’ I say in reply. Shout a lot. Loudly.

Virtual shouting is pretty easy – go on line and email your favourite candidate. Go on Facebook and ‘‘like’’ stuff. Email the editor, call up Radio Live.

Seems to me that one thing we have learned over the last few weeks in the parallel world of politics, is it doesn’t have to be much to make a significant change.

We just need the words to be said by the right people to the right people.

That first lot of right people are you – the driving public living on the peninsula.

Now is the time to stand up and shout about this bridge.

– Michael Webb-Speight is the project consultant for Fairway Bay, a Gulf Harbour residential subdivision

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A strange thing happened yesterday. Fairway Bay chief executive officer Sean Pan told me that he is very encouraged by recent meetings regarding the Penlink project.

This is new and different.

Normally when I raise the topic of Penlink with Whangaparaoa Peninsula residents there is an involuntary response involving the rolling of eyes –with occasional gnashing of teeth.

In my role in the development of the land at Top Harbour, I’ve sat with Pan in a number of meetings on the subject over the last two weeks.

I’m inclined to feel encouraged about this – it has taken over a year to get some of those meetings, and all of a sudden there seems to be a willingness to discuss the matter.

As has been the case for many years with this project, rumours abound about progress or lack of it.
Fairway Bay has been in the fortunate position to receive some quality updates from a number of people who we think know what the story is.

At a meeting of the Auckland Transport Board in June I made a presentation that suggested the timing for a step forward is now.

We can clearly show that there is an explosion of growth on the peninsula – which is occurring now.

What this growth needs to move forward is the infrastructure to support it. The key part of this infrastructure is the alternative access offered by Penlink. This is well supported by traffic modelling data and by that all important field of public opinion.

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell has suggested the same thing. Rodney is absorbing a huge percentage of Auckland’s residential growth and needs the infrastructure.

That’s a really good start – and I’ve been assured from a number of fronts that central government is supportive. We need that support to translate into action.

What we learned at Fairway Bay in the ferry services campaign is that if we create a positive conversation about how things could happen, it opens pathways that can lead to great outcomes.

Penlink deserves your attention now.

Michael Webb-Speight is the project consultant for Fairway Bay, a Gulf Harbour residential subdivision.

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With Mark Mitchell, Rodney MP

Last year at a meeting in my office with Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton, and NZTA representatives, an agreement was reached to update the Penlink business model. The reason for this request was that I felt the old business model was outdated and did not make a compelling case for private investment.

The new report was completed late last year, and I waited for it to be reported on, back through our local government representatives. When the report had still not been made available by June, I requested a briefing from Auckland Transport on the new findings. I was confident that, with the growth we had experienced in Rodney and the Hibiscus Coast over the last 24 months, combined with future growth projections, the case would clearly be made to bring the projected start date for Penlink forward.

It quickly became apparent at the briefing that this was not the case, and in fact indications were that Penlink’s start date was in risk of being pushed back.

The Mayor and I met in my office last month to discuss this.

In this meeting I requested that if there were to be deferral of any capital intensive projects, then it should be the Central Rail Link that is deferred, and not projects like Penlink.

I have spoken with our Local Government representatives and Councillors Penny Webster and John Watson, Local Board Chair Julia Parfitt, Deputy Chair Greg Sayers and Board member Janet Fitzgerald, who are supportive of this position.

I continue to work at both central and local government level to seek a positive result for us.

One thing I can assure you of, is that my position will not change over the fact that Penlink must be prioritised over the City Rail Link.

I acknowledge that the City Rail Link is seen as an integral part of an efficient public transport system for Auckland, but not at the expense of other critical regional investments such as Penlink.

Groundswell for much-needed Penlink road builds on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula

IMAGINE TRAFFIC on the only route to and from town being so bad due to an accident that you have to drive on the footpath and wrong side of the road to get your injured child to hospital.

That was a very real scenario for Manly resident Jill Good, who believes the Penlink road is needed to ease congestion and provide an alternative route to and from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. “In the end I had to drive on the wrong side of the road until I could get her to the A and E. It wasn’t very pleasant,” she says.

And Mrs Good is not alone – more than 92 per cent of those who answered the Fairway Bay-sponsored Penlink Questionnaire agree the road needs to be built soon.

The survey was sponsored by Fairway Bay, a new residential subdivision at Gulf Harbour. CEO Sean Pan says that connectivity to the city is a key factor in many home buyers’ decision making process. “Penlink will make a huge difference to all residents on the Peninsula – not just those who wish to live at Gulf Harbour”

In the evening, queues stretch as far down as the motorway. Auckland Transport says having traffic queuing on the motorway is dangerous as it increases the likelihood of a crash.

Mrs Good not the only one calling for Penlink to be built sooner rather than later.

Of the 1045 people who have filled out Fairway Bay’s Penlink Questionnaire so far, 92.23 per cent believe Penlink is needed.

Almost 90 per cent of the 381 people who answered the PPP section of the survey supported Penlink being built under that model.

Hibiscus and Bays local board member Janet Fitzgerald, who has been campaigning for Penlink for 20 years, says the survey is proof that the road needs to be built.

“We have only one access on and off the Peninsula. As the Auckland Council allows more and more homes to be built there, Whangaparaoa Road is getting busier and busier.”

Not only were accidents a concern but roadworks along that arterial route have also been known to cause delays of up to an hour and a half, she says.

If you are concerned about traffic congestion on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, please fill out the Penlink Questionnaire at www.fairwaybay.co.nz/penlink

FAIRWAY BAY’S PENLINK QUESTIONNAIRE: BY THE NUMBERS

Ninety per cent felt Penlink would help alleviate congestion problems on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula during peak-hour traffic better than widening the existing arterial route.
A little more than 54 per felt the current traffic situation in the region was not acceptable.
Nearly 48 per cent travelled to Albany or further south on a daily basis, while 22.83 per cent travelled several times a week and 21.09 per cent once a week.
More than 95 per cent of respondents did so by car.
Close to 39 per cent would be happy to pay up to $2 to use Penlink and more than 22 per cent $1 if the road was tolled.

The possibility of including the Penlink Road in the contract to be let for the Puhoi to Warkworth extension to State Highway One is being considered by Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency – a process that could fast track the building of the road from Whangaparaoa to Redvale.

Both the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Mayor Len Brown acknowledge that there have been preliminary discussions about including Penlink in the contract to be let for the Puhoi to Warkworth extension.

It is anticipated that this contract could be let before the next General Election, which may be held as early as September next year.

Mayor Len Brown says recent discussions with central Government indicate that the contract for the Puhoi-Warkworth extension and Penlink could be combined.

“It would be logical to get two for the price of one, in a PPP,” the Mayor says. “It’s early days, but the response so far has been positive and I’m supportive of the direction it’s going in.”

NZ Transport Agency’s regional director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town, says an appropriate business case is vital if the Transport Agency is to become involved. Mr Town says it is important to note that while no decisions have been made at this time, the Transport Agency is considering a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the Puhoi to Warkworth extension, and possibly procuring Penlink in the same contact.

There has been a lot of activity behind the scenes related to Penlink since the Auckland Transport board received the updated business case for the project last month but the CCO remains tight lipped saying only that the board will discuss Penlink again early next year.

Hibiscus Matters understands that the board is seeking more information in the interim.

The updated business case is crucial, whether the road is to be built via a PPP or not. A plan entitled ‘Penlink Preferred layout’ prepared by Auckland Transport indicates that the CCO is favouring the option of a four-lane road, which is estimated to cost $200-$250 million. Currently, Auckland Transport’s 10 Year Plan includes around $28 million for the toll road, budgeted for 2021/22, with $10.5 million spread over the 2018-21 period.

Meanwhile a notice put up recently on Auckland Transport’s ‘Request for Proposal’, which seeks “to award a contract for supply of Planning Professional Services to implement the Penlink Planning Strategy to successfully complete an alteration to the designation and obtain all required consents”, closes on December 18.

However Hibiscus & Bays Local Board member, and Penlink Now campaigner Janet Fitzgerald says the messages coming from Auckland Transport are confusing.

She says while on the one hand there have been signs of greater impetus behind Penlink, a recent email to the Local Board indicated the CCO may want to stick with the original start date of 2021 that it has budgeted for.

The Local Board is meeting Auckland Transport this week to seek clarification.

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