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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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