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.