Local politicians are hoping that the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) will add Penlink to its list of national roading projects.
Hibiscus & Bays Local Board chair Julia Parfitt says approaches to the transport agency began in recent months as NZTA enlarged its focus, working closely with Auckland Transport (AT) on “a one network approach”. This means Penlink would not need to be designated a state highway in order to be taken on by NZTA, she says.
The local board requested a report that it hopes will detail what would be required for Penlink to be taken on as a national project. Mrs Parfitt says one of the keys could be looking at the business case again and factoring in a lane each side for T2 (cars with two or more people in them) and trucks, leaving two lanes for other traffic.
NZTA spokesperson Peter Clark says the transport agency understands the pressures that population growth has contributed to in the areas around the planned Penlink project and is aware there is some desire for Penlink to be constructed as a state highway. “If the transport agency is formally approached it would consider whether Penlink should be constructed as a state highway and whether or not Auckland Transport’s Regional Land Transport Plan would need to be varied to bring it forward,” he says.
Currently the building of the four-lane road, which links Whangaparaoa with Redvale via a bridge across the Weiti River, has been deferred by AT, with no public investment before 2025.
Auckland Councillors John Watson and Wayne Walker have written to the chief executives of Council and AT requesting that a formal approach be made to the transport agency asking that Penlink be designated as a state highway.
If this happens, the road could still be built as a Public Private Partnership, and tolled, but central government would carry the debt – something Auckland Council is not in a position to do.
The last time the road was to be taken on by NZTA was in 2008, when the Labour government agreed to fund 80 percent of the cost via a regional fuel tax. The tax was scotched by the incoming National government in early 2009.