Eastern Rockies Corridor

Eastern Transport Corridor

The Eastern Transport Corridor in Auckland, New Zealand, is a transport reserve along a strip of land and water some of which is occupied by housing, commerce, industry and local roads. It runs adjacent to the North Island Main Trunk Railway freight and passenger railway line, but is earmarked for major transport intensification to improve links from central Auckland to the north-eastern half of Manukau city - suburbs such as Pakuranga and Howick.

Historically, it was to provide the route for an additional motorway connecting through the Isthmus from the east into the Auckland CBD, but local community resistance made the project fail in the 2000s.

Proposed motorway

A strategy study in 2002 stated a need for a new motorway to be built in the corridor (as had been planned decades ago) for a variety of reasons including the need to make suburban streets safer and less polluted. In March 2004 Auckland City Mayor John Banks proposed massive motorway scheme through Hobson Bay. There was substantial community and political resistance to the motorway scheme, largely due to the extreme cost of the proposal (equivalent to four years of the entire country's transport funding budget) and the impact it would have on a number of established neighbourhoods and several environmentally sensitive areas. However, there were also groups that defended it, citing the projected economic gains, and the benefit it would have on the traffi volumes on Tamaki Drive. A revised plan published on 25 August 2004 reduced the number of lanes substantially (2-3 lanes + bus lane in each direction depending on the section), reducing the financial and ecological impact. Banks said he hoped the scheme would be acceptable to the opponents of the scheme, even though around 1,200 houses would still have to be demolished or otherwise affected. Depending on the connection to the CBD, the scheme would have either entered the city on a widened western Tamaki Drive section after crossing Hobson Bay, or gone through a tunnel under Parnell. The Purewa Creek section was to be aligned on an elevated expressway to avoid damage to the environmentally sensitive area, while the motorway would be sunk into trenches in Glen Innes to reduce disruption. However the costs and impact were still high (with a worst case estimate of NZ$3.9 billion) and at that point the corridor was fast becoming a political boondoggle. The proposed motorway was one of the principal points of contention in the 2004 local body elections and contributed to the defeat of Banks.

The Auckland City Council transport and urban linkages committee decided on 10 December 2004 to scrap the planned motorway component in favour of improved public transport and increased capacity on existing local roads. However the transport reserve remains in place, allowing for the motorway to potentially be undertaken at some point in the future if it becomes economically and politically feasible. Additionally, the Council has undertaken to begin a program to purchase a small number of the most affected properties along the route.

Due to the very high cost of the project, the roading component of the ETC would not be likely to proceed without some form of tolling or urban road pricing or a massive re-organisation of national transport funding priorities.

Alternative proposals

Based on this strong opposition to a major link through this area of eastern Auckland, the new AMETI (Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) project now intends to primarily improve the connections of this area towards the south-east (Manukau City), via less problematic routes. The new roads and public transport links are to serve intensified residential and mixed developments like the Mount Wellington Quarry area.


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