Auckland's business community is criticising a decision which will delay completion of a crucial motorway project in the region. The area's Regional Land Transport Committee has dropped construction of the Avondale section of State Highway 20 from its 10 year plan.
It has instead adopted a package that pumps money into upgrading the public transport system. But the move has frustrated and angered members of Auckland's business community. They say the highway, which provides a desperately needed alternative route to the heavily congested southern motorway, will now not be built until 2020.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association says completing State Highway 20 should be a top priority and the authorites are just making excuses for not proceeding with the crucial link. Business leaders say with road congestion estimated to cost the region a billion dollars a year, completing the highway could be worth $800 million in benefits.
The Chief Executive of the Northern Employers' and Manufacturers' Association, Alasdair Thompson says the delay means the 5 year motorway project won't even be started for over a decade. He says it needs to be completed with urgency, but instead is being hindered by local and roading authorities with the same old attitudes.
The managing director of trucking company Carr-Haslam, Chris Carr, says the decision fails to recognise the commercial needs of the region, and the road is needed.
But committee's chair, Auckland Regional Councillor Joel Cayford, says the region's public transport system needs attention if patronage is to grow. Cayford says $6 billion has still been allocated to roading projects and that there is no way the section could be built within the ten year time.