3 Apr 2009

Auckland business leaders applaud tunnel plan

3:09 pm on 3 April 2009

A plan for a tunnel to help ease congestion around Auckland's so-called spaghetti junction will be a big boost to industry, say the city's business leaders.

The Government has announced that work on the $430 million Victoria Park project will begin in January, almost a year earlier than planned.

The two-lane Victoria Park section of State Highway 1 creates a frustrating bottleneck for the estimated 100,000 vehicles using the road each day.

The tunnel will add three northbound lanes, allowing the existing four lanes to be dedicated to southbound traffic.

The Auckland Business Forum says the project will be a boost to the construction industry and free up roads for freight.

Plea to KiwiRail

Auckland Regional Council wants KiwiRail to take over its suburban rail network from July rather than waiting for the arrival of new electric trains in several years.

The council also wants the state-owned rail company to take over the overhaul of some of its stations, a project it says it no longer has the money to complete.

KiwiRail will pay for new electric trains, but the regional council says the rail company should also take over new diesel trains and the flagship Newmarket, New Lynn and Manukau station projects.

The proposal is part of the regional council's new 10-year budget, which was hastily redrawn after it was found to have a $200 million shortfall.