Auckland Transport has received the green light to bulldoze 1500sq m of native bush and 59 homes to make way for a $300 million stretch of highway.
Residents and environmental activists say they have been left disgusted, disappointed and frustrated and feel their arguments fell on deaf ears.
Independent commissioners yesterday gave Auckland Transport (AT) the go-ahead for an 8.1km stretch of the 32km eastern bypass of the Southern Motorway to Drury after more than 280 submissions and a week of hearings last year.
The commissioners recommended the Redoubt-Mill Rd corridor upgrade was necessary to relieve existing and forecast congestion, accommodate planned growth, provide for alternative modes of transport, improve traffic safety and improve network efficiency.
The four lane highway will affect about 260 properties - 59 of which will be demolished - which are in the path of the first stage of what will ultimately be a 32km eastern bypass of the Southern Motorway to Drury.
The Herald reported last year that $66 million of the $300 million budget was for property purchases.
Auckland Transport says the upgrade is needed because 22,000 new homes would add pressure on the existing transport infrastructure, doubling traffic volumes during the next 10 to 15 years and because the existing road is unsafe, with four deaths and 283 crashes over four years.
But Eve Osborne, whose house would be demolished, is bitterly disappointed with the recommendation.
She feels the commissioners didn't properly weigh up the hundreds of submissions they received and said the whole process was disappointing and frustrating.
The project includes a 17m-high bridge across the narrowest part of the block at 146 Mill Rd known as Cheesman's Bush, after its owner Graham Cheesman.
AT says the bridge will require clearing 1500sq m of bush. Some of the trees are 200 years old and include large kahikatea and puriri.
Veteran Forest and Bird member Graham Falla said it would be a big loss for biodiversity and natural heritage. "I'm deeply disappointed and disgusted at the lack of regard for these ancient treasures."
AT roading group manager Andrew Scoggins said the recommendation and related conditions would now be considered. When a decision is made, all affected landowners and submitters will be informed. Submitters will have 15 working days to appeal against the decision to the Environment Court.