Auckland councillors oppose a $1 billion-plus freight corridor through South Auckland turning into a motorway and want to find "feasible options" to cope with heavy congestion through the industrial and residential area.
The Transport Agency and Auckland Transport have come up with four options for the "east-west link" between the Southern and Southwestern Motorways after Prime Minister John Key highlighted the project for early construction in a $10 billion transport package for the city.
One of the options, running through Mangere, Otahuhu, King's College and Sutton Park Primary School and bulldozing up to 500 affordable homes, has been ruled a "non-starter" by Mayor Len Brown.
Yesterday, the first meeting of the council's new infrastructure committee supported work continuing on the freight corridor, but councillors strongly opposed the idea of a new motorway when the council's priority is on improving public transport.
Councillor Chris Darby said the east-west link was not on the region's radar as recently as 2010, but had popped up in the Auckland Plan, and could set the course for the council and sever local communities.
He said the solutions had to be on low cost interventions, like first assessing benefits from new bus routes, walking and cycling.
"It is definitely time for a step change in Auckland. The days of new motorways and major arterials that sever communities, those days are numbered," he said.
His comments followed a presentation from a group of affected residents, Respect Our Community Campaign, which has collected 4246 signatures for a petition against a motorway through Mangere.
Auckland Transport key agency initiatives group manager Rick Walden said the job now was to engage with the community and hear what they have to say.
He said the project was still in the very early stages and ensuring the right outcomes for the whole of Auckland, including the local community.
"All of the options include significant public transport, walking and cycling improvements.
"There may yet be opportunities to stage how we do this," Mr Walden said.
Two other options include moving traffic away from the south eastern highway towards the eastern and southern industrial areas. A third option has a new highway running parallel to Manukau Harbour's northern shore.