Time-saving tolled highway for peninsula moves closer

By Amelia Wade

The $384 million tolled Penlink Highway - which will provide another route in and out of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula - is a step closer after an out of court settlement with land developers.

But Auckland Transport hasn't yet decided if it will fund the 7km road, which locals and the Chamber of Commerce say is "desperately needed" and should be a priority.

The route is now protected and Penlink can be built anytime within the next 20 years.

Promoters of the idea say the four-lane toll road, which includes facilities for cyclists and pedestrians and a 540m bridge over Weiti River, would mean a 12-18 minute quicker journey for drivers who use the road, and a trip five minutes faster for those who continue to use the current road.

Penlink is expected to attract 16,600 vehicles per day and will use a toll system similar to the Northern Gateway.

An electronic toll system has been designated for it and its expected users will pay up to $3 a trip.

After a new designation was confirmed in March, landowners Green McCahill Holdings and Weiti Developments near the route lodged appeals relating to access to their housing developments.

But last month they reached an agreement with Auckland Transport - the private firms will build a roundabout and part of the southbound on-ramps to the 7km road next month even though the project hasn't even been funded.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said in a Herald opinion piece in June that Penlink's cost was "modest" compared with the billions of dollars of recent larger projects. Its benefit-cost ratio of 2.9 also gave it a rating higher than several of NZTA's Roads of National Significance.

With council dragging its feet on funding, Barnett said the pre-conditions are in place for a farsighted local private-sector investor to add Penlink to its portfolio.

"Clearly, the traditional approach of relying on council hasn't worked. If the project is to be speeded up, a new approach is required."

In its business case, the highway was touted as a "very strong candidate" for a public private partnership with a toll of up to $3 a trip.

Hibiscus and Bays local board chairwoman Julia Parfitt said Whangaparaoa residents have always been happy with paying a toll - just as long as it got built to ease pressure on the sole congested road on and off the peninsula.

It would also help unlock the potential of Silverdale as an economic hub for the north and help connections to intensive housing areas like Dairy Flat.

"Silverdale was meant to be an employment centre but the massive congestion either side is a huge chock to that development. [Penlink] is desperately needed now. We're ready. We're just waiting for Auckland Transport."

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said they did not have construction funding but were "regularly reviewing the priority" for Penlink.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 28 Sep 2016 05:47:19 Processing Time: 668ms