The community is desperate for the Penlink Project to get underway on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
An acid test of new mayor Phil Goff's leadership will be to ensure the 'ready-to-go' Penlink Project gets a construction start in his three-year term.
The project is all about congestion relief for the Silverdale-Whangaparaoa area by building a new 7km road direct from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to the Northern Motorway, and bypass Silverdale, a rapidly expanding business centre which has its own growing congestion issues. Private sector commuters, freight and bus services stand to benefit hugely.
Penlink is ready to go. It is consented. Appeals have been dealt with. The land has been purchased.
There is a strong business case: Benefit cost ratio of 2.9 for four lane version -- 5.7 for two lane version. The community desperately wants it -- they are sick of 5km of morning peak period congestion everyday and a number of businesses on the peninsula are struggling.
So why isn't the $380 million construction underway?
The answer that keeps coming back is that there are more deserving projects in south and west Auckland for the limited resources available.
But that excuse doesn't stack up.
They aren't ready to go. Besides Penlink's business case provides for a toll -- which the community has agreed to -- giving a revenue stream that has potential to reduce the capital cost and cover operating costs long-term.
Penlink is in the central government-Auckland Council aligned project (Atap) programme for the second decade -- starting 2028. But this decision was taken before the 'live zoning' of nearby Wainui which adds another 20,000 to the population growth of next the 10 years (already the size of a Hamilton).
Without Penlink this development and other potential urban developments in this area of Auckland will be hugely compromised.
In the total scheme of Auckland's transport investment needs, Penlink is small-scale. A public-private partnership is an option and the private sector is interested, but it is a growing political weeping sore.
Common sense says let's just do it. Both politically and doing something for North Shore it is win-win.
Surely, the private sector, central government and Auckland Council working together can find a way to build Penlink with minimal impact on Council's debt levels. I say it could/should be first cab off the rank for the new council -- a test case for Auckand Council showing it has a 'can do' culture.