The Government and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency are being accused of repeating the blunder of the Auckland Harbour Bridge by fixing one of the city's worst bottlenecks with a two-lane highway.
The agency said it is delivering the project as announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and former Transport Minister Phil Twyford in January this year.
They announced Penlink would be a two-lane state highway with future proofing for four lanes as part of a $3.5 billion transport package for Auckland.
Locals have welcomed recent progress on Penlink - a $411 million highway connecting the burgeoning population on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula to the Northern Motorway - but baffled at the decision to build two lanes.
"I cannot understand why the proposed Penlink is to be a two-lane road," Jim Radich, of Red Beach said in a letter in today's Herald.
"The Silverdale, Whangaparāoa area is among the fastest growth areas in this part of New Zealand. Surely common sense demands a four-lane road.
"Shades of the Auckland Harbour Bridge planning," said Radich.
The harbour bridge was originally built with four lanes, but within five years traffic numbers were three times the original forecast and four more lanes were added.
Heather Newkirk, who has rented out her townhouse at Gulf Harbour because of the daily "diabolical traffic", said it was typical short-term thinking by the Government to opt for two lanes.
"Spend the minimum then dig it up, disrupt and add more lanes at twice the price.
"Think back to the harbour bridge. It was redundant the moment it was opened and we had to go through the 'Nippon clip-on' disruption era," Newkirk said.
Kerry Inskeep, who lives at Army Bay, said Whangaparāoa Rd is the only road in and out of the peninsula, was choking at peak times and what was a 20-minute drive to get off the peninsula could easily be more than 30 minutes.
"It would be a false economy not to put in two lanes each way," he said.
Stanmore Bay resident Chris Tarpey also wants to see a four-lane road considered.
Local councillor John Watson, who lives at Army Bay, has said residents would prefer a four-lane road to allow for a bus lane connected to the Northern Motorway.
The NZ Transport Agency said it is delivering the project scope determined by the Government, which includes a separated walking and cycling shared path along the 7km state highway route.
In a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesperson, the agency said: "Waka Kotahi is currently undertaking an updated traffic modelling and in-depth technical assessment on primary design considerations including the bridge design for Penlink. The assessment findings will be available in mid-2021 and will inform the final Penlink design."
Asked if this work could lead to a rethink on the number of lanes, NZTA senior media manager Andy Knackstedt said: "We've nothing further to add to the responses already provided today."
A spokesman for new Transport Minister Michael Wood said the scope of Penlink has always been two lanes, future-proofed for four going back to the previous National Government.
He said the most recent version of the Government and Auckland Council's Auckland Transport programme suggests with a toll in place, Penlink has enough capacity as a two-lane road to meet foreseeable future demand, but will be future proofed for four lanes.