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AA wades into Lake Rd upgrade row

Flagstaff Team

The Automobile Association is surveying its members on the state of Lake Rd and says Auckland Transport’s proposed upgrade plans are “never going to cut the mustard”.

The AA’s principal adviser for infrastructure and motoring affairs, Barney Irvine, told the Flagstaff the survey was being done because the lobby group had been following the vexed issue for several years and, like many people, was concerned where matters had ended up.

It wants to know if members would be willing to pay a targeted rate to contribute to more extensive road works than planned. “Locals are being forced to choose between a second-rate option (which still won’t be delivered for a few years) and nothing at all, and that’s a hopeless situation,” Irvine said.

What Auckland Transport (AT) had proposed for $47 million earlier this year fell well short of what AA members had wanted and expected to see on Lake Rd, said Irvine. Four-laning as much as possible was preferred, he said.

The survey comes as AT’s board has Lake Rd back on its agenda, with any decisions coming too late for the Flagstaff deadline.

An AT spokesperson said the project was on hold at the moment due to lack of funding. “There is no work underway currently for the AA’s survey to input into.” Once restarted any new information would be considered, but it was “not possible to determine its relevance at this time.”

In its survey, the AA is canvassing public opinion on paying extra to get what Irvine described as “a better outcome”.

The survey’s results would be collated, shared with Auckland Transport (AT) and the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board and made public. “We will also look to provide some direct feedback to local AA Members.”

The around 6000 members living on the Devonport peninsula had been emailed for their feedback, Irvine said. “We’d anticipate around 700 complete responses at the end of it.”

The AA also surveyed its members in 2016 and 2017. It did not make a submission on the latest proposal, however, as AT’s consultation fell during the early stages of lockown.

“Before anyone had a chance to challenge it, Covid-19 squashed Auckland Transport’s budget – the funds aren’t there to look at better options,” Irvine said.

For this reason, a primary focus of the survey was the targeted rate, an approach that did not appear to have been considered, he said. “It’s not an appealing prospect, but it could prove to be the only way forward.”

While it was not common for the AA to survey its members on specific local roads, Lake Rd was a special case. “It’s well known to so many Aucklanders (not just locals), and the issues it faces reflect the challenges we’re grappling with across the whole city – how do we fit ever-increasing numbers of people and vehicles into limited road space?”

The AA’s preferred configuration for Lake Rd was to widen as much as possible to allow four lanes of traffic, plus separated cycle lanes. “We’d be open to the extra lanes being T2/T3, assuming the number of buses justifies it – the idea is to move as many people as possible down the road at busy times.”

Irvine said AT had indicated something along these lines could be delivered for around $100 million. “It would be a case of shifting kerbs rather than widening the whole road corridor (and extending it into people’s properties) – so not as costly or disruptive as larger-scale options,” he maintained.

AT’s spokesperson said the $100 million option was unlikely to meet strategic objectives, including value for money. AT was not able to set targeted rates, although council could.

This article originally appeared in the 29 January 2021 edition of the Flagstaff. Read online here.

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