INDEPENDENT NEWS

Aucklanders being blackmailed over Ring Route

Published: Thu 26 Oct 2006 12:58 AM
26 October, 2006
Aucklanders being blackmailed over Western Ring Route
Transit New Zealand was last night accused of blackmailing Auckland, with its proposal to make the Western Ring Route a tolled road.
Dr Hans Grueber, of the organisation Highway Robbery Incorporated, told the Waitakere City Council at its October meeting (Wednesday October 25) that the toll road would have effects over a longer period than the 35 years of tolls being collected.
"It will change the social, economic and political fabric of New Zealand," Dr Grueber said.
The proposed Western Ring Route will bring traffic from north of Auckland along a new motorway between Albany and Westgate and along the North Western motorway before linking to the new State Highway 20 via Auckland city's western suburbs, to Mangere, Manukau City and ultimately reconnecting with State Highway One, south of Auckland.
Transit says it does not have $800 million it needs to complete the road in the foreseeable future and to ensure it is completed quickly, it proposes to introduce tolls.
Aucklanders will pay about $1.6 billion in tolls over 35 years to cover the $800 million shortfall.
"It's a licence to print money over the next 35 years," Dr Grueber said.
Transit was deliberately misleading the people of Auckland by giving them false choice, he said.
Transit could not foresee whether this or a future Government would choose to find the extra $800 million, he said, reminding councillors that a similar situation had been faced in Tauranga.
"Transit gave the people of Tauranga the same Clayton's choice between a toll bridge and no bridge. How wrong they were. The government found the few hundred million dollars when it mattered. Why would Transit be any more accurate about the Western Ring Route?" he asked.
Waitakere Councillors replied saying that the city was unhappy with the toll proposal put forward by Transit.
"How can we get to the Government and say this is not acceptable?" Councillor Carl Harding asked, while Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of the council's City Development Committee said that Dr Grueber was talking to the converted.
"We share your concerns. As we see it, with this toll proposal we are in danger of becoming the sewer for Auckland's traffic," she said.
ENDS

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