The Chamber’s Penlink campaign is being peppered with rumours that transport planners have proposed down-grading the confirmed 4-lane 7km Penlink Project into a 2-lane road and bridge as a way to improve its business case.
A 4-lane Penlink project has a benefit-cost ratio of 2.9 – meaning that for every dollar spent the return is nearly $3. However, this rate of return is lower than other major investments on Council’s priority list, notably Mill Rd extension in south Auckland and the North Western Busway. Both these projects seem likely to be taken over by NZTA to get round Auckland Council’s cash strapped barrier, but not Penlink.
The Chamber has been told that NZTA is reluctant to make Penlink a State highway. This is partly because it’s on a Peninsula with a dead end and no options for adding traffic benefits to its State Highway network, and partly from concern that other councils will seek to use Penlink as precedence to get NZTA to take over other similar scale roading projects.
However, a reworked Penlink business case apparently confirms that a 2-lane Penlink highway and bridge brings the benefit cost ratio up to around 5 – i.e. for every dollar spent around $5 of benefit would be generated, and the cost significantly reduced. The re-rank will lift its priority to near if not to the top of the list for funding.
While this should help Penlink get an early start, it shows a lack of long-term thinking, I suggest. As has happened many times in Auckland, we are likely to be coming back in 10 years time to add the two extra lanes and a clip-on bridge.
What’s your view? Let me know. Do you support a compromised Penlink to get it done immediately, or should our campaign hold out for doing it once, and doing it properly?
But there is some good news. We are reliably informed that when the next stage of the Auckland Council – Government aligned transport project (ATAP) schedule is unveiled Penlink will have been brought forward for construction within the next 10 years – a re-ranking from the 2028 start proposed in the programme announced last September.