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Green light for rail, red light for locals3 min read

Apr 20, 2023 2 min

Green light for rail, red light for locals3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In March, Auckland Light Rail (ALR) launched its new consultation about the proposed routes through Onehunga, Māngere and Dominion Junction near Eden Terrace and Kingsland.

The chance to submit feedback ends on 10th April, and with many still wrapping their heads around the detail, people are feeling frustrated that they have had little time to have their say about the $14.6b project.

Although the ALR project was first announced in 2017, funding and design issues delayed the project. However, in 2022 the green light was finally given.

The preferred option of tunnelled light rail will run all the way from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill, with surface tracking along the route of State Highway 20, via Onehunga and Māngere townships, before continuing to the airport.

In 2022, ALR chief executive, Tommy Parker, said the route through Onehunga was “a challenge” but he also said that it’s possible to have a positive outcome with good design.

“There are some very good designs all around the world, where these things are integrated into the streetscape and you can either segregate them or integrate them.”

In 2023, we now have the detailed route options for Onehunga. The first is a shared light rail and heavy rail route near SH20 and Onehunga Bay lagoon, and the second is the use of KiwiRail land running through the suburb, which was set aside 80 years ago for future rail use.

Onehunga Business Association manager, Amanda Wellgreen, says the combination of light and heavy rail has taken both the business and residential communities by surprise. “The impact is massive, with an estimated 25-metre expansion to be located in South West Onehunga,” she says.

“A change of this nature means that the consultation period feels very rushed. I understand that the inclusion of heavy rail was given to the Light Rail team quite late in the process and they too are working through impacts, so we need more time and detail. I have asked for more information from the project team and arranged a meeting with the Minister of Transport to discuss business concerns with him.” Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board deputy chair, Debbie Burrows, says she is not impressed about the limited window ALR has set to engage with the community on such a massive project.

“Our community has been given four weeks to consider the repercussions of either a four-track trenched corridor winding through the suburban streets of Onehunga, or a five to six metre-high viaduct running along SH20, encroaching on Onehunga Bay lagoon and reserve.”

Debbie says the environment will also be severely impacted by the route, as the railway line will include freight carriages which will result in noise, dust and other pollutants filling the air.

“The proposed corridor will go through two schools and about 15 streets. Houses may need to be demolished too,” she says.

The community engagement will continue until Monday, 10th April, which is a short notice period after the delivery of our magazine. People have until then to complete the online survey surveymonkey.com/r/SNJPYWX

Construction is at least three years away and Onehunga Community News will keep all its readers informed of the light at the end of the tunnel.