Step towards greener road works

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Auckland Council is finally taking steps to sort out problems with Auckland Transport’s work on Waiheke.
After a presentation from Waiheke Local Board chairperson Paul Walden the council’s environment committee has advised the governing body of the need for Auckland Transport to adopt more environmentally friendly road design in accordance with other council policies.
The council’s governing body has been asked to include an expectation of water sensitive road design in its contract with Auckland Transport.
Works on Gordons Road provide a recent example of the local board struggling to get Auckland Transport to adopt environmentally friendly road works practices that are upheld by council stormwater experts and within various council plans and strategies.
In February Mr Walden and Waitemata and gulf councillor Mike Lee called a stop to the works on Gordons Road because of concerns about the environmental impact of having concrete dish drains along the road through Whakanewha Regional Park.
Waiheke Island Wetland Initiative member Tony King-Turner says the concrete edgings look “totally out of keeping” with the natural regional park environment and both he and Mr Walden are worried about the environmental impact of the works.
“The Super City was never intended to only permit a one size fits all solution, which might work okay in Botany Downs or Sandringham,” says Mr Walden.
“It’s not appropriate for Waiheke at all. We have a distinct rural character and we are stewards for a sensitive environment.”
Rather than allowing stormwater to be filtered by land beside the road the concrete dish drains channel water into pipes and it eventually runs into the sea.
“Stormwater has been pumped straight to sea so shellfish beds, which were once abundant in all our bays, are largely no longer,” says Mr Walden.
Trees can also struggle to withstand droughts and wetlands can be starved of water when stormwater is diverted through roadside drains.
Despite the local protests Auckland Transport has forged ahead with laying concrete edgings on Gordons Road and is investigating a second stage of works that could include further concrete roadside drains.
The local board has taken the community’s concerns about inappropriate road works to the top of the council and its transport organisation.
Mr Walden and other board members have met with the chief executives of Auckland Transport, the council, and the board of directors of Auckland Transport.
“The local board has been fighting for the entire duration of this term for Auckland Transport to employ the best practice which the council requires of any private developer.
“But we are yet to see substantive change on the ground,” says Mr Walden.
Several local boards have complained about Auckland Transport trampling over environmental concerns raised by their communities.
“Other local boards have had similar concerns and council officers in the environmental services team are equally frustrated by the outcomes delivered in the road corridor on Waiheke,” says Mr Walden.
Ironically, the council requires private developers to comply with water sensitive road design when they create roads in subdivisions but Auckland Transport is exempt from the rules of the council that controls it, he says. • Rose Davis

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