A draft new business case for Penlink has been prepared which considers options for bringing the building of the road from Whangaparaoa Peninsula to Redvale forward from its current 2024/25 start.
Auckland Transport (AT) commissioned the update, at a cost of around $240,875 (HM December 1, 2018).
The last business case was in 2013, based on a four-lane road delivered as a Public Private Partnership whereas the new version is focused on the two-lane option with tolls used for ‘demand management’ that is currently favoured by AT.
The project, estimated to now have a capital cost of $331m, has a high cost/benefit ratio, but the draft report suggests that a Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) model may be a better option than a Public Private Partnership.
A key reason for commissioning the report was to identify possible measures to bring the project forward. The report concludes there is potential to do this, with a start of 2021 at the earliest, and offers some alternatives. A key concern is minimising the impact on Auckland Council’s balance sheet. The options suggested include assigning $66m from the regional fuel tax to the NZ Transport Agency; and a “bespoke” BOOT model, unique in NZ.
The draft notes that “further delays to the construction of Penlink increase pressure on AT to deliver transport improvements along Whangaparaoa Rd and Hibiscus Coast Highway, thereby diverting funds into short to medium-term improvements … which will be costly and have little future value, once Penlink is constructed.”
It also states that the key reason Penlink is not already built is that funding has gone to other projects. “Because Penlink is so large, it takes out a large part of the annual capital budget. As it restricts Council’s ability to undertake other projects, it has been difficult to achieve Penlink, even though it has a high priority. It was a cashflow issue, not a prioritisation issue,” the draft report says.
The draft is still being considered by AT with more information expected in the coming months.