A plan to tear down about 40 Auckland homes to make room for an upcoming section of the $1.4 billion Eastern Busway is one step closer to reality.
In an Auckland Transport board decision made public on Tuesday, the organisation said it would be going ahead with its preferred option. That meant diverting part of the dedicated rapid transit and cycle lane connecting Pakuranga and Botany away from Ti Rakau Drive and into the Burswood suburb about 300 metres north.
The decision on the final route of the project was delayed twice to Thursday last week after previous public consultation gathered significant criticism from the Burswood community and some Howick Local Board members.
On Wednesday, AT interim chief executive Mark Lambert said the decision on the route around Burswood was made after "further careful consideration".
"We acknowledge that the approved design will impact the homes of some Burswood residents, and we have given extra consideration to their feedback over several months," he said in a statement.
"The decision on the preferred option was made only after a large number of alternative alignment possibilities were considered both on and around Ti Rakau Drive."
The transport organisation would now start a process to acquire the land the homes are on. Those affected would be able to make further submissions as part of that.
The chosen route is a deviation from earlier plans that saw the $867 million Pakuranga to Botany stage centred around a dedicated busway running the length of a widened Ti Rakau Drive.
According to proposed plans presented to affected residents in November last year, about 40 homes would need to be acquired and demolished. An additional 30 properties would need to be partially acquired with developers taking their driveways or other small areas of land, for example.
Multiple Burswood residents told 1News in November that the busway's new position would be devastating for their community and that the proposal came seemingly from nowhere.
AT’s Duncan Humphrey, who is part of the team leading the busway's construction, said at the time that the route that included Burswood is expected to increase the reliability of travel times on the busway, be cheaper to build, reduce construction time by 12 to 18 months, and increase residents’ access to the busway.
He said the change in AT’s preferred design to include Burswood was largely driven by the benefits it would bring, and that "the overriding factor wasn't [the] cost".
But 1News understands that the transport organisation concluded it would be too expensive to build the original design of the busway.
More than 500 people signed a petition started by Burswood residents last year to move the busway back to Ti Rakau Drive.