$192,000 to paint Auckland, Henderson intersection blue slammed as 'shambolic' waste of public funds

Author
Tom Dillane,
Publish Date
Sun, 8 Aug 2021, 9:43AM
A painted a blue art piece in the centre of the intersection of Great North Rd, Railside Ave and Ratanui St, Henderson. (Photo/Auckland Council)
A painted a blue art piece in the centre of the intersection of Great North Rd, Railside Ave and Ratanui St, Henderson. (Photo/Auckland Council)

$192,000 to paint Auckland, Henderson intersection blue slammed as 'shambolic' waste of public funds

Author
Tom Dillane,
Publish Date
Sun, 8 Aug 2021, 9:43AM

A $192,000 paint job to turn a West Auckland intersection blue as part of a "shambolic" pedestrian safety trial has outraged residents and local politicians.

Documents released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show the controversial Henderson Streets for People trial has cost taxpayers and Auckland ratepayers a total of $851,069.

Included in that price tag was $500,000 in construction costs separate of any materials and $192,666 in blue paint.

Wooden pot plant holders also cost $18,128, concrete pipe planters $51,557, bollards $17,000 and decking $31,610.

The Auckland Council trial began in May and rerouted traffic around Henderson's main shopping strip on Great North Rd, added bus-only lanes and shared safe paths for bikes and scooters and painted a blue art piece in the centre of the intersection of Great North Rd, Railside Ave and Ratanui St.

In June, hundreds of Henderson locals marched along Great North Rd in protest of the trial and an online petition opposing it has had more than 5000 signatures.

Henderson-Massey local board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson described the project as an "extremely wasteful" use of taxpayer funds - adding the local board had practically no consultation from both the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Council when the trial was proposed.

"It has been extremely disruptive. I've never seen the community so angry. The last time they were in the streets like that was when the Government proposed the amalgamation of the Super City and Waitakere city citizens hit the streets. It's been a disaster unfortunately and it's hurt a lot of people. A lot of businesses have felt it significantly,"

"As far as I'm concerned the whole exercise has been extremely wasteful, as far as our money is concerned. There is an awful lot more that could have been done to make Henderson more vibrant and more beautiful, and an acceptable place where people actually want to go and shop.

"Unfortunately, the government departments, not just council, will do what they want to do and they don't give a toss about anybody else."

The council's land management CCO, Panuku, which oversaw the trial justified the $192,666 paint cost as covering all the road markings to install bus lanes, shared paths and on-road artworks over about 10,500sq m over five streets

"The blue paint in question is a specialist road surface paint that provides a high friction safety-rated surfacing, rated to last up to two years," a Panuku spokesperson said.

"The $192,666 includes all line marking, all line marking removal, night-time contractors, artwork stencils, artwork detail layers, and all signage associated with the installation of the paint surfacing."

The Henderson Streets for People trial led by Eke Panuku Development Auckland.

The Henderson Streets for People trial led by Eke Panuku Development Auckland.

While the trail was designed by Panuku only 10 per cent of the $851,069 project cost was paid for by Auckland ratepayers - 90 per cent of the money supplied by New Zealand taxpayers via NZTA.

NZTA manager for urban mobility Kathryn King said while they provided $765,963 of the funds for the Henderson trial "councils determine the design and objectives of each pilot, and manage the costs of specific components of each pilot."

"Each council is responsible for how they spend the funding total they have applied for and Waka Kotahi would expect this money to be used in a way which achieves the desired outcomes within the most cost effective manner," King said.

"It's great that the feedback received during the Henderson trial has shown which parts of the pilot worked and which didn't and will now allow Panuku to quickly make adjustments using public input to ultimately create environments that are good for our health and take care of our environment."

On Friday, Panuku announced the Henderson Streets for People trial has "now been completed, with most elements scheduled for removal, and some minor elements to be retained or adapted".

In fact the only things that will remain of the trial unaltered are roadway artwork on Trading Place, Waitākere Lane and the shared path on Ratanui St.

Nearly all traffic flow changes trialled will be reinstated to their original configuration and bus lanes and shared paths across Henderson will all be removed.

Local Henderson resident of 20 years Sunil Kaushal said it was just a further insult of the trial that it was all being removed.

"It cost $850,000 for this project. How much is it going to cost to reinstate it? So you've got to now pay the contractors to come and do it again," Kaushal said.

"It's just a shambles. It's just like big brother going and building their way through. You know $193,000 for paint which costs what $130 per litre. That's blooming expensive paint."

Henderson resident of 24, years Sara Romans, established an online petition against the Streets for People trial which has received 5177 signatures of support. Another 1000-plus signatures were also gathered on a paper petition

Romans says she and the community "absolutely" found their treatment by NZTA and Pauku patronising.

"I started the petition because I was annoyed by the trail and saw that everybody else was annoyed by it," Romans said.

"That amount of money that was spent on the paint was ridiculous. I'm pretty upset about the money being spent, mainly because if it's an attempt to beautify Henderson there could have been so many other ways to achieve this. Shop owners are losing business and it was just tacky, the bits that were temporary, for an excessive spend.

"It just upset me and seeing all the bad replies on social media, I decided to get stuck in rather than sit on my laurels so to speak. So I said 'stuff it' and started the petition to go with the other that was going on like the protest marches, and really found that the voice of the locals was quite strong."