An ACT Party candidate has defended his proposal to build a six-lane motorway through the middle of the North Shore, tunnelling underneath a cemetery in the process.
Northcote by-election candidate Stephen Berry announced the $5 billion idea at a 'meet the candidates' meeting on Monday night. The proposed road would start with a new bridge across the harbour, linking Pt Chevalier to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, before continuing north through Birkenhead, eventually linking to the Albany Expressway. The plan includes three tunnels and three bridges to navigate the route, and ACT leader David Seymour says it's a plan "absolutely" supported by his party.
But it's been met with fierce backlash as many noted it appeared to barge straight through the Eskdale cemetery, as well as many green reserves. Mr Berry explained to Newshub it would actually "tunnel underneath" the cemetery.
"We've chosen the narrowest section there to have the most minimal effect possible."
As for the green areas, Mr Berry told Newshub that's a compromise any growing city needs to face.
"We're in a very dense urban area," Mr Berry says. "Like it or not, Auckland's congestion needs to be dealt with."
Mr Berry says it would be possible to "tunnel more" to preserve the green spaces, but at a significantly higher cost. He noted the proposal is in early stages, and would go through a consultation process - but claims in the current proposal, not a single house would be affected.
"That's the thing that I'm most proud of - not one single property would be bulldozed."
Claims it would barge straight through Auckland Zoo are also untrue, Mr Berry says, explaining it would actually hook up with the northwestern motorway.
Mr Seymour says the first thing Mr Berry will do if he's elected in the by-election on June 9 is "march in and table his Private Members Bill".
He says the motorway network, which was first proposed in a 1972 Ministry of Works plan, should have been completed a long time ago - adding "keeping Auckland roadless" is simply not an option.
"If you look at the plan the most important areas it tunnels under... Hobson Bay, critical areas on the North Shore.
"It's shameful that we have neglected infrastructure development in Auckland for so long."
But response has been sceptical - and not always positive. Stuff journalist Steve Kilgallon slammed the idea as "the stupidest of stupid ideas".
"It's a new six-lane motorway... thrusting its way across the Harbour to bulldoze its way through a big chunk of the very electorate Berry hopes to represent," Mr Kilgallon wrote.
One resident took to Facebook declaring the map a "terrible idea".
"So you're proposing destroying eight of our beautiful parks and reserves to create a giant slow-moving concrete carpark that will mainly be used by people from outside of the area?"
"You won't get many votes with a plan like that which destroys more reserves and green space," another said.
But Mr Berry says it would, in fact, significantly easy congestion for Northcote.
"If you have a look at the traffic on Onewa Rd, only 18 percent are going to the CBD as a destination. By giving an alternative for people to get to West and South Auckland it will ease up congestion."
Mr Berry says the average Onewa Rd driver spends 2.5 hours a week in traffic.
Mr Berry says if National or Labour are picked, all Northcote will get is "a backbench MP who toes the party line".
"But I have a free vote on every issue with people of Northcote on my conscience."
Mr Berry was named ACT Party's by-election Northcote candidate in May, with Party leader David Seymour promising he would not offer "more of the same, tired ideas".
"Stephen will bring positive, practical solutions to bear in fixing the traffic chaos on Onewa Road because he can do and say things the other candidates can't," Mr Seymour said in a statement.
On Wednesday Mr Seymour told Newshub voting for Mr Berry will be a "no brainer"
"If you're sitting there in Northcote you can't even tell the difference between the other two candidates."