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Published: 2005-05-19 00:00:00

Transporting quarry aggregate to Auckland by barge is one way of reducing road congestion on the accident blackspot State Highway 2, says the chairman of Environment Waikato’s Regional Land Transport Committee, Angus Macdonald.

The project, which involves aggregate from H.G. Leach’s quarry at Kopu on the Coromandel Peninsula being barged across the Firth of Thames to land at Concourse Wharf in Henderson, has just begun operation.

“We’re backing this barging project, because it will mean a potential reduction of 2,200 trucks per year on the road from Thames to Auckland – which is of benefit over the notorious accident blackspot section of SH2 near Maramarua,” says Angus Macdonald.

“Auckland has a growing demand for high-quality quarry material, which has to be sourced from outside the region. This barging option will allow 200,000 tonnes of material for roads and construction to be brought into Auckland over the next three years in a way that minimises the impact on road use and congestion.

“It’s about utilising all modes, and using sea transport to provide much needed resources for Auckland – without increasing road congestion. As the barges can hold much greater volumes, only about 100 barges a year are needed to transport the quarry material, which otherwise would require 2,200 truckloads.”

The barging project has come about as a result of a co-ordinated approach between the quarrying company H.G. Leach & Co (who first came up with the idea), Land Transport New Zealand (which is providing funding of up to $289,000 over three years to get the project up and running), and Environment Waikato (which is monitoring the project outcomes).

Land Transport New Zealand agreed to support the project because of its potential in minimising the impact on the nation’s roading network by finding suitable alternative means of transporting goods on a case-by-case basis.

“We are delighted to be able to provide funding to help get this innovative project going,” says Land Transport New Zealand Chair, Dr Jan Wright.

“Using the Firth of Thames to provide an alternative access into Auckland is a logical step in reducing congestion on Auckland’s busy roads.,” she says.

Dr Wright stressed that the investment is up to $289,000 over three years, and the project would need to be completely commercially viable after that date.

H.G. Leach’s Managing Director Eric Souchon says the company is confident that this target can be met.

“With the number of roading projects coming on stream in Auckland, there is going to be an increasing demand for the type of high-quality aggregate which we can supply,” he says.
“And because land in Auckland is now so valuable, a number of existing quarries (such as Winstone’s in Mt Wellington) are shutting down, which means the demand for construction and roading material will only continue to grow.”

Mr Souchon says the barging project creates a win-win situation, because Auckland’s needs for construction growth can be met, while minimising roading congestion, and yet boosting the local economy in Thames by providing on-going work for the quarry.