A couple of weeks ago I looked at the cost of the the Western Ring Route which when it is all said and done will have cost us over $3b however I did miss out some important details. I forgot about the impact on the connections to State Highway 1 in both the north and the south. Readers may recall than when the connection at Manukau was opened in 2010 there was chaos on the Southern motorway as scores of vehicles joined from SH20 which resulted in considerable congestion and frustrated motorists. As a quick fix the NZTA was forced to install ramp signals on the connection to the South to control the flow but said that the long term solution was to widen the motorway further between Manukau and Papakura to relieve the pressure. They also realised that the same thing might happen on the Northern motorway where SH18 joins SH1 so said they want to widen that part too. But how much will these works cost?

Another of the papers the NZTA released to me was their State Highway strategy from 2010 which sheds some light on the issue. In the South they are only showing the costs of adding a third lane southbound from Hill Rd to Takanini which would cost $40-$80m but they all four stages would likely need to be completed before ramp signalling could be removed from the SH20-SH1 connection. I think we could easily add in an extra couple of hundred million for the other works based on the costs we have seen elsewhere.

In the North it is going to cost even more, the paper says that the desire is to the route fully upgraded to expressway standard which means they would need to grade separate the likes of Paul Matthews Rd as well as installing ramps to allow motorway to motorway connections. Widening would also need to take place at least to Greville Rd which would also need an expensive upgrade.

All up from the listed projects we have additional costs in the range of $565m-$910m not including the projects out south that haven’t been costed. All of this is on top of the other $3 billion we would have already spent on the WRR  which means that when all is said and done this one motorway would have cost more than $4b alone.

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  1. As Dr Lange once said to his son David – “Disgusting!”. $4 billion for the WRR and those idiotic naysayers are trying to kill the CRL saying its $2 billion (or less) cant be justified?? Disgusting. The CRL will likely end up being under $2 billion all up, for the ‘full kit and kaboodle’. Much cheaper and far, far better value for money.

  2. There an argument that this sum is all being spent in order to keep the Central Motorway Junction from snarling up for a few more years, it may relieve it, it may not. It is possible that it will simply deliver more traffic more suddenly there especially down the North Western. We keep building, rebuilding, and widening one system without properly relieving it with any complimentary systems. Good money after bad is probably the best way to describe this. Then these vast and dissappearing sums are used to argue that there is no money for anything else…. And so on. The Wellington onramp saga shows just how fragile the CMJ is…. does NZTA have any idea whether this huge investment will help?

  3. So the CRL cost (which also includes additional trains to run on it AND double-tracking and grade-separating the Onehunga line) costs less than half that of the WRR? Bargain 🙂

    I’m sure if you add to the CRL cost everything going back to the construction of Britomart, including the West Line double tracking, New Lynn trench, and all the temporary trains we have at the moment, it’d still come in as less. Of course, that’s putting rail at a disadvantage when comparing, as I doubt purchasing vehicles is included in motorway budget figures.

  4. This shows how politically savvy NZTA are. It’s much easier to get small projects through the political system than large ones. By selling the project in bite-sized chunks the cost of the bigger vision escapes scrutiny. It would be entirely predictable that joining 2 southbound lanes on the S1 with 2 southbound lanes on the S20 would cause congestion when they merge into 2 lanes on the S1 at Hill Road. Once the congestion becomes apparent it’s a great case for more public money and another new (small) project with a high BCR to add extra lanes.

    By contrast the CRL proponents are politically naive. Rather than divide the project into little chunks, the whole vision is put up, which includes extra trains and duplication of the Onehunga line. This was OK with a Labour government that could be coaxed into providing half the funds, so the extra trains and Onehunga duplication come at half price to ratepayers. But under the current circumstances it is more politically savvy to ONLY publicise a Stage 1 CRL at $1.9 b. Extra trains and Onehunga duplication should be put up as separate projects. If extra trains are not funded, then post-CRL overcrowding would lead to political embarrassment that ensures it gets funded, as NZTA knows full well with its roads.

  5. Malcolm M – agreed. Keep the CRL cost to the $1.9 billion mark and leave out the extra trains and the Onehunga line duplication til when there becomes the pressing need to get those components in place.

  6. Yes let’s build a rail network a piece at a time. I was fascinated when I was in Salvador in Brasil to see little peices of subway (obviously above ground pieces) scattered around the city.

    An example may be Takapuna. The Council plan is calling for substantial development of this suburb, but important roading is clogged. I have seen figures that proportionally the worst increase at peak times for travel times to the city for anywhere in Auckland is for Takapuna. Travel times triple.

    I seldom travel by car to the city, but on the last ocassion I sat for 16 minutes to get onto Esmonde Road. This was from Fred Thomas Drive, the route to Akoranga Station and at peak times traffic currently is impeding access to this station.

    Nick R has speculated on a branch line that goes up into Takapuna and maybe at some stage into Milford. Is a more viable proposition to go into Takapuna and then towards Belmont? There would seem to be the advantage of accessing cheaper land for high rise housing adjoining the rail route. Such development would have wonderful views in many directions and be reasonably proximate to beaches.

  7. How come NZTA thinks it will be able to find this extra $910m and has no problem finding $930m for Transmission Gully but can only find half the $930m needed to repair the damage from the most devasting natural disaster to hit any roading agency the last 40 years (with the possible exception of the Pakistan floods a few years ago)?

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