In announcing that the government was finally going to come to the party and support the CRL, John Key has also made it clear that the project is going to be just one part of an overall package of transport projects in the city. We will have to wait till tomorrow to find out exactly what they are but I thought I would look at some of the most likely candidates.
The best outcome from my perspective would be a package of PT projects perhaps including rail to the airport, rail to the shore and some busways. Perhaps something like below. It might be unlikely but one can dream can’t they?
Perhaps the most likely announcement is something to do with the East-West Link. John Key is announcing the transport package at the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and this project has been one of their key ones. The project would see new roads built and existing ones upgraded to create new links between either Onehunga or Mangere and Highbrook. The option that has been talked about the most in the past has tended to be option 3 which is a brand new road (new roads in black, upgraded roads in red)
Personally I think that there is definitely a need to improve transport in this area but most of what is suggested seems like a solution in search of a problem.
There are two potential projects that would fall into this category.
The Eastern Highway – Gerry Brownlee breathed new life into this project back at the end of April with the way he answered a question from John Campbell. Back then I made this observation:
At first I thought it was really odd the way that Brownlee talked about AMETI and whether that would happen as it is well under way and he has even visited the construction site. Re-watching the video, it then becomes clear that he is talking about a reviving of the eastern motorway. Did Brownlee just let slip that the government is now considering building it? It would certainly fit in with some whispers I have heard.
Bringing back the Eastern Highway would be a massive change in transport policy as it doesn’t exist on any of our current planning documents, although there is still a designation for it.
Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (AWHC) – After the East-West Link this is probably the next most likely transport project to get a nod from the government. It would definitely be popular with many people on the North Shore but the reality is it is a really really stupid project. For starters it adds a huge amount of capacity across the harbour making it easier to drive and potentially putting a lot more cars onto our city streets, right at a time when we are trying to reduce the number in the city.
The most recent business case found that a road tunnel under the harbour would cost around $5 billion and have a benefit to cost ratio of 0.2, in other words for every $1 invested we would only get 20c back. What’s more that was on the back of some very dodgy traffic growth figures. The business case assumed growth would continue at the same rate it historically has but didn’t take into account the fact that traffic volumes had fallen substantially in recent years. Even if growth returned to the level it was previously, which is unlikely given the trends we are seeing elsewhere, the need for a new crossing has been pushed back almost indefinitely.
Are there any other projects that you think will be tacked on to the CRL?