The sheer stupidity of the Puhoi to Wellsford project might be starting to hit home for some of the residents of Warkworth and surrounding areas as the exact route of the motorway starts to be understood.

Warkworth residents hoping for a link from the Woodcocks Rd industrial area to the new motorway proposed from Puhoi appear to have had their hopes dashed.

The latest version of the route finalised by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) shows the new motorway would bypass Warkworth completely, forcing residents to drive almost as far north as Kaipara Flats Rd to access the new route.

Concerns have been raised that many residents in Warkworth, Sandspit and Snells Beach are unlikely to travel north in order to head south, and will therefore not benefit from the new motorway.

NZTA staff told a meeting of the Warkworth Area Liaison Group this month that Mahurangi College had opposed any access along Woodcocks Rd. Staff also stressed that the main purpose of the motorway was to improve access to Northland.

However, they have confirmed the motorway would almost certainly join up with a new link road to Matakana, via a large roundabout, which is highly likely to push development to the north of Warkworth, and towards the coast.
It is understood Auckland Council planners are already redrawing the rural urban boundary proposed for Warkworth, to reflect the same changes.

While Puhoi residents have won their battle to get access to the motorway, the latest route shows there will only be a northbound off-ramp, and a southbound on-ramp, meaning anyone heading north would not be able to hop off, and then back on, the motorway.

The NZTA is planning to lodge an application to secure the designation within the next month as the first step in the process towards getting the road built. Once that has been completed it is expected that construction could start sometime between late next year and 2019. Here is a map of the confirmed designation they are seeking

Confirmed route

One of the biggest issues I have with this project is that it does absolutely nothing to improve the existing road which as a result of the motorway completely bypassing Warkworth will still be used by a lot of Warkworth residents as well as people wanting to avoid paying the tolls that are likely to be on the road. It means that the safety issues on that stretch of road won’t get addressed as why would they spend any serious money on a road that is about to be bypassed. Further it will end up becoming Auckland Transports problem to deal with as the NZTA will almost certainly hand the road over to AT as they would no longer need it – just as they have done with the old state highway that acts as the free route for those wanting to avoid the toll road.

The new route will likely need to be tolled too. For starters it hooks directly into the existing toll road with no north facing ramps at Puhoi so it means that unless the NZTA plan to remove the existing toll and wipe the $100m+ debt from the books, there will be no way for someone using the Warkworth to Puhoi section to avoid paying to use this new road. However the Governments roading binge is also putting a lot of pressure on our transport funds which is one of the reasons for the 3c per litre increase in petrol that occurred at the start of the month and which will happen again in at least the next two years. I think it is quite likely that the toll will be increased to help cover some of the costs of the new section – although not by a level which would be in proportion to the length or cost of the project.

The existing toll road between Orewa and Puhoi is about 7km long and saves drivers about 10 minutes as well as 5km of windy and suburban roads yet even so the NZTA have said in the past that only 70-80% of  all vehicles travelling between the two points use the toll road. By comparison the route proposed above only saves about 1km over the existing road and even with having to go through Warkworth, people generally average about 80km/h over the distance. Assuming you would travel at 100km/h for the entirety of the slightly shorter new road the time saving would only be approximately 3-4 minutes. That isn’t bad but when compared to the expected cost of $760 million as well as how many people are actually using the road it simply doesn’t seem feasible. The South facing ramps at Puhoi also mean that it will be easy for travellers to avoid any toll imposed on the new section as they could still drive the existing road to Puhoi then get on the motorway and travel the existing toll road (and depending on where they are coming from this could be just as fast)

It’s also worth pointing out again just how stupid the travel time savings promoted by the government are with comments made by Gerry Brownlee suggesting vehicles would need to be travelling at over 250km/h to be achieved.

One key issue is that the existing road is only really busy at holiday times when Aucklanders are flocking to the beaches to the east of Warkworth or further north which is why the term “Holiday Highway” was coined. Of course the NZTA, the government and Northland keep telling us, this project is more about connecting Northland to Auckland. So let’s look at those two claims a bit closer. Handily the NZTA release monthly data on traffic volumes at a number of sites around the country. The sites measured aren’t as exhaustive as their annual numbers but there are two very useful ones. One is the traffic volumes on ALPURT – the name for the toll road – and is useful for indicating how many people might use the new motorway while the second is from a site just north of Wellsford which is helpful for showing just how much traffic is moving between Auckland and Northland. The graph below shows the monthly average daily traffic volumes recorded at these two sites along with the 12 month rolling average.

P2W Monthly Traffic Volumes

As you can see both sites have extremely strong peaks in January as well as smaller peaks in October and April which just so happen to coincide with public holidays. In saying that ALPURT has seen its annual average start to rise with it increasing by about 900 vehicles per day over the past few years but what is unclear is if that is a result of more vehicles doing the overall journey or more people shifting off the old windy road and onto the new shorter and much faster toll road. North of Wellsford however traffic volumes are falling, not at an alarming rate but they have fallen by about 300 vehicles per day over the last few years. In all there are about 8600 vehicles per day (over the course of the year) being counted north of Wellsford. That is certainly not a number to justify spending billions of dollars on. One thing to note is that other state highway sites do see seasonal variation but nowhere near to the extent that these two do (at least of those I have looked at).

Now remembering that the ALPURT numbers don’t include the traffic that bypasses the toll road what it suggests to me is two things. The first is that there simply isn’t that much interregional traffic movement occurring. Even during holiday periods the average amount of daily traffic is less than what many single lane roads within Auckland carry. Even many of our rail network level crossings – which will suffer increasing delays as we put more train services on – carry more daily traffic than what occurs even during the busiest month of the year on this section of the state highway network. With the vast majority of the traffic originating from Warkworth or the surrounding areas, it suggests that if you are going to spend money on the area – and the road does need some improving – then doing so in a way that allows the majority of people using the road would be a smarter move.

In the past we have suggested what is dubbed Operation Lifesaver. Like many of the roading projects in the Integrated Transport Plan we believe that the vast majority of then benefits can be achieved by cheaper solutions. The idea for this road is fairly simple, instead of building a fully offline motorway fix the key issues that exist with the road at present. That means bypassing Warkworth (that alone would deliver a lot of benefits), easing corners and installing additional passing lanes. It also means that the projects could start sooner as most of them would take place within the existing road corridor plus the benefits can be felt immediately compared to there being no benefits from the motorway until the entire road has been completed. We have suggested in the past that a the NZTA should consider an upgrade and link from Perry Rd to the new motorway as a way of allowing the project to be staged by building the bypass of Warkworth first then seeing if there is still the need to do the full project.

One other interesting comment from the article on the first link,

Meanwhile, investigation of the Warkworth to Wellsford leg has been postponed indefinitely, due to tests that have shown land in the area is so unstable, it would be uneconomic to build a motorway on top of it. It is the poorest possible soil seen in New Zealand.

I’m guessing the only reason the government hasn’t announced officially that this section has been cut back as it – combined with the proposed road from the end of the project across to Matakana Rd – would play even more into to suggestions that the road is primarily about getting people to their holiday homes in Omaha. It would definitely remove one of the arguments that the road is about connecting Northland. It is also worth noting that as the majority of traffic heading north of Albany is going to Warkworth or the surrounding areas, not further north, then without that link to Matakana Rd that traffic is still going to have to be forced back to Warkworth and through the busy Hill St intersection.

One of the recent OIA requests I had back also suggests that the NZTA are going to consider building this motorway as a PPP, like they are doing with Transmission Gully. I wouldn’t mind quite so much if the private sector was actually taking a risk on building these roads but the financial institutions have learned from the mistakes in Australia and so the NZTA get left holding almost all of the risk (including the risk that predicted traffic volumes won’t materialise). While we don’t pay the massive upfront cost of building the road, we will end up paying a huge amount more over a 25 year period. The payment structure is illustrated quite will in this graph which is for Transmission Gully. Note: the OIA request I mentioned has quite a bit of detail about how the contracts will be structured. I will try and get a more detailed post up about it in the next few days.

PPP Payment profile

And just to make things even worse it appears that Auckland Transport are trying to shoehorn Penlink into the same contract.

Auckland Transport is working with the NZTA on a business case to progress Penlink as a possible joint public private partnership – to be constructed/tendered along with their Puhoi to Warkworth project.

“This is still under development and is expected to be completed in December,” Auckland Transport communications general manager Wally Thomas says.

Share this

127 comments

  1. I never understood this project. However, speak to people up North and many will say that the motorway is needed, because of the time savings on the trip to Auckland it would offer. It looks like even that argument won’t work for the residents of Warkworth any more…

    1. Warkworth is –
      about 20 minutes to the Bottom of Northland. North of Wellsford
      -about 75 minutes to the major economic centre of Northland (Whangarei)
      – about 230 minutes to the top of Northland (Cape Reinga)

  2. Very good work Matt. Clearly ‘Holiday Highway’ is nothing more than a plain factual description of this project. There must be plenty of people within NZTA pushing this through clenched teeth, surely they can see that the numbers are completely absurd and don’t support this piece of ministerial whim.

    Auckland Council and Auckland Transport should not be supporting this project as it will not only mean that the current road will still be killing their citizens but that fixing it will become the whole region’s ratepayers burden. Another example of how bad the structure between local and central government is. Local government can’t reject or question an NZTA project ( especially one personally chosen by Joyce) without the full wrath of state being threatened as happened to Wellington City Council over their terrible urban flyover project.

    1. I’ve been very close to this project and I can tell you that NZTA are embarrassed to be promoting it. There is practically no-one within NZTA who thinks thatthe project makes any sense, but they are compelled to proceed by their masters at the ministry.

    1. And potentially THEIR kids, because that PPP has a pretty long tail. We are talking of paying through our teeth to 2045!!!

  3. There will be a significant time saving as the old road will be dropped back in speed to a safe level considering how bad the old road is. The bad road layout and the continual cost of “fixing” it is the reason for building the new road

    1. The ‘old road’ isn’t that bad. Certainly nothing a barrier down the middle wouldn’t significantly improve as noted in the Operation Lifesaver plan. The only bad bits really, are Schedeways Hill, and if gradient is an issue, the climb up to the viaduct. Other than that the road is fine. Dome Valley isn’t even that bad. Fix the climb out of Warkworth (tunnel to the other side?) and perhaps another tunnel to miss the corner here: http://goo.gl/maps/yQplZ. The rest is pretty good and as good as the road on the northern side of Wellsford.

      1. I would guess that it would be much cheaper to make a cutting / lob of the hillside in the examples you’ve given rather than build tunnels – they’re very expensive! The proposed motorway has lots of cuttings and viaducts – but no tunnels. In fact I’m sure I read somewhere that the NZTA (or was it Transit then?) wanted to smash apart Johnston’s Hill but had to instead build the tunnel instead for environmental reasons.

        1. I only mentioned tunnels as the route through Dome Valley has quite a bit of native forest and tunnels generally cause less damage. Compared to the budget for the motorway, tunnels, would be cheap I expect

        2. I doubt tunnels would be possible given the nature of the rock in the area. If they can’t even find a suitably stable alignment for an at grade motorway I would hate to think how much a tunnel through the area costs.

        3. Yeah, in no civil engineer so I don’t know the ins and outs of tunnelling. Just offering thoughts. Like I say, most of the road is perfectly fine and even not too affected by gradient.

      2. Why are you even debating the Dome Valley? The announcement states that investigations for the Warkworth to Wellsford section have been postponed indefinitely. ie. it won’t be built. Those of us close to this project have known that more or less from the beginning. The WW to Wellsford section was only ever a sop to those short sighted people (including most of the councillors) in Northland who thought that a motorway halfway to Whangarei was the answer to all the economic woes of the north.

        1. Not debating, more ‘armchair engineering’ solutions to a couple of issues with the road 🙂

  4. What is it with you NIMBYS that are against the extension of the Northern motorway. It is going to be a tolled road so if you don’t want to use it, stick to the old road. People do drive cars and the public has a right to want a quicker route north. If we are prepared to pay for it then wind your red necks in and get on with your own business.

    1. Hi Rob. You seem to believe that the road will be paid off by the tolls of people using it. This however is absolutely not true, in fact the current toll road doesn’t even generate enough income to pay back the interest on the loan to build it. This new extension could be much worse as it’s costing us almost twice as much and probably will save less time. Hence there is a (large) opportunity cost in the normal transport budget to build this road. Many of us don’t believe that a full motorway is the best use of restricted transport funds. To be clear, if tolls would fully pay back or even come close to paying back the debt on building this road I would support it. Unfortunately traffic volumes are not that high.

      Also I think NIMBY is the wrong word. The location of the road is fine (pretty much it goes through farmland), we just think that the cost of building it is quite high compared to the benefits it will deliver.

    2. Firstly I don’t think you realise what the term NIMBY actually means. This isn’t NIMBYISM (which if you read the blog we frequently complain about) but is actually about making smarter use of our limited our money. I have no problem with paying a toll to use a road and on the occasions I have driven north, I happily use the existing toll road but the reality is if the toll you paid was enough to cover the construction of this section then no one would ever use it. The tolls paid on the existing toll road are only enough to cover a loan for less than half of the construction cost. Would you pay $10+ just to save 3 minutes per trip? The vast majority of the benefits from this project come from just bypassing Warkworth, that definitely needs to happen along with some other improvements but it doesn’t need a full offline motorway to solve the problem.

      1. Hey Matt, is $10 what would be needed if there was zero price elasticity or have you already adjusted for much lower use in that guesstimate?

        1. With respect, I don’t think CRL supporters can complain about road projects not paying their way.

        2. Quite Feijoa. I attempted to ask the same discuss the same sort of question on the CRL and everyone went on the defensive for some reason.

        3. But yes I expect you are right. There is no level of toll at which this project will pay for itself due to demand elasticity. Similar to AWHC, transmission gully, CRL etc.

    3. The public doesn’t have a ‘right’ to a faster journey at any cost. That’s the problem. I don’t have a ‘right’ to ask for rail to my doorstep so I can get to the CBD faster.

    4. So people in favour of public transport and against roading projects are now “red necks”. Wow I am used to being called a hippy or a socialist but red neck is a new one.

  5. Another point from the article worth mentioning is this:

    However, they have confirmed the motorway would almost certainly join up with a new link road to Matakana.

    I think this is good news as it helps makes the most of the project and addresses concerns about beach-goers missing out on the time savings.

    The article also complains that there will be no connection to Woodcocks Rd. I understand why they wouldn’t want to put that much traffic down there, but I wonder if the connection could be made in the future when/if Warkworth sprawls out there and the road is converted to more of an arterial?

  6. Woodcocks Road is also an industrial zone and source of commercial traffic. Matakana is a coastal gateway for visitors from Parnell. Which one gets a link says all we need to know about who this project is really for. The name is totally accurate.

    I’d encourage this blog to follow up about the relative impact on lives lost between this project and the cheaper Operation Lifesaver – http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/operation-lifesaver/

  7. About 35km – https://maps.google.co.nz/maps?saddr=Warkworth,+Auckland&daddr=Kaiwaka,+Northland&hl=en&ll=-36.295205,174.555588&spn=0.294974,0.617294&sll=-36.252579,174.597473&sspn=0.295135,0.617294&geocode=FaGZ1P0dnRtpCikLML7G9N4MbTEwGKNDYe8ABQ%3BFSQ52P0dkstlCinbmWdZb_IMbTEQ0qJDYe8ABQ&oq=kaiwaka&t=h&mra=ls&z=11

    Be interesting to see what previous transport plans for the Northland councils had identified as the biggest improvements to get freight and tourists around and out of their region (given the supposed justification for this project).

    Improving the dangerous Dome Valley stretch between Wellsford and Warkworth would surely be higher on their list than WW to Puhoi. And many other improvements much further north, I’ll bet.

    1. Except that the majority of Northlands population and industry is north of or in Whangarei, which is close to 100km from Warkworth. It’s very hard to see 5mins making a difference when there’s still well over an hour of travel left to do on rural roads.

  8. About 35km – https://maps.google.co.nz/maps?saddr=Warkworth,+Auckland&daddr=Kaiwaka,+Northland&hl=en&ll=-36.295205,174.555588&spn=0.294974,0.617294&sll=-36.252579,174.597473&sspn=0.295135,0.617294&geocode=FaGZ1P0dnRtpCikLML7G9N4MbTEwGKNDYe8ABQ%3BFSQ52P0dkstlCinbmWdZb_IMbTEQ0qJDYe8ABQ&oq=kaiwaka&t=h&mra=ls&z=11

    Be interesting to see what previous transport plans for the Northland councils had identified as the biggest improvements to get freight and tourists around and out of their region (given the supposed justification for this project).

    Improving the dangerous Dome Valley stretch between Wellsford and Warkworth would surely be higher on their list than WW to Puhoi. And many other improvements much further north, I’ll bet.

  9. (a) As a Northland resident I am very happy that it is called the holiday highway. It has nothing to do with access within Northland.

    (b) Anecdotal comment. There are good time savings to be had with justbputting in more passing lanes. The three passing lanes on the Ruakaka flats (between Whangarei and Waipu) reduced my travel time to Auckland by 15 minutes.

    (c) The money budgetted for the holiday highway would be better spent, in my opinion, on better rail within Northland and to Auckland so (logging) trucks can be shifted off the road, more passing lanes and Operation Lifesaver.

    (d) My experience is that using the Waiwera Road is about 5 minutes slower than the toll road usually, and faster when the toll road is chocker.

    1. Yep and I would be much happier with the overall project if it was about actually improving some of the roads in Northland. Operation Lifesaver fixing the majority of the problems then some of the money for this motorway going to do the same thing further north.

      1. A lot of SH1 north of Wellsford is in quite good shape compared to the Puhoi to Wellsford section, of course because they have been neglecting it and instead planning to completely bypass it with a motorway.

  10. Don’t be ridiculous, you people are in one of two groups. A. NIMBYS that don’t mind using motorways that go past other peoples homes but refuse to have one anywhere near your own or B. Idiots that are against the motorcar and want to force everyone onto public transport. I am not sure which group disgusts me the most.
    The Northern Motorway is a lifeline to Northlands economy. I do not care if that means it is a way to speed rich Jafas north to spend their money in our shops and tourism industry or if it knocks time off our commercial transport links to the rich markets located in Auckland CBD. The fact that a small minority of people in Warkworth that will now have to pay a toll to get pissed at the Puhoui Pub has no interest to me. You people are in favour of tolls elsewhere, get used to the one you will be paying on the motorway extension.
    This is progress, why should the people living to the South and West of Auckland have preferential treatment to those of us in the North? I look forward to the day the Motorway goes all the way to Whangarei and more of your Jafa dollars will support our long down trodden economy. Maybe some of you might even discover their is more to New Zealand than Ponsonby Road and move up here. The money you will save on housing will pay many years of road tolls.
    NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY…

    1. “The Northern Motorway is a lifeline to Northlands economy.”

      In what way? Come on, give some example in which THIS project is Northland’s lifeline? Not SH1 – THIS project. Any example?

      And get your terminology right. Even if we were the worst NIMBY’s on earth, we wouldn’t care about this, because pretty much no one is actually going to be affected by the road itself, beyond a few odd farmers. It is the profiligate WASTE OF MONEY that peeves us off.

    2. If you read the post Rob the project does not deliver the benefits you describe here. Do you have any evidence that a travel time saving of just a few minutes will do anything for Northland’s economy? Do you really think this project should go ahead, regardless of the cost for future generations?

    3. “A. NIMBYS that don’t mind using motorways that go past other peoples homes but refuse to have one anywhere near your own

      I don’t know where you get that from, or how it is relevant. As far as I can tell we both have no major issues with the environmental effects of this motorway.

      “B. Idiots that are against the motorcar and want to force everyone onto public transport.”

      That’s untrue. The ‘motorcar’ is the most versatile and main form of transport we have in NZ and will stay that way. I don’t think anyone is ‘against it’. Many of us believe PT should be given higher priority however, but this is again irrelevant, as PT is not practical for the Puhoi to Wellsford corridor.

      “The Northern Motorway is a lifeline to Northlands economy.”

      I agree that through urban areas coming into Auckland the motorway is important to speed up freight and people movements to/from Northland. But I disagree that it is any more of a ‘lifeline’ that the railway line or Northport. I also can’t see how an extension of the motorway through rural areas saving a relatively small amount of time will much effect SH1’s role as a ‘lifeline’.

      “I do not care if that means it is a way to speed rich Jafas north to spend their money in our shops and tourism industry or if it knocks time off our commercial transport links to the rich markets located in Auckland CBD.”

      You’re confusing me now. I you don’t care about these things then what benefits do you see in the road, new or present?

      “The fact that a small minority of people in Warkworth that will now have to pay a toll to get pissed at the Puhoui Pub has no interest to me.”

      Me neither, and they won’t have to pay a toll, they can take the old road.

      “You people are in favour of tolls elsewhere, get used to the one you will be paying on the motorway extension.”

      I have no issue with the proposed toll, I doubt it will be very high anyway.

      “why should the people living to the South and West of Auckland have preferential treatment to those of us in the North?”

      The majority of the country is south of Auckland, hence they are getting an expressway as far as Cambridge. West of Auckland they are not getting anything, SH16 is is worse condition than SH1.

      “I look forward to the day the Motorway goes all the way to Whangarei and more of your Jafa dollars will support our long down trodden economy.”

      Well a motorway all the way to Whangarei would certainly have a big impact. Extrapolating the cost of this road, however, gives a massive cost of nearly $4b. I can’t imagine that day coming any time soon under any government.

      “Maybe some of you might even discover their is more to New Zealand than Ponsonby Road and move up here.”

      Most Aucklanders I know have been to Northland and appreciate it’s beauty. I don’t see how a motorway is going to make many of them want to live there.

      “The money you will save on housing will pay many years of road tolls.”

      Not if we earn less money and the economy is less productive with us all spread out. Also tolls would be the least of my worries if I had to commute from Northland to Auckland each day. The time cost alone, not to mention fuel and vehicle maintenance.

      1. Sorry, mucked up the quotes, here it is again:

        “A. NIMBYS that don’t mind using motorways that go past other peoples homes but refuse to have one anywhere near your own

        I don’t know where you get that from, or how it is relevant. As far as I can tell we both have no major issues with the environmental effects of this motorway.

        “B. Idiots that are against the motorcar and want to force everyone onto public transport.”

        That’s untrue. The ‘motorcar’ is the most versatile and main form of transport we have in NZ and will stay that way. I don’t think anyone is ‘against it’. Many of us believe PT should be given higher priority however, but this is again irrelevant, as PT is not practical for the Puhoi to Wellsford corridor.

        “The Northern Motorway is a lifeline to Northlands economy.”

        I agree that through urban areas coming into Auckland the motorway is important to speed up freight and people movements to/from Northland. But I disagree that it is any more of a ‘lifeline’ that the railway line or Northport. I also can’t see how an extension of the motorway through rural areas saving a relatively small amount of time will much effect SH1’s role as a ‘lifeline’.

        “I do not care if that means it is a way to speed rich Jafas north to spend their money in our shops and tourism industry or if it knocks time off our commercial transport links to the rich markets located in Auckland CBD.”

        You’re confusing me now. I you don’t care about these things then what benefits do you see in the road, new or present?

        “The fact that a small minority of people in Warkworth that will now have to pay a toll to get pissed at the Puhoi Pub has no interest to me.”

        Me neither, and they won’t have to pay a toll, they can take the old road.

        “You people are in favour of tolls elsewhere, get used to the one you will be paying on the motorway extension.”

        I have no issue with the proposed toll, I doubt it will be very high anyway.

        “why should the people living to the South and West of Auckland have preferential treatment to those of us in the North?”

        The majority of the country is south of Auckland, hence they are getting an expressway as far as Cambridge. West of Auckland they are not getting anything, SH16 is is worse condition than SH1.

        “I look forward to the day the Motorway goes all the way to Whangarei and more of your Jafa dollars will support our long down trodden economy.”

        Well a motorway all the way to Whangarei would certainly have a big impact. Extrapolating the cost of this road, however, gives a massive cost of nearly $4b. I can’t imagine that day coming any time soon under any government.

        “Maybe some of you might even discover their is more to New Zealand than Ponsonby Road and move up here.”

        Most Aucklanders I know have been to Northland and appreciate it’s beauty. I don’t see how a motorway is going to make many of them want to live there.

        “The money you will save on housing will pay many years of road tolls.”

        Not if we earn less money and the economy is less productive with us all spread out. Also tolls would be the least of my worries if I had to commute from Northland to Auckland each day. The time cost alone, not to mention fuel and vehicle maintenance.

    4. “You people”. You mean the bloggers and commenters on this blog? I think you’ve just made a circular reference there Rob.

      “The money you will save on housing will pay many years of road tolls.” Like to post some facts relating to this? You’d obviously need to factor in the ownership and running costs of the vehicle as well.

      “NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY…”. As far as I know there is only 1 regular commentator on this blog that would have this motorway in their backyard. You know what this stands for eh?

    5. Oh Rob. I love Northland, spent most of my youth up there and still get back when I can and I’ll tell you this, this massive spend up does SFA for Northland. Ask the govt why they wont fund, or even co fund with NRC, the Marsden rail link and get 30 odd logging trucks, per hour, off SH1 between Marsden and the Maungatapere turn off? That would help Northland. Or spend a much smaller amount of money to implement Project Lifesaver that could have been saving lives now, not in 10 years. Or even upgrading the NAL. The time savings quoted by GB are all based on peak times (ie holidays) so will have little effect on trucking times. Bypassing Warkworth and Wellsford alone, would make a huge difference to travel times and convenience when travelling between Northland and Auckland. You may have forgotten to mention that NZTA are actually spending money in Northland. The bypass is being funded by them.

      1. Meanwhile, I would love to move back up north but while councils up there keep thinking small and about how to get around by car it doesn’t appeal. The planned town centre at Ruakaka is a huge disappointment and look like it was planned in the 70’s. It needs a condensed town centre with mixed use retail and residential, and a quick, regular PT link to Whangarei but that kind of thinking doesn’t exist up north.

        1. I agree with you 100% but the fact that there isn’t indicates that council don’t care for it. Whangarei should be adapting the same dense city option that Auckland is aiming for. Only then will a good PT network be viable. I’m sure there is plenty that can be done in the meantime.

        2. @S. I had a quick peruse of the Whangarei bus timetables. The routes are a nice mess of door to door service for some and no service for others. It also stops very early in the early evening. I wonder when the service was last reviewed?

    6. Maybe because only 158, 200 (2011) stats nz in the whole of northland vs 208, 100 (2010) stats nz just in west Auckland. Take a breath Rob and actually read the statistics and facts before getting too emotional.

    7. If you’re trying to divide people here into 2 groups, next time try A: male or B: female. Alternatively you could try A: born in the 80’s (love for you) vs B: not born in the 80’s (?).

  11. Very good article, aside from you you don’t include is the NZTA’s projections for traffic increases over the next 30 years heading north as Northland grows & Auckland expands.

    This road is not currently needed by 2020 to cope with increases in traffic volumes. So they are building it now.
    No different to the central rail loop. It is currently not needed, would be nice to have & would mean quite a few West Auckland could ditch there cars.
    However looks like we will cope to 2020. Beyond that Auckland will certainly require it.
    This road falls into a similar category, it just happens that it’s being built first.

    1. Except that central Government requires rail patronage to double on the existing network before they will commit to an earlier start date than 2020. For Puhoi to Warkworth it is full steam ahead even while traffic growth remains flat.

      1. Well that’s where it gets political.
        Key could start the CRL now, yet doing so blows Bill Englishs’ surplus target out the window.
        So we get a end of decade start date.

        It’s possible to start after next years budget, just not political possible for National with there previous electorate pledges of sorting the finances by this coming election.

  12. A lot of stuff about this motorway is happening behind the scenes. I think it should be stopped and dubbed a “White Elephant”

  13. For the avoidance of doubt, “NIMBY” is an acronym for “Not In My Back Yard”, so Rob your “B” interpretation of it just isn’t at all accurate.

    Please read the “Operation Lifesaver” article that is both linked to in the blog post above and on the top navigation bar – what benefits worth the extra cost does this motorway provide over Operation Lifesaver?

    Looking forward to your analysis of the project 🙂

  14. Does anyone know how much of the motorway they plan to part-fund by tolls, either as a dollar or percentage terms. I hope it is half or more, as then we might actually start getting some value for money from it. Also to make the toll collection process easier I suggest they combine this new road with the Orewa-Waiwera extension of the Northern Motorway (which I think opened in 2008) with a single toll of around $5. This will be unfair on people from Puhoi (who have to pay the whole toll despite using only a short portion of the new road) but solve the problem the existing toll road faces of a large portion of the toll revenue funding their collection, as well as encouraging more people to use the new road instead of the old one

    1. The collection costs a lot, because they have built a fancy automated free-flow system that can handle loads of toll roads around the country, even though it’s only used for one road at the moment. But Tauranga’s Eastern Motorway will use the same system, and Route K may be converted at some point.

      The main cost of the toll system is the largely fixed (and sunk) cost of the building the computerised backend, call centre, and so on: there’s no staff waiting around in toll-booths. So I wouldn’t think there’s that much cost in adding extra camera gantries so that NZTA can charge different tolls depending on how many sections you travel. We already have the tolling system now, so, if we must have Puford, we may as well toll it properly.

      1. Don’t forget that tolling should provide equally for people who don’t/can’t pay electronically. The current stop and pay cash machines punish such people with long delays, an extra charge, and relatively often the mahine not working.

        There should be a slip lane allowing vehicles past the toll cameras where you toss a coin in the slot and a barrier arm lifts and let you through.

        Unfortunately the NZTA ideology won’t allow it.

        1. So you advocate that toll roads should only be open to people who can pay electronically?

        2. No. The current option is not electronic only and I’m fine with that. But inline cash based machines would be hugely inefficient and no doubt expensive. Are you are okay for this extra cost to be built into the cost for using it?

        3. Yes, I just costed a system up last week. Of course I don’t, but see Hamish’s response below. Also consider peak time jams on the slip lane extending back onto the motorway.

        4. Any system that handles cash, even if it’s automated, requires securing and clearing. Unattended systems require much more security because they don’t have constant human presence while there’s cash around. That security costs money. Even dropping a coin into an armoured bucket still requires security of the bucket, a mechanism to validate the coin as tender and trigger the associated gate, and clearing of the bucket. The cheapest option is absolutely to do away with on-site payment of any kind, and the next-cheapest is to have e-payment kiosks.

        5. NZTA’s actually solving that problem… by getting rid of the stop and pay cash machines, and making it on account, credit card or nothing. 🙄

          If NZTA cared, there could be other non-electronic options that didn’t have a huge collection cost. The coin-op barrier arm is one. But I wonder if they could simply tack on the cost of all outstanding tolls to your rego when you renew it? Which would also catch people who just drive through and refuse to pay.

        6. NZTA’s actually solving that problem… by getting rid of the stop and pay cash machines, and making it on account, credit card or nothing.

          Where did you hear this? I don’t think that would be legal anyway.

        7. NZPost is an agent for NZTA, so any transaction with NZTA can be made at a Post Shop. This includes payment of tolls. So the removal of on-site cash payment machines does not break the law because there remains an option for payment which does not require identification of the driver.
          I’m not sure whether the machines are actually going (I have a vague recollection of reading that they are indeed being removed, because they’re such a nuisance), merely pointing out that they could be removed without the law being broken, or even being bent terribly far.

        8. The law I was actually referring to is the one where you must accept cash to settle a debt. I guess if you can pay at the post office that gets around it.

        9. The thing is that I think no matter how well designed a cash payment system like you describe is, it will still need to be manned in case something goes wrong. This would add massive costs

          The other thing is that induced demand probably applies here – if you make the cash option too convenient lots more people will try to use it, and soon enough you’ll be needing to add more and more toll booths at great expense and land take.

          Alternatively I would suggest offering an automated phone system at the normal price that can be used all the time (currently there is only an expensive one where you talk to the operator), as well as a text system where you text your rego to (say) TOLL (8655) after using the road and it clears your debt using your phone balance.

          The kiosks should also be modified to accept notes, eftpos and credit cards as well as coins, and an effort should be made to make them more reliable. Perhaps they could even purchase a few more machines.

          Finally I would change the law so like in other countries rental car companies are required to pay your toll for you, so tourists don’t have to worry about it.

        10. @SF Lauren

          I may be getting a bit confused. I don’t think the countries I’m thinking of do actually require it by law, but whenever I’ve hired a car they have paid my tolls for me.

          I still think it could be a worthwhile law, however.

        11. Hamish, I don’t think the rental car company pays anything for you – the get the bill as it is accrued by you and then debits your credit card. At least this is how Avis and Budget operate with RMS E-Tag tagging the renter each time the cross a toll point, sending the bill to the company and then they debiting your card. You will have sign an authorization along with the other documents you sign when picking up your car. You can’t rent a car without a having a credit card.

        12. Yes patrick – that is what I meant – the rental car company pay’s it on your behalf is what I should have said. Normally they also charge a ridiculous transaction fee – but at least it’s convenient.

      2. Actually the electronic collection is only meant to cost in the range of 2c per transactio, similar to any other EFTPOS transaction. The issue is that the bank operating the system is using it as a cash cow charging some $1.50 per transaction.

        1. I would imagine it all comes down to how public tenders work. The one with the lowest conforming bid wins and gets locked in for a number of years, and most likely all the parties that tendered offered similar rates as this is common overseas.

        2. That is nonsense. NZTA built their own bespoke system which is why collection costs are so high.

        3. Why would that make the costs any higher? Do you think they should have used an old system like pay booths?

        4. The “bank operating the system” is NZTA. The transaction costs are so high because they have to recoup the costs of developing a highly-scalable system from a very small number of transactions. If more roads use the system the transaction costs will drop because there are more transactions over which to spread a fixed cost. And once it’s all paid for, the transaction costs will be down to a few cents (more than 2 cents, but somewhere considerably less than a dollar). More than normal EFTPOS, but the scale of the system will remain smaller and the installed hardware that must be maintained from those fewer transactions is a lot more expensive.

  15. @ Rob Beazer “I look forward to the day the Motorway goes all the way to Whangarei . . .”
    Forget it. Northland doesn’t have the population to justify a mortorway to Whangarei.

  16. Just having a discussion with a friend about the use of public protests to both raise awareness and show personal opposition to public policy. She’s uncomfortable with the idea, and I’m pretty flexible.

    Do the very erudite and informed bloggers and commentators on this group, have events where they publicly oppose transport policies that don’t make sense (such as the one above), or do you utilise only the formal submission processes? When you are talking about significant spending, it seems a suitable way to show opposition.

    1. I don’t know who organised it by a large portion of the regular contributors forced their way onto the motorway on their bicycles in protest.

      When doing so they didn’t organise or pay for any traffic management and relied on the police to keep them safe and inconvenienced the general public for a number of hours.

  17. lol. It is funny that here you guys are being called Nimbys for being against a project you think is a waste of money and yet you are screaming the same abuse at residents against Skypath, some of whom say that project is a waste of money. I always like double standards 😀

    1. What they are is , Build Absolutely Nothing Near Anything Unless It’s My Personal Preference Or I Get A Substantial Benefit In Which Case It Should Get Blasted Through Whatever Is In The Way And Anyone That Thinks Differently Is A Troll. And In Addition To This I Shouldn’t Have To Pay For It As Not Enough People Will Use It To Make It Affordable Without Someone Else Paying For Most Of It.

      Not too sure what the short name is for that however.

        1. Transport projects and planning changes in general really. Although the trailing end is more relevant to rail.

      1. @SF, Phil was asking what we are, not what you are. None of our roads even come close to paying for themselves so why shoud PT?

        1. Don’t know what the first half of your post in about sailor boy, but for the second part all roads pay for themselves.

          The claim that they don’t is a common myth spread by anti-road folk who seem to think the majority of rate payers don’t have road access and that they somehow get teleported from their homes to buses which travel through wormholes from bus stop to bus stop which is located in a parallel dimension and hence not requiring a road.

        2. If you’re counting rates and taxes as meaning that roads pay for themselves, then PT obviously pays for itself too. In fact, every thing the government does “pays for itself” and the whole concept is meaningless.

          Anyway, I don’t agree with this business about deciding whether individual routes or modes of transport “pay for” themselves. The government pays cash up front for a road, but people can’t use a new road (and pay petrol taxes for it) until it’s built – so obviously 0% of the construction costs of any road are met by its users.

          When deciding whether to build a new road, or rail line, we should be thinking about which is the best choice for the future. If you insist that we must spend most of our transport budget on roads, just because that’s where most of the users are at the moment, and thus where most of the money comes from, then you’re locking in a car-dependent system that people don’t necessarily want any more (if they ever did).

        3. Exactly, Steve. Let’s build for the future not the past. And clearly this is something we shape and are completely free to shape differently.

          The idea that there is no choice expressed in current spending decisions is one of the most pernicious lies around the whole funding debate.

        4. Steve. Roads are paid for through rates and forms of road user charges.

          PT is paid for through rates, road user charges and occasionally general tax.

          Some PT projects however like the CRL are paid for through general tax and by popular demand road user charges rather than rates.

          Also PT charges fares which cover some of the operating costs, the higher the service frequency the less they cover however.

        5. Right, so roads, as a whole system, “pay for themselves” in exactly the same way as public transport – they are paid for partly by directly charging their users, but only very vaguely in relation to the value of the services they use, and partly by taxes & rates. I’m fine with that system in both cases, I don’t see why you object to it just in the specific case of rail?

        6. Sorry but I should have mentioned this before, but just recently in 1863 trains stopped driving on roads with a a few rare exemptions. To this extent trains are not road users and do not pay road user charges.

          As I recall they are planning on stopping air craft driving on roads and so they wont have to pay road user charges either. Well that’s what they said in the paper about 100 years ago from memory.

        7. The PT subsidies come from fuel excise because this actually benefits the private motorist by lowering the number of vehicles in the road space. Motorists either pay this amount or do away totally with PT, and pay both the visible (bitumen or concrete) and the hidden (social, environmental, health) massive extra DOLLAR value for even more tarmac!

          if Road charges cover 50% of the true road costs, bumping this to the nirvana 100% would easily mean $2.80 a litre or more – currently 53.524 cents which nicely equates to the share of the true costs. So increase that to 107.048 cents and voila Petrol head Nirvana. But thats just to meet the status quo – how much more to compensate for the loss of PT???

        8. SF: Your concern for making sure we both have all the information is commendable. I have in fact noticed that when I catch a train it runs on tracks, when I walk, I go on a footpath, and when I drive my car it goes on a road. It’s good that we’re on the same page here.

          But the fact that trains run on tracks means what exactly? They do pay track access charges, instead of road user charges, if that’s relevant to your mysterious logic?

        9. Steve D, do you think it makes sense to use the track access charges to build roads? If we did then we could get more freight and people off rail so that the people who decide to stay on rail get a better ride.

          In fact, lets make the Auckland rail network pay for half of the P 2 W. We can then get the international airlines that land at Aucklands to pay for the CRL and road users can pay for the new stadium in Christchurch.

        10. SF: In principle, I don’t have a problem with spending track access charges on building new roads, if for some reason we wanted to build a lot of new roads (or airports, or whatever) but felt we have enough rail. But at the moment, rail is only a tiny fraction of our transport system, so it doesn’t bring in nearly as much money as roads do at the moment. And like the authors of this blog, I think that we’ll get the most value from spending our transport funds (that we spend in Auckland) on expanding the congestion-free PT network, and making our streets friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than building new roads.

          I’m serious, I genuinely don’t get this idea that income from taxing road use needs to be spent on roads. It seems like a fairly arbitrary boundary. I can appreciate the idea that transport money should to be spent on transport, or that money from a particular route should to be spent on that route, or money from a particular person should be spent on something that benefits him personally – but why are “roads” the relevant category? If you hold that view, I’d like to understand why.

        11. Well that is great to know Steve, I admire your moral discipline and in an ideal world I would sort of agree. Land transport is land transport and if everyone was happy to share on a best for the country basis things would be great.

    2. This is not at all hypocritical Phil,

      The facts here are that the PuFord will cost at least 500-800 times (and growing) what the SkyPath would ever cost – even if using the worst projections possible.
      So much so that the CRL is going to be way cheaper than PuFord to build.

      And yet the new PuFord road will be of direct benefit to a population smaller than West Auckland for most of the time (Christmas holidays excepted).

      From what I see Skypath objectors like yourself seem to object to it on nothing much else except NIMBY grounds – end of story.

      So the biggest chucker of rocks at glasshouses, around here, is no one but yourself Phil.

      For PuFord, the key point for you is that you (as a Tax Payer, Rate Payer, purchaser of fuel/road user charges), and a couple of generations of your descendants will pay for PuFord massively over the next 30+ years in many many ways – not just for the financial cost of the construction – even if you/your descendants never used it.

      Sure most of the PuFord road will run “out of sight” of most people – but not all – and it will destroy a number of valuable wild habitats as it does so.

      Technically there aren’t a lot of objectors directly impacted who post here, but there are some, whether they are NIMBYs simply because they also oppose it on cost grounds is a different argument for a different day.

      But an additional major objection (over the mountainous and ever climbing costs) is that the existing road is crying out for much needed repairs and safety improvements
      – which would have a far bigger impact on everyone’s safety and quality of life for at least the next 10 or so
      – if these safety improvements were made
      – but they are on hold pending the PuFord “Holiday Highway” coming to pass.

      As the new road is years away from being started, let alone finished ANY safety benefits of the new road can’t be realised until then.

      Even if the road never goes ahead, the time lost while fiddling about considering it means it will still “cost” in lives lost on the current road when compared to the pittance that could be spent now on the existing road to improve its safety.

      Does that level of considered objection amount to a double standard? I don’t think so.

      1. The Northern Motorway extension is a toll road. Its user pays so why should anyone object. In the short term its creating employment and in the longer term, it will be needed.

        I object to Skypath on a number of issues that are well documented and very much less well argued against. Mostly when I post facts they get censored or ignored. The parking and congestion being just one example. The stock answer here is ‘people will not park and ride the Skypath’ as if you can say that with certainty. The residents are against building it because it will adversly effect their backyard. Its not a Nimby situation because unlike an airport or motorway the residents are not saying build it but somewhere else, they are saying dont even think about building it. Somewhat different from being a Nimby and as local residents have a huge financial investment in the area and cyclists dont, the local residents have every right to complain and halt the process.

        There have been posts from pro skypath people that object to tower blocks being built in Milford on the basis that local residents have a right to continue to enjoy their neighbourhood free of the shadow new construction will caste on their properties. It is nothing short of double standards that the same person doesnt care one bit about local residents right to continue to enjoy their neighbourhood when it comes to Skypath. Shame on these people for such appalling and obvious double standards…end of story!

        Your point on spending money on the existing road to save lives is fair and I accept that. That however is a separate issue to the fact that some posters on here object to the northern motorway extension simply because its where they live and doesnt provide a purpose built on/off ramp exclusively for their personal use.

        1. “The Northern Motorway extension is a toll road. Its user pays so why should anyone object”

          The road is forecast to cost $760million. Conveniently the PPP graph above illustrates the annual cost of running a $1b motorway at about $125m a year. So 75% of that is $94m per year. Let’s say there is traffic at the current level on the motorway of 15k per day. That’s 5.5m vehicles per year. So the toll would need to be $17 per journey to claim to be user pays. I can’t see that flying somehow.

        2. It also assumes that everyone possible will use the Toll Road, when there is (by law) to be an alternative free road available, which will therefore reduce the pool of 5.5 million toll payers to a smaller amount, making said toll even higher.

        3. Bryce that would make the toll $22 or so. Greg, I’d agree that such a level of toll would reduce the usage of the road quite substantially, which of course would then require a higher toll which would result in lower usage again. So it would seem that user pays may not be an option so Phil’s original question “Its user pays so why should anyone object” may be mute in this case.

        4. That however is a separate issue to the fact that some posters on here object to the northern motorway extension simply because its where they live and doesnt provide a purpose built on/off ramp exclusively for their personal use.

          Really? Care to back that claim up? There’s one commenter here who lives in the area, and objects to the Steven Joyce Memorial Holiday Highway on fiscal and environmental grounds, but I don’t recall any objecting because of personal impact due to the lack of north-facing ramps at Warkworth. Most of us don’t even live north of Albany, so it doesn’t matter to us if there are no ramps at Warkworth at all.

          As for your assertion that the SJMHH will be required in the future, care to back that up? The evidence is that traffic volumes are barely moving, which is not in any way a good case for building a billion-dollar road. There’s certainly no evidence before us that the SJMHH will solve a problem that cannot be largely addressed by completing Project Lifesaver for a fraction the cost and in a fraction of the time of the SJMHH. That the Warkworth-Wellsford section is now probably perpetually consigned to the circular file also speaks volumes about how truly inessential the road actually is; if it was vital, and justified, the geophysical challenges would be surmounted rather than deemed “too hard”.

        5. I am that commenter. I had no interest in transport matters at all until November 2010 when NZTA dropped a bombshell into my life and told me that they were going to demolish my house to make way for this motorway. I can hardly be described as a NIMBY as I won’t even have a BY affected by the motorway. I’m in the final stages of negotiating a settlement for compensation, so this scheme will have no impact on me at all- EXCEPT that I, like all other New Zealanders will be paying for this crazy scheme for decades to come. Even more worrying is that many, many more New Zealanders will have lost their lives on the existing hugely dangerous SH1 before they finally get round to building the new road. Latest predictions are 2019 for opening in 2025. The road is in a poor state now, with no money being spent on maintenance. Imagine the state it will be in by 2025. I’ve probably spent more time looking into this project than anyone else and these are facts:
          1. The road goes no-where near Northland. Even if it were to eventually be completed as far as Wellsford, that is almost exactly half distance between Auckland and Whangarei. Hardly providing an “umbilical cord to Northland” as some politicians are claiming.If they truly wanted to provide a faster route to Northland then they should have built the existing Alpurt much further to the west and the terminus would now be in a paddock somewhere near Kaukapakapa. Extension further north would have been much easier avoiding the horrendous landscapes around Puhoi, Pohuehue and the Dome Valley. But political pressure resulted in it primarily being built to serve the interests of landowners to the east of Warkworth and around the eastern beaches and to avoid confrontation with landowners to the north-west of Auckland.
          2. I have spent hours talking to engineers from NZTA and they are embarrassed by the project. Even they find it difficult to justify. The traffic numbers alone do not justify spending such a huge sum of money. Average daily vehicles 17,000 as far as Warkworth and 8,000 further north, which shows that most of the traffic terminates/starts at WW or east and does not travel to or originate from further north. $2.7 Billion to build the road makes no sense at all. NZTA clearly do not have the motivation to promote such a ridiculous scheme and the announcement that they have postponed indefinitely any further investigations will have come as a relief to their engineering staff.
          3. The section between Puhoi and Warkworth contains some very serious engineering projects which will change the landscape of the area for ever. Over 2Km of viaducts, including one over 200m long and 8m high over the Puhoi river on the outskirts of Puhoi village, two huge viaducts running down alongside the Pohuehue reserve and many huge cuts including one over 40m deep under Moir Hill Road. The environmental impact of the road will be huge.
          4. What Warkworth really needs is for someone to sort out the problem of the Hill St junction at the northern end of the town. Whether this is done by means of a bypass, a flyover junction or some other means is surely not beyond the capabilities of NZTA and could certainly be done for a reasonable sum. The lack of funds for this is entirely due to funds being re-allocated for RoNS projects.
          5. I drove to Whangarei just yesterday and I was horrified by the state of the highway between Ruakaka and Whangarei, due almost entirely to the battering it gets daily by 30/35 logging trucks per hour going to the port at Marsden Point. It must surely be only a matter of time before there is another serious accident. What everyone in Northland wants (except the road haulage operators) is to make the roads safer by getting these trucks off the road, cancelling the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, spending some of the money on immediately starting a scheme such as “operation lifesaver”, completing the rail link from the existing railway line at Oakleigh to Marsden Point to get the freight off the roads and onto the rails, spending some of the money on maintenance and road improvements within Northland and by investing in more jobs in Northland.
          6. The project is already running well behind schedule before it has even started. Start date now projected as 2014 to 2019 and finish as 2019 to 2025 means that 10 years will have been wasted. Interested parties, such as myself are also concerned at the number of consultants etc that are “clipping the ticket”. $17m recently spent on creating a “planning alliance” whatever that may be?
          7. If anyone needs further reading, have a look at the article I wrote in the Herald in April 2012 http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10716886
          Or read about Operation Lifesaver http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2011/11/02/looking-closer-at-operation-lifesaver/ first mooted by the Campaign fort Better Transport back in 2010.

        6. Hi Phil, NZTA don’t know how the motorway will be funded yet. They say they tolling is an option, but this is unlikely to cover the full cost (just at the current toll between Orewa & Puhoi covers approx 1/3 of that motorway cost).

          To avoid car parking & congestion issues for SkyPath, I understand the plan is to introduce parking restrictions so that only residents (and their guests) can park in the streets of Stokes Point.

    1. Yes that the myth I was referring to Sacha. It’s based on the assumption that most houses don’t have road access and just teleport everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *