At the beginning of the month the formal hearings began for the notice of requirement on the City Rail Link. Those hearings have finished and it will be a few months before we hear back the results of them however one of the biggest issues is the impact the construction works will have on Albert St. Auckland Transport have released this video which was used at the hearings to explain how the construction on Albert St will happen.

While the construction will definitely cause disruption, hopefully this method of only doing one section at a time will help to reduce the impact. I also wonder if there is anything else we could do with the space above the tunnel rather than just backfilling it.

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  1. Any idea whether Albert St will simply be restored to what it is now? Seems like a good opportunity to consider whether we could look into improving/upgrading the streetscape along with the construction of this part of the CRL.

    1. They are looking at various options for improvement as the road is reinstated.

      I would expect three outcomes there, traffic maintained but maybe not no1 priority, enhancement to the bus lanes, and big improvements to the walking environment to support the flows in and around the station.

  2. Perhaps they could tender out the underground space for parking, could be part of a grand bargain for the CBD as part of eliminating parking minimums for new buildings…

    1. We don’t need a compromise, though, since there aren’t any parking minimums anywhere near Albert Street, and haven’t been for (I think) well over a decade.

    1. To be honest I think an underground park is a cute idea but useless in reality. We have lots of good parks and ever improving public spaces at street level.

      My guess is if there is no use for transport then why not make it retail, have a mall level above the station.

      1. If nothing else, just leave the space hollow. Then we can use it for something later. If you backfill it, that’s it.

      2. Just giving this example to elicit some ideas other than turning the space into carparks. I don’t necessarily support the idea of an underground park, which admittedly could be quite useless in reality. Yes, a mall level was the first thing I thought of too. But as with parks, we pretty much have that covered already (excuse the pun) especially when taking into account a post-CRL resurgence. So what don’t we have that could work underground, artspace, museum (maybe MOTAT can have a permanent CRL exhibit there), archives, freight tram, bus storage? Anything really, it just seems such a waste of opportunity with the huge costs and interruptions involved in having a part of the CBD dug up.

  3. With that much backfilling, I seriously doubt it.

    BTW, that is a very spiffy video. Autodesk InfraWorks? If so, bloody good work!

    1. Hi Seamonkey Madness & Mr Plod, thanks for the nice comments! The model has been built and rendered in SAP Visual Enterprise Author, formerly Right Hemisphere’s Deep Exploration. 100% New Zealand designed and built software. This is a basic DirectX render, but we can do some pretty nice stuff with the built in HDR renderer in the same software, it just takes a heck of a lot longer. For example, this is the same Auckland City model, rendered in HDR for the City Centre Masterplan –

  4. I didn’t see any sort of smaller tunnel on top of the train tunnel for the installation of all services that the area will require (electrical, cabling,
    water,sewage etc and which will allow easy access for maintenance. Much better than backfilling and for ever digging up when maintenance or further installation needed.

  5. Yip, great little video. How about a little duration ticker running through the video. Is this a 6 week, 6 month or 6 year exercise?

      1. When we’ve discussed this previously, the consensus seemed to be that they’d do a block at a time. The video says, I think, that they’d do the whole length in one go. The Buckle St cut-and-cover tunnel in Wellington is 300m long. I believe the construction started early this year and is due to finish late next year. I have no idea why it takes that long to dig a trench, but multiple Auckland city blocks could be blighted by ongoing construction for a couple of years. I hope that they’ve thought how to do this without leaving the street an un-tenanted wasteland by the end of the process.

        Oh, and I can’t imagine using the spare space for anything meaningful. Underground spaces are usually damp, clammy, and generally unhealthy. We’re not that hard up for space that we need to locate anything in an underground bunker.

  6. If the space above the tunnels is backfilled where does the fill come from? When the first stage of the trench is dug out the fill will have to be taken off site. Is the fill required then returned to site or is it obtained from the next section’s excavation? It could mean a large amount of double handling if each section is completely finished before the next one is started.
    Why not leave the trench open and have the road traffic running in the trench when deep enough the space at surface level could form a park/pedestrian area etc.

  7. After the palislade walls are complete, why not place precast beams and pour a concrete lid to form the final road surface?
    It could be constructed in short sections to minimise surface disruption.
    Once complete, the road is reopened and people carry on their lives as usual.
    Excavation and construction can carry on underground without being an eyesore, or creating a dust & noise nusiance.

    As for backfilling, that space would be better used for any of:
    -Supermarket & shops
    -Car parking
    -Putting the road underground and having a park / plaza / square / open space / cycleway on the surface
    -Grade separation of intersections
    -Underground bus terminal
    -Pedestrian underpasses
    -Sewerage / stormwater surge tanks
    -Civil defense bunker
    -Services tunnel
    -Swimming pool
    -Hotel kitchens/laundry
    -Datacentre? Phone exchange?
    -Provision for future by leaving as empty space

    1. I would massively prefer backfilling to car parks or grade seperated intersections. Nelso And Hobson streets are for moving cars. Albert for busses, and Queen St for Peds.

  8. I’ve been doing a little figuring from some of the details I can find on the net and I there is one big problem with using the backfilled space. It looks like there isn’t much room above Aotea Station where the platforms and concourse level are much taller than the basic tunnel itself. So that means there isn’t space for an underground road, bus station or anything else on the section where the station sits between Wellesley and Victoria Sts.

    That doesn’t stop you using the bit north of Victoria for something, but it does mean nothing can really fit above the station.

  9. Stormwater surge and settling tanks could be a really good idea.
    Stormwater runoff into the Waitemata from CBD includes lots of nasties from roves and pavements.
    Not sure if this might require extra strength construction though.

  10. Love the comment about a ticker showing the speed this will be moving up and down Albert Street. Double the time planned by Council. Then double it again.

    Given how slow stock standard projects rollout in this city, expect delays. For quite some time.

    By the time Albert St reopens, everyone will have forgotten what it was like to drive down it, making it a perfect candidate for a shared space at the very least, surely.

    1. “By the time Albert St reopens, everyone will have forgotten what it was like to drive down it, making it a perfect candidate for a shared space at the very least, surely.”

      Very good point, but I thought Albert St was going to be an important bus route post-CRL?

    2. “Given how slow stock standard projects rollout in this city, expect delays. For quite some time.”

      A tunnel in an urban environment like this can’t be considered stock standard, even if it’s been done hundreds of times – elsewhere. And I feel that PT infrastructure projects in Auckland have actually been progressing well enough – it seems mainly the funding where we keep hitting snags and delays…

  11. All the proposals for bus / roads in the space in-between forget that that would need access ramps & so on. Basically turning whatever entry/egress points you’d have into a convoluted motor vehicle space. Not easy to do in the CBD without destroying the walkability / cycleability we are trying to also achieve.

    Ideas of leaving it empty and using it for conduits, pipes or storage (rent it out to the nearby buildings!) would make more sense, if the construction was strong enough.

    Also, I am confused why they don’t close off the top first after they have gone deep enough (like 4-6m) and then do the rest underneath a reinstated street? Presumably, that’s more expensive even though it is less disruptive, so they go for a consent that allows them to do the more intrusive method, and later on, they can still switch…

    As for the future road layout on top of the street – agreed, we need to start thinking of that, but it’s of little relevance to the CRL Notice of Requirement process, so they don’t really cover it much, which I understand.

    1. Probably because they can provide a lane for traffic each way, and footpaths, around the construction site regardless. Surely much cheaper, easier and faster to have an open construction site.

      Interesting point, it means that Albert St might have to become basically bus only during construction.

      1. “Interesting point, it means that Albert St might have to become basically bus only during construction.”

        Shush, don’t scare the frightened kittens!

        [Actually, I don’t believe it will/could be made bus only. It would be a crap route in any case, trying to squeeze through a narriow lane – and local access traffic would mix badly with bus traffic in a single lane! Better to provide for buses along Queen, Hobson Nelson in the meantime. We could do temporary bus lanes there, until they return to Albert Street.]

  12. Put permanent buslanes on Queen and re-route the Albert St buses there for the duration. Too many car destinations of Albert, including two very unpleasant multi-story car parking buildings on what was a wonderfully urban and textured Durham Lane but is now a vile car sewer that should never ever have been consented.

    And get the silly dabs of parking out of Queen while we’re at it. Convert them all to loading zones or build out the pavement.

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