Warning: if you have a weak stomach or scare easily then I’d recommend you don’t read on.

As I noted the other day, there seems to really be a concerted push at the moment on the East-West link. It was a strong feature in the Project Auckland op-eds and was of course named as one of the key projects by the government back in June. I’ve also heard that despite not having a (publicly) confirmed route or a business case, decisions on it are being made very quickly and that it’s going to cabinet for approval and funding in April next year. The real push for the project seems to be coming from the business community and as also mentioned the other day the councils support for it is believed to largely be a concession for the business community supporting the CRL.

While the route is yet to be officially decided, the purpose of this post is to highlight the kind of thinking and pressure that the various transport agencies are being placed under by business groups (not that they need a lot of encouragement). What has been proposed is appears to be very similar to what is known as Option 3, a reminder of which is below

Do we really need a $600m mini motorway between Onehunga and East Tamaki?

The image below has been sent to me by multiple people and was created by one business group as an indication of what they would like to see. They have called it Option 8 and a couple of notable points are

  • An underground interchange at with SH20 at Onehunga
  • An additional crossing of the Manukau Harbour
  • An 8-lane motorway from Onehunga to Highbrook (4-lanes per direction) with trains down the middle (who knows where they’re going)
  • 4.2km of tunnel (still 4-lanes per direction) from Westfield to Highbrook
  • New freight expressway going North-South along the foreshore at Otahuhu and another on Favona Rd
  • Massive scale traffic roundabouts (more on these soon)
  • Massive foreshore reclamation to try and pretend this is good for the local community

In addition to these points I also note they think the benefits should be assessed over a 100 year period. The NZTA have only recently increased the assessment criteria from 30 to 40 years so this is substantially longer and I wonder what the BCR of the CRL would be if we assessed it over the same length of time (hint: it would be massive)

East-West Business Assciation proposal

The expression of “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” springs to mind when I look at this.

As mentioned there are some massive scale roundabouts being mentioned as part of this proposal and are identified by the blue and yellow dots. Below is what they are proposing for these.

East-West Business Assciation proposal roundabout

Attached with this was a feedback form trying to get support for various aspects including

How do you rate Option 8 as detailed on the attached drawing – Low Support | | Medium Support | | High Support | |
Undertake an economic study by independent party. To include

Tax take
Wage Bill
Rates Bill
Transport spend
Fuel Spend
Electricity Spend
Water Sewage Spend
Plant & Buildings
Number of Employees
Number of Businesses
Reduction of carbon footprint
More efficient use of vehicles (possible reduction in fleet numbers)
Use of harbour sediment for multimodal link (serious environmental issue)
A true multimodal transport link to meet needs of all community
Life expectancy of East West Link
Savings to national economy based on all options and do nothing
Transport and Vehicle Ownership
Road Tax Paid

Other issues

PWA requires a major overhaul to become a good faith document
Use different approach to roading design
Include interchange connection with SH1
Reduce traffic volumes through established communities
Tunnel under Tamaki River as a seamless transport corridor
Reclamation of Harbour encouraged if results in open pubic green space

I was going to try and resist responding to the points but some are almost so hilarious I couldn’t help myself

Reduction of carbon footprint – Right so ploughing a new 8 lane motorway through will help with that
Reduce traffic volumes through established communities – I guess if you just wipe the communities out with a massive road then it can work a treat.

All up the proposal is truly horrific in how massive it would be yet even this is potentially not the worst option out there for the project (more on this tomorrow). But as I said at the start, it does show the kind of thinking that is coming out of some of our business groups about transport and highlights the kind of thinking that is still prevalent in some (powerful) sectors of the wider Auckland community.

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  1. What problem are they even solving? Why rail, why a motorway, why the unnel under the harbour, why a tunnel under the river, why this roundabout thing? Did Fulton Hogan write this?

    1. Yeah, the business community live in remuera and other eastern suburbs and stopped the motorway through their area. But it’s okay to butcher mt Richmond and otahuhu east.

  2. These proposals come from TOES (The Onehunga Enhancement Society) which is dominated by business people. Originally they campaigned for the Onehunga Bay Restoration project and spoke very much on behalf of the community but it seems they are now just speaking for the business sector and not on behalf of the wider community.

    1. Do they really come from these associations? This proposal comes from NZTA and us now being actively promoted by AT. The only reason any association ‘thinks’ this is a project that will deliver benefits to their business due to the flawed belief in the pseudo science of modellers and engineers!

  3. Once again – what the hell happened to the Waterview Tunnel as being “the completion of the motorway network”?

    The need for an improvement here is to separate freight movement from congestion caused by private cars. What meaningful positive outcomes does this project bring that would not be achieved with bus+truck lanes on Neilsen St, Church St and Sylvia Park Road? This isn’t using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, not even a jackhammer, it’s using a frigging nuclear bomb.

  4. Not wanting to sound defeatist but is it worth contacting councillors, politicians and so on about this. Or is this the poison pill Auckland has to take to get the CRL?

        1. No the east-west link (not this particular proposal) was the poison pill to get the business community agreeing with and pushing for the CRL. The business community have then lobbied the government telling them they should support it.

    1. You mean “Is this the poison pill Auckland is forced to swallow while the CRL keeps getting deferred?” The shell game is barely hidden anymore.

  5. Smaller scale roading connections would suffice such as connections from neilson st (but inland slightly) across to the bottom of Hugo Johnston (which is through asbestos contaminated land anyway), across to gt south rd, and another parallel to the railway line and saleyards rd. better to have more smaller roads to dissipate traffic rather than concentrate in one traffic sewer. The only thing I like is the favona cycle way but that would be the first thing to get dropped off course .

  6. Personally I think something reasonable needs to be done in that area, more than just truck lanes, but this looks way OTT (I gather it is deliberately OTT so that they can then come up with a slightly less OTT plan in the future and the affected people will think ‘well at least it isn’t as bad as the original plan’).
    If Neilson Street was entirely 4 lanes (it currently is 2 lanes in places) and there were much better interchanges at the South Western and Southern motorways, that should significantly improve journey times. It is such a short stretch of road that the difference between 50 km/h and 100 km/h isn’t really going to make much difference to journey times.

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head there JJ. If you’ve driven on the current road at all you’ll know that the bottle necks are at each end. The connecting road is just fine for the traffic levels that exist now. Fix the Onehunga connection from Neilson St to SH20 and sort out the mess of connections and motorway thinning around Tip Top corner on SH1/SE arterial and suddenly there isn’t much of an issue anymore. Certainly not one needing this level of ‘solution’.

    2. Yes something definitely needs to be done, widen Neilson St, improve (possibly even grade separate) intersections with Church St and Gt South Rd and add ramps from Church St to SH1 which would make a big difference.

  7. It sounds all very sensible to me I just don’t understand why they don’t fill in the harbour that would become a great carpark.

  8. Maybe it’s some sort of conspiracy to turn onehunga and Auckland into a terrible place to live. Grow berms a metre high, have new flight paths low overhead and drive a motorway through. Paradise!

    1. There no conspiracy. It is a desire by HNO engineers to keep themselves busy. Operations and maintenance is flatlined. WTerview nearly finished. Oh what to do when asked by the PM about what is needed? How about exaggerating the ‘need’ for a few projects? Of which the southern corridor and four laning of southern motorway become urgently needed! Why crack a nut with a nutcracker when you use a sledge hammer.

      1. Yes have heard that HNO have been going crazy in recent months dreaming up crazy schemes to even more motorways, especially after the government announced their transport package

  9. “Significant suitable motorway land lost to development”

    My god! How dare they! Building homes and businesses instead of Tarmac, what kind of crazy development strategy is that?!?!

  10. There’s an Option 4 organising meeting at the Mangere East Community Centre tonight, at 7pm. Mangere won’t take this sitting down.

  11. Fred is right – Option 4 is even worse than Option 8 although both options are the worst of both worlds here.

    Exactly where is the freight going from A to B to C here? Is it Onehunga to Highbrook or Highbrook to the Airport? Depending on that particular answer is will shape the next answer I give…

  12. Under ‘Economics’ we have ‘Significant suitable motorway land lost to development since 2007’. Those pesky private developers not doing what is right for Auckland again.

    This is a ‘business’ organisation pushing for this eh? Not the communist party from 1952? Surely this has been released 5 and a bit months early.

    1. It’s also a bald-faced lie. Unless the developers illegally built on land they don’t own, no “motorway land” has been lost at all. Zero. What ass*****.

  13. Could it be that they moved it south away from panama rd because the business community has links to spring park residential development being built on panama rd. they don’t want to devalue that development.

    1. Add in a small airport, a nuclear power plant or two, an open pit mine, a petrobas tanker docking port and it would be just perfect!

        1. It was a very light and ultralight aircraft airport. Given its proximity to major powerlines, it’s a good thing it closed, but otherwise it didn’t bother anyone – these aircraft are about as noisy as an average car, and considerably less noisy than a large truck.

  14. In addition to what others have said there are some really weird things about this proposal.

    It demands 4 lanes in each direction, yet doesn’t want to grade separate any of the intersections. A good-sized roundabout may be pretty efficient but they can’t take 4 lanes worth of limited-access traffic. They would be much better off dropping down to three lanes in each direction (and cutting the railway line) and instead grade separate the interchanges. Fundamentally as a short distributor road whith lots of weaving and restricted interchanges at each end 3 lanes would probably work better anyway. They even state themselves that the existing route only carries 60k vpd.

    Also some of the places they have suggested these large roundabouts that aren’t on the main highway would require the destruction of a whole lot of industrial buildings. In these places much smaller traffic light would work just as well if not better.

    Their proposed SH20 interchange seems good (if expensive) yet they fail to provide any detail on the SH1 interchange. This could vary wildly in cost and land take depending on what design speed and connections they want. They’d also need braided ramps with Princes St and probably want to 8-lane SH1 from their interchange north to Mt Wellington and south to Highbrook.

    Fundamentally this plan seems very adverse to any land take except through reclamation, since they want to tunnel it pretty much everywhere except along the foreshore and want to pay extra compensation to nearby landowners. This seems unnecessary, and not something I’d expect from this community. Some land acquisition, especially through industrial areas wouldn’t be a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    1. I agree with the really weird things about the proposal. It is rather poorly thought out, and how the railway line will go through the middle of these roundabouts (plus the face with having to deal with so many roundabouts close together you will barely be able to get to 100 kph anyway. and I fully agree the roundabouts with 8 lanes of traffic will be very interesting (better to go with traffic lights if not grade separation) as well as not meeting the motorway definition. It seems half a motorway, half an arterial route, and will do neither well

      Here is how they should improve their proposal (as well as reduce the massive budget).
      1) axe the rail link and cut the road to 4 lanes in each direction
      2) Keep their proposed SH20 intersection. It is good an preserves the volcanic cone and is underground, so no bad visual effects
      3) have their new Manakau harbour bridge go over the new motorway and connect into Alfred Street. Have an eastbound onramp onto the motorway and westbound off-ramp of it onto this bridge. put traffic lights on the bridge
      4) After Alfred Street have 2 km cut and cover tunnel under new reclaimed land. Keep all the rest of the reclamation. This will create a large new waterfront park. Cut the Anglo Miami Parade connection
      5) fully grade separate the intersection with their new Otahuhu freight corridor, Sylvia park Road and “Nelson Street transport hub” connection with a giant roundabout above the motorway, similar to the current Greenland and Ellerslie-Panama highway intersections on SH1
      6) have a 2km Otahuhu tunnel to the SH1 intersection, which will be fully above ground. this will involve demolishing all houses and purchasing all property in Coppins and Kotahi groves, as well as some on Mataroa grove. The new intersection to replicate the existing SH1/SH20 intersection.
      7) removing the northbound onramp and southbound of-ramp from the existing Otahuhu interchange. Extend Carbine Road south to link into Frank Grey Place and the existing Otahuhu interchange, to compensate for this, and also fulfil some of the function of the Panama Road on/off ramps in option 3
      8) build a 3km 2 lane tunnel as proposed under the new SH1 intersection and Seaside Park and the Tamaki River to Highbrook. If traffic from Highbrook want to get to SH1 they can use the existing Highbrook interchange.

      This is probably a cross between their proposal and option 3. Even though it will still cost around $4 – $5bn, being about twice the size of Waterview. What do you guys think of my proposal?

    2. I think responding to elements of the design study miss the point. The questions to answer are ‘what are the issues we need to fix in this area?’ and ‘how are those best addressed?’. Commenting on individual elements of a hare brained plan and how to improve it don’t address either of those questions and start to lend credence to this back of the envelope plan.

      1. I was just pointing out that even though this suggestion would by far be the most expensive, it is majorly flawed and seems to be based on the idea that more lanes is better, no houses should be demolished, and that medium sized roundabouts are magic.

  15. Anyone who has posted so far currently working and doing business in the affected areas?

    I regret the lack of attention paid to this area generally.. there seems to be generally, including on this blog, way too much of focus on areas like Ponsonby rather than Penrose even when by comparison the former is a PT, cycling and walking paradise.. and on a second crossing for the Waitemata when the busiest crossing in Auckland is actually over the Tamaki River.

    As evidenced by comments above describing the solution as “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and to dismiss the idea (without reference) that this area so important.

    Like it or not, areas like East Tamaki, Otahuhu and Penrose actually exist and serve a crucial role in keeping clean and green NZ’s wheels turning. A huge variety of businesses in those places need to continue to grow.. as the population and economy grows.

    1. I fully agree that something needs to be done in the area and I don’t think anyone is disputing that however I don’t think that the automatic solution should be a massive motorway.

    2. And if we are going to spend money on roading the priority should be to improve business competitiveness, not commutes or holidays, so I would be happier for money to be spent here than on a second harbour crossing for example. But this proposal is still complete overkill, Auckland already has a lot of motorway for its population, we can solve the issues in this area without a new motorway.

  16. Dear oh dear, here we go again, back to reclamation of the foreshore for good old motorways, god knows Westhaven and Northcote aren’t exactly picturesque , although its happening with gay abandon on the North Western like its the early 20th century. Its about as fashionable as discharging raw sewer into the harbour or shooting Rhino’s on safari and standing over the corpse and having ones photo taken but I shouldn’t make light of this or both ideas may make the top 10 list at Steven Joyce’s laughably named “Ministry for Business and Innovation”

    And another bridge over the Manukau, Christ how many more until its paved over?

        1. That would be the giant car park of used import vehicles already started with a four lane motorway for those cars and container trucks with cheap chinese junk to quickly get to the car parks at Sylvia Park and Botany Downs. Now that’s living the life in suburbia!

  17. Coming from an IT background, the process being used here is completely wrong.
    The users of the system (in this case business community) should be listing their requirements (e.g. under 10 minutes from Neilson to airport, etc) and the NZTA should be building a design to meet as many requirements as possible.
    The design should be coming from NZTA (the ‘experts’), not a bunch of people that obviously have very little knowledge.

    1. That model doesn’t work for transport, and it’s what’s wrong with the enterprise IT business, too. The client puts everything under the sun in the requirements list, and the “experts” dutifully design a system to do it all… at an eyewatering expense, so they lie to the client to win the contract. A better model is a back and forth, where the experts are constantly working out the implications, and informing the clients of the consequences of doing things a particular way. Then the community can make informed choices about the options: not just leaving it all to the experts.

      In reality, everyone wants to be able to drive everywhere within five minutes, have free parking right outside their destination, never experience congestion, and not have to pay anything for any of it. Can you imagine what would happen if we just wrote that down, told NZTA to make it happen and left them to it?

      1. I guess I meant that the business community should be helping with the requirements, not the design. The requirements need to be ordered in terms of priority, and as the NZTA are the ones paying for it, they should be responsible for ordering the requirements and determining what is in and out.
        But when someone goes straight into design without a good idea of the requirements (and the costs / benefits of each) you end up with a design that either doesn’t meet the core requirements, or meets a whole lot of non-requirements at extra cost (like the above plan).
        If the only requirement is to get trucks in and out of Onehunga industrial quicker, then there is no need for a motorway, no need for connection to highbrook, etc.

  18. Yes it does seem funny that a proposal that hasn’t yet been thought about that much, has a much higher priority than the CRL proposal that has been in the pipeline for nearly a 100 years. I think the main problem is that NZ is such a car dependant country so roading projects get much higher priority than public transport projects. If we are to tackle congestion then building the CRl is the way to go it will pay for itself a 1000 times more than a piece of tarmac, besides they already have an East to West Link, the Manukau link already connects to SH20, I fail to how this motorway will prevent congestion because the only thing it is likely to do is create a bottleneck for the traffic joining onto to SH1, much like the Manukau link does.

    1. Yes you are right. A deep seated belief that building roading capacity will resolve ‘congestion’ despite the lack if evidence to support this belief. Predict provide planning based on puesdo science overrides common sense.

  19. I had a long walk around here yesterday afternoon, at 2.30pm and 5.30pm. Major issues seemed to be that northbound traffic that has crossed the Manukau, and tried to exit at Onehunga got stuck due to lack of capacity on Onehunga Harbour Road. This backed up half way across the harbor bridge, and congested traffic in all of the lanes. By widening Onehunga Harbour Road by one lane heading north would fix this issue. Would be easy, corridor wide enough to do this.
    This was the only serious bit of congestion I noted. Yes cars backed up for a few 100m at lights at 5.30pm, but there were no issues at all at 3pm.
    So clearly a ofn excess single occupant vehicle issue.

    1. I think there is way more that needs to be done than that. The SH20/Neilson St intersection needs a vast improvement, as does the links between the SE arterial and SH1.

  20. One wonders if they are only including trains because the road builders want more of the Avondale/Southdown corridor.

    Rather than let the focus be on a supposed ‘missing link’ between two motorways, it would be interesting to know where the primary origin and destination of the majority of this traffic is located.

    Are there any feasibility of a new industrial rail link helping to plug this gap?

      1. I think you are both right to a degree.

        I don’t think rail is an option to replace this road. Most of the journeys would be too short and too point to point for rail to offer any solution.

  21. And how does all this fit with the AMETI plan for a 4 lane flyover over Reeves Road and a second (4 lane) crossing of the Tamaki river, duplicating the current Waipuna Road bridge?

    Sounds more like a complete overkill, for what is *only* 60,000 Vehicles per day – which is about half the harbour bridge’s traffic.

    And in any case, once its built, will the truckies pay the (inevitable) toll on the road and tunnels to pay for the massive cost?

    This plan makes even the OTT PUFORD highway look like a cheap deal.

    This plan looks to me like the original Eastern Motorway proposal in the ’90s – the one that eventually sunk John Banks (not that he needed much help on this).

  22. Oddly enough, Banks was quite popular with the citizens of Auckland and if he hadn’t decided the Eastern Motorway was the cat’s pyjamas he’d have probably been re-elected. It was only because the denizens of Remuera objected to a motorway in their backyard that he was turfed. And the Eastern Motorway wasn’t all that unpopular outside of Remuera; the New Zealand Herald, that intrepid organ of fair and balanced opinion, thought it was a fantastic idea. Nimbyism works, even for motorways, but only if you’re wealthy, powerful and very well connected.

    1. Times change.
      I am sure that lots of Aucklanders including the Granny Herald thought a nuclear power plant on the Kaipara harbour was a good once too.

      But we’re wiser than that now, and don’t you think we need to a bit smarter with our thinking here too?

    2. And sadly, NIMBYism is working a bit too effectively against the Unitary Plan. For the simple fact that it’s a genuine threat to the property cartel, repackaged as ‘heritage character protection’ and ‘open wide spaces for kids to play’.

  23. Surely the solution would be a four to six lane semi segregated arterial from SH20 along Neilson and Church Streets going straight into the SE Arterial with truck lanes. Grade seperation at GSR and possibly the junctions on the SEA in the future? This is just about moving freight isn’t it?

      1. I think we all accept that the freight movements are the issue here….. This wpuld solve that problem for a fraction of the cost.

  24. Before you worry about trucks and cars and public transport, or even bicycles, what about pedestrians in this general area. You can’t walk that easily around some of these areas, forcing small trips into car trips. Maybe if those cars weren’t on the road the trucks could get where they want to go, wherever that is. A careful check of footpaths in relation to public transport stops will also reveal some major holes in the network. Lets fix the little things that won’t cost the earth and see if they will improve the perceived major problems.

  25. Sorry in advance for what may seem like a dumb question, but what is with the “traffic circle” being reduced to “modern roundabouts”? To me it almost seems like they have the Before and After labels on the wrong photos. Are they saying that a smaller roundabout works better and faster than a large roundabout that is designed for higher speed traffic? I’m lost.

    1. The “before & after” makes little sense, because there is no before here – they are planning all / most of them as new ones anyway.

      As for the “benefits”, they of course totally ignore the fact that such a design is useless for an 8 lane motorway-that-dare-not-say-it’s-name, and that these are absolutely horrid for pedestrians and cyclists, to the degree where not even the most old-school NZTA roading engineer would consider allowing peds & cyclists on or across them, meaning that without numerous expensive overbridges, this will end up another horrible “moat” cutting off everything frome everything unless you are driving a car.

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