Last night’s announcement that Auckland Transport and the NZTA have dropped the option of running a motorway through Mangere is great news and they should be commended for doing the right thing. However as usual it raises a lot of questions so I thought I would look into what impacts the announcement will have. Here it is again and I’ve emphasised some of of the statements I think deserve greater attention:


Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency say that providing better connections for freight in Auckland’s industrial hub of Onehunga/Penrose will release early benefits for East-West related investments.

Auckland Transport Key Agency Initiatives Group Manager, Rick Walden says, “the work we’ve done to date supports focussing our efforts to the north of Manukau Harbour. This is likely to solve a number of transport-related issues in the economically significant area of Auckland.

Our focus on the north side is the key priority for our two organisations for at least the next decade and no new major road links will be progressed on the south side of the Manukau Harbour between SH1 and SH20 at this stage. This will be welcomed by communities in the South who have expressed concerns regarding the potential impacts of the East-West Link.”

Mr Walden says that Auckland is a growing city and in order to meet anticipated growth, future investment throughout the city – including South Auckland – will be required.

“We’ll continue to work closely and collaboratively with communities to find the best solutions to maximise our public transport infrastructure, as well as enhancements to existing roads before any new roads are considered.

The Transport Agency’s Acting Auckland Highways Manager Steve Mutton adds that evidence highlights the economic importance of the Onehunga/Penrose area, and that improving access for freight will be an important component of improving and growing Auckland’s economy.

“This area is Auckland’s industrial heartland employing some 60,000 people and it continues to grow. Ensuring that freight has safe and efficient connections to and from the state highways is a key priority for us.

Improvements being considered for the Onehunga/Penrose area provide better access for freight and commercial vehicles to the state highway network from this heavy industrial area – while keeping other road users safe.”

Our studies show that many of the benefits can be realised without major roading investments to the south side of the Manukau Harbour.” says Mr Mutton.

Mr Mutton says that further work is required to determine the preferred option and any likely impacts.

“We’ll continue to work with our stakeholders and customers as these investigations progress to make sure we get the best possible solutions in place for local communities and Auckland as a whole,” he says

To me there are two things the comments immediately suggest that are both quite important.

  • That they have heard the community’s wishes and are going for options that effectively don’t require difficult community consultation going forward.
  • That the scope is being limited to improving connections between the state highways on the northern side
  • The focus is now on using existing infrastructure where possible rather than massive new projects.

Pulling those three things together it suggests that straight away options 3 and 4 have been ruled out as both run through residential areas (note: for option 3 I am primarily talking about the part from SH1 to Highbrook).

East-West Option 3&4 gone

That leaves us with just options 1 or 2 – or perhaps a variant of one of those. I’m picking a variation of option 2 which is shown below (the only difference between 1&2 is the section of road in black along the northern side of the Mangere Inlet). The reason for this is the red upgrade suggested from Gt South Rd to SH1 and up Carbine Rd would also require removing houses from the community which would nullify the suggestions that people have nothing to worry about any more. Perhaps instead they would take the road North-east from Gt South Rd to connect at the Mt Wellington interchange. As for improving connections to SH20, perhaps improvements to Neilson St are being considered which would fit in with the comment about enhancements to existing roads first. I’m also picking the black section of new road between the Highbrook interchange and Gt South Rd has also been deleted.

East-West Option 2

If what I have suggested does happen the outcome wouldn’t be too bad and something I think we could live with. It’s certainly far better than the crazy and massively expensive options 3&4.

I’m quite interested to see what public transport infrastructure they are going to suggest. The only things that spring to mind in the immediate area is grade separation of the Westfield rail junction and bus priority on Mt Wellington Highway – particularly around/through the Mt Wellington interchange.

There are still a few things that concern me though. The comment that the focus is on the north side of the harbour for the next decade suggests that in they could build something like option 2 then come back in the future and try to build option 4 again – although I imagine the community would be even stronger in opposition by then. I’m also wondering if we could just be seeing the classic road builders approach. Scale the projet back and build the easy section in the middle between the two motorways to create some demand then come back in a few years claiming there is a missing link that needs to be completed.

On the whole I think the announcement is positive. There is definitely a problem in the area that needs to be solved and in my opinion the focus on improving existing routes first is definitely the right one. As I mentioned the other day I do think everyone involved should really be considering tacking on the project for a third rail line between Papakura and Otahuhu as part of this project and AT should also be requiring that the Port of Tauranga implement a vehicle management system. I have a couple of other ideas that I will explore in the future about projects that could be included at the same time.

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  1. I agree it’s wise to remain skeptical about whether the long term plans still want to do option 4. I mean there’s still an eastern highway designation in the Unitary Plan despite the project not even being in 30 year transport plans.

    1. Does Auckland Council actually have the power to remove that designation? It’s in NZTA’s name, wouldn’t they be the only ones able to cancel it?

  2. Regarding Mt Wellington interchange, part of AMETI already plans for a bus-only road from the Mt Well/Sylvia Park Rd intersection to follow the railway under the motorway until reaching Sylvia Park. This would lead to buses completely avoiding the interchange.

  3. Would have thought that double tracking the onehunga line was one obvious pt improvement. Or rail across the harbour if they are serious

  4. With regard option 1/2.

    I think they should think again about putting any kind of roads along the northern side of the Manukau Harbour, especially some kind of pseudo-motorway.
    I know its tempting for the road builders to say – well this is not used for anything, lets shove a road on it, no one will notice.

    Cities around the world are ripping out such roads that do little but sever the water/foreshore from the rest of place (Seattle for one).

    While this is an industrial area, the foreshore does need to suffer the same poor industrial design thinking we get for more inland roads through an industrial wasteland.
    This strip of foreshore will become more and more valuable as a green space over time – it could in time become the Manukau equivalent of Tamaki Drive.
    But lets not sully it with a motorway for trucks, without exploring other (better) options.

    And any changes near the Metroport, also need to factor in not only preserving, but also improving the existing rail corridor right of way from Nielson St through to the existing Onehunga rail line. This is to ensure that any chance of a possible future Southdown to Avondale rail link is not jeopardised.

    Lastly, that link from Highbrook interchange to Gt South Road you said you think will get removed – that is exactly through where that school that provoked last nights meeting is located. As Walden from AT said – we’re not gonna bulldoze through that part of town (yet).

  5. Can someone explain what the red sections and black sections of road shown on the maps are, along with the red “explosion” markers? Also, I get the impression that option 2 is regarded more favourably than option 3 or 4, but why is that? Is it purely about the route not cutting through the middle of Mangere housing? There still seem to be a lot of roads drawn across the map in option 2, along both edges of the edge of the harbour inlet, which doesn’t seem especially desirable to my untrained eye.

  6. I, too, am concerned that the next generation of roadbuilders will wheel out Option 4 or something similar again in 10 years time – got to keep the traffic flowing and all that. This is the second time a motorway through Otahuhu and bridge over the estuary has hit a brick wall and these chaps are nothing if not persistent.
    Hopefully this will have opened up a wider discussion about other, more people-friendly improvements that can be made to the network. As others have pointed out adding capacity to the rail network would seem an obvious place to start.
    On a more personal note, as someone whose house was in the path of Option 4 (and 1 and 2), a big thanks to the transport blog and associates etc for helping us bury this project, at least for the moment.

    1. “I, too, am concerned that the next generation of roadbuilders will wheel out Option 4 or something similar again in 10 years time”

      Agreed, but the world is slowly changing. I am reasonably optimistic that the case for new motorways and large arterials is significantly weakening, and the current freny in Auckland and NZ is a last ditch effort to shove as many through before the pendulum swings back. In 10 years, the case for more roads will be weaker, not stronger, so even a delay is a big win on its own.

    2. Given current trends in traffic volumes there is a possibilty that another ten years down the track the case for building more and bigger roads will simply fade away of it’s own accord.

  7. At least if they redo those roads there is scope for requiring separated cycle lanes and dedicated bus lanes. Onehunga is not great for cycling now through that corridor.

    What about shared bus/HGV lanes? I have no opinion but I am sure some of you hout there have good information and opinions.

    1. This engineering study suggests there are very few shared HGV / bus lanes in operation anywhere..

      That said, the geography along Neilson St and around the Penrose corner may be more amenable to this kind of treatment. Great material for a traffic engineer to model and maybe test out, do something innovative.

      The authors make an interesting suggestion about priority signals for trucks that may have merit.. though I’d prefer to see grade separation at the key intersections. Treated well, that could allow room for segregated cycles at some of the worst intersections that make the area so awful to ride through today. Truck lanes aren’t going to do that.

  8. Onehunga interchange is actually the big issue at the moment, Onehunga Harbour Road only one lane each, so traffic exiting motorway backs up and blocks northbound traffic on the harbour bridge itself. For a few million could easily add another northbound lane to Onehunga Harbour Road as far as Neilson St and would solve the problem for quite a few years. Similarly Neilson St not 4 land the whole way so finish that off.

  9. I would’ve loved a motorway between SH1 and SH20. It’d be cheaper to build and easier to use to get from points north to the airport than the tunnel being dug at the moment. Refusing to build roads is like refusing to buy larger clothes for a growing child “because the damn kid keeps growing into them”. I agree it’s best to include walking, cycling, and PT into a logical design… but don’t make the same mistake as the planners of the past (in mirror image) and exclude a mode because you don’t like it. Look at initiatives like Doyle Drive in San Francisco for how waterfront roads can be designed to allow for multiple modes and retained engagement between populations and their foreshore.

    1. Refusing to build roads isn’t like refusing to buy larger clothes for a growing child. It’s like refusing to buy larger clothes for a (horizontally) growing adult: assuming that the problem is that your pants aren’t big enough, rather than that there’s a problem with your diet.

  10. Matt, I think you should look at option 3 again. From what I see it will run through the clearway between industrial and residential and although houses will need to be removed to make way for this road (and create a new buffer) it will not be as drastic as through the centre of the Otahuhu residential area. I have not seen too many details on option 1 but I think option 3 will be the one that most likely gets the go ahead because it is least likely to face opposition – like it or not.

    1. Option three would remove quite a few homes from the northern side of Panama Rd, that buffer is in no way big enough for a road. Option 3 is also it involves new ramps onto SH1 so more houses again. If they are connecting to SH1 then the saving of a bridge across to Highbrook isn’t going to be that much, almost certainly would be worth the cost.

      Anyway we’ll wait and see.

      1. Yes we will, but with the government backing this project I do not see AT declining the support and turning the money away.

        I personally think that AT should be lobbied to include a rail provision into this proposal even if it is only to a future planned freight terminal in the East Tamaki/Highbrook area so freight could be directly moved to and from this large industrial area to the port facilities. This then could be used for rail to other Eastern areas in the future if needed.This may be the only way to get any PT value from a project that will have tons of government cash thrown at it?

  11. People’s power prevails over motorway madness.


    ROCC’s letter to the editor of the Manukau Courier. Published 23 January 2014

    Last week’s announcement that government planners have dropped their proposal to carve an East-West motorway through Mangere, Otahuhu and Wymondley, will be welcomed by all residents.

    The ‘Respect Our Community Campaign’ (ROCC) grew from a series of huge public meetings after the motorway options were first revealed in the Manukau Courier last September.

    This campaign gave a strong, united voice to the widespread community outrage against these destructive proposals that threatened hundreds of homes plus many schools, pre-schools, churches and medical centres.

    ROCC published two campaign newspapers that were letterboxed throughout the area by a vast army of volunteers. Our 4240-signature petition was tabled in parliament by Mangere MP Su’a William Sio in November. Follow-up petitions have since gathered nearly 2000 more names.

    Over 320 prominent community leaders also stepped forward to publicly oppose the motorway plans. (View our website for the full list:

    Faced with this massive, unprecedented community backlash, the planners have finally backed-down, and now say they will instead try to engage with the community to seek agreeable traffic solutions in the industrial belt north of Manukau harbour.

    ‘People’s power’ has forced this dramatic U-turn. The previous $2billion motorway options for south Auckland (that transport minister Gerry Brownlee and John Key had demanded be ‘fast-tracked’), has fallen from being a major ‘priority project’, to zero. Democracy and common sense have prevailed over ‘motorway madness.’

    ROCC thanks all those who came together to defend our community, especially our MPs, Local Boards, MANA Movement and Green Party members, schools and residents. ROCC will continue to promote sensible mobility solutions that enhance, and not destroy, our community.

    Roger Fowler,
    Respect Our Community Campaign (ROCC)
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