In the May budget the Government announced they would fastrack yet another $800 million of motorway projects, partially financed by a $375 million loan. These were projects that had been identified in the Prime Minister’s Auckland speech in 2013. There were 3 main projects as outlined below.


Two of these projects have major potential to impact on 2 key elements of the Congestion Free Network.

The first is the State Highway 20A upgrade, which involves extending the motorway about 2 extra kilometres towards the airport.

Airport Access Map

NZTA says the main features are:

Grade separation of SH20A and Kirkbride Rd intersection

Upgrading of SH20A to motorway standards: two lanes in each direction plus dedicated bus priority lanes

Reprioritisation of Ascot Rd / Kirkbride Rd intersection

Installation of truck priority lanes and ramp signalling

Relocation and integration of cycle lanes in local road network

Note there is no mention at all of rail to the airport, which would follow the motorway corridor from Onehunga most of the way to the airport. It is of upmost importance that a rail corridor is reserved by NZTA when they are planning and building the project. They have done this on the SH20 extensions through Mt Roskill, however there was a designation already in place so the situation is somewhat different. Auckland Transport has been investigating rapid transit along this route since 2011. Initially they said the route protection was to begin in late 2011, however 3 years later we have learned little. The latest we have is an April 2014 update which suggests that a preferred alignment will be identified in 2014. While the Airport’s Masterplan may be causing issues at the southern end of the route, work should still be moving ahead in the northern area. It is essential that NZTA and AT work together to speed up alignment identification in this area, something which has been highlighted by the Campaign for Better Transport. If the upgrade is built without an alignment for the rail corridor it will add huge extra cost to the airport rail project. For one thing all the new overbridges would have to be rebuilt, which would be a huge waste of money. Auckland Council need to send a strong message to the government that this would be unacceptable, and ensure the rail corridor is allowed for in the design.

The second project is the suite of Northern Corridor projects, which largely revolve around the State Highway 1 to State Highway 18 grade-separation and associated widening. In December 2013 NZTA claimed there were 5 main components to the Northern Corridor projects.

Northern Corridor Improvements

Component 1 is already under construction (costing $19.5 million). Component 2 seems to be the smart low-cost improvements. The announcement above seems to refer to Components 1 to 4, totally leaving out the much needed Northern Busway extension to Albany. Currently the Northern Express speeds the 15km from Britomart to Constellation Station in just over 20 minutes. However the last 4km to Albany can take 15 minutes as there is no bus priority. This busway extension is another project that NZTA and AT have been working on for years, and seems have got bogged down somehow. In 2011 NZTA were saying that the route needed to be designated soon due to the development taking place. Last year we found out a little more about the route investigations, which suggested it would cost $249 million.

planned SH1/SH18 motorway upgrade

The planned motorway interchange upgrade is quoted as costing an astonishing $450 million. For that cost the project is totally unnecessary for something that just replaces a few at grade intersections with ramps. The focus should be much more on cost-effective targeted upgrades, then we could have the busway extension to Albany and plenty of spare change. The result would be lots more people using the busway, and reduced traffic congestion along the entire Northern Motorway and CBD.

The third set of projects around the Southern Motorway don’t have any components of the Congestion Free Network linked with them. However the upgrades should be a good chance to make Great South Road better for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. The one positive of this project is this means the current expensive plans to turn Mill Road into a 4 lane highway should disappear, and be replaced by a much cheaper safety upgrade. This would be a great way to free up over $200 million to help with Auckland Transport’s stretched budget.

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  1. Even if I accepted the need for the SH1/SH18 interchange upgrade I still fail to see any reason for the overbridges linking southwards into the Northern Motorway. Long distance traffic which is already heading northwest on SH18 will (logically) be continuing northwards anyway. Local traffic for Glenfield and Wairau Valley is already provided for with the existing local roads.

    If someone was heading for areas futher south then why would they be driving northwest on SH18 in the first place?

    1. Gary this is exactly the same as at Waterview. I spoke to a highway engineer who said that there should only be northbound connections there from SH20. To him those south facing connections undermine 20/16/18 as a bypass system for SH1, risk flooding the already busy inner sections of SH16 and then the CMJ with sudden bursts of gridlocking traffic, and make all the intersections needlessly overcomplicated and expensive.

      I guess someone doesn’t really want to relive the existing route as a through town option? Probably would be too effective at taking pressure off the CMJ and the prospect of eyewateringly expensive works there and across the harbour….

      1. Who will use the southbound connection to the Northern? Greenhithe traffic for a start. Express buses from Westgate and Hobsonville should – in rush hour it is much faster via the SH1 busway than using SH16 (although SH16 is 7.5km shorter and 5 mins quicker off peak, at peak it is 55 mins SH16 vs 38 mins SH18/SH1).

        Perhaps the highway engineers who said we’d never need a connection from SH16 Kumeu to SH18 don’t want to get caught out again?

        As for the ugly SH20 to SH16 southbound connection, doesn’t that allow for traffic from the inner SW (Blockhouse Bay/Mt Roskill/Hillsborough) to access the city without clogging up Dom Rd?

        1. As is likely will incentivise more driving for those journeys, it will simply clog the inner SH16, the CMJ, and the city centre… multiple hundreds of millions to get people to drive and cause congestion. Congestion, which, matters in as much as holds up actually useful movements such as freight. Those volunteering to sit in their cars can do what they like.

    2. Perhaps you need to have a look at the interchange any weekday evening. The northbound offramp has a queue from the left turn lane (to SH18) that regularly extends back onto the motorway. The level of traffic from the Shore to West Auckland using this route has increased since the Hobsonville connection was finished. It was originally intended as a motorway to motorway connection just as Waterview is at SH16 but it got pushed out to the end of the project.

  2. Wow that SH18/SH1 interchange will be astonishingly ugly and for what real gain given the gigantic cost?

    Meanwhile Northern Express passengers will keep getting stuck in traffic at Constellation & Greville interchanges.

  3. The SH18 to SH1 connection is a bit more than a few ramps. The Upper Harbour Highway from SH1 to Albany Hwy was built by North Shore City to allow growth of the North Harbour and Upper Harbour areas. Transit NZ took it off NSCC after it was built using significant amounts of rates (together with the Central govt contribution available for road building at the time.) When Transit built the Greenhithe motorway they refused to look at the section of SH18 from Paul Matthews to SH1. Now they have to provide something that completes the WRR and provides for the local trips. $420 million? There is a good chance it will cost more but without it the WRR isnt going to do what it was intended to do.

      1. No that isn’t true. In the consultation for for the first part (Greenhithe to SH1) Transit said they would stop at Paul Matthews and look at the last bit later. They said the same thing at the NSCC hearing, they would extend a motorway link to SH1 later. This is the last bit because WRR was supposed to be a motorway and clearly this piece isn’t. To get the delay savings they wanted and allow the full diversion expected to WRR they need to upgrade this bottleneck. NSCC asked them to sort it out at the time but Transit NZ refused on the basis that it would do for the time being. Now its stuffed and Waterview isnt even open.

        1. You’re correct that projects through to Greenhithe and Upper Harbour Highway have been considered as part of the WRR project, and a motorway connection to the Northern would be an extension of that, but it isn’t part of what’s currently included in the WRR. The Waterview Connection completes a ring which includes the Southern Motorway, the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways. A motorway link from SH18 to SH1 creates another ring. In which case it should be “Western Rings Route”, plural.

            “What is the Western Ring Route?
            The completed Western Ring Route will be a 48 kilometre motorway alternative to SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge via SH20, SH16 and SH18. It will bypass the city to the west and link Manukau, Auckland, Waitakere, and North Shore cities.
            Improvements to existing interchanges will connect to new sections of motorway to create a single, seamless motorway between Redoubt Road in Manukau and Constellation Drive in Albany. Several new motorway links are already carrying traffic.”
            So Waterview doesn’t complete it as SH18 is not a motorway from Albany Highway to SH1. The ring concept always went from SH1 to SH1 via 16 and 18.

          2. It’s not hard to understand what a ‘ring route’ is, but triple stacked, Paraonic scaled, multiple hundred million dollar interchanges are not essential to its bypassing work.

            That’s an awful lot of our money just so no official is embarrassed when the inevitable induced traffic turns up and causes a short delay like what happened when 20 was connected to 1 at Manukau.

            800million; there’s your gov contribution to the CRL till 2020.

  4. The shelving of the ‘Component 5 – Northern Busway extension to Albany’, (if true) is perhaps an indication that the government feels less necessary to keep up the pretense that they also support public transport. It would be good to get confirmation on the status of this Busway extension proposal from some official source. The exclusion of funding for the Busway Extension appears to conflict with the following tweet –

    “On good roads you get better public transport, more efficient freight movement, faster journeys & safer trips for NZ families.” #TeamKey
    11:50 AM – 29 Jun 2014

  5. NZTA say they got funding only too ‘futureproof’ for the Busway. Apparently those artists at Treasury made that call.

    I have future proofed the air above my house for jet pack use, that is, it’s still there and airy. I am now fully multimodal.

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