While it emerged the other day that AT are looking to cut back on rail to the airport due to it’s cost, a day later they announce they are seeking a designation for a $300 million mini highway through currently rural south Auckland. The need for the road is claimed to be the huge amount of greenfield development expected to occur in the area in the next few decades.

A route has been identified for the upgrade of the Redoubt and Mill Road corridor, which is needed to support large housing growth in the area.

Traffic is predicted to double on the route in 10 to 15 years due to the growth. More than 22,000 new homes are proposed for the area, about 10,000 are in special housing areas that are likely to be fast-tracked.

Auckland Transport has identified the route for the upgrade of the Redoubt Road-Mill Road corridor and applied to Auckland Council to designate land (Notices of Requirement) for the project.

The council is expected to publicly notify the Notices of Requirement (NoR) for the designation in early 2015, with a hearing before independent commissioners to follow.

Auckland Transport Project Director Theunis van Schalkwyk says the project is driven by significant growth planned for the area and to improve the roads’ poor safety record.

“Congestion is already affecting Redoubt Road and Mill Road. The large number of new houses leads to traffic doubling in 10 to 15 years, meaning the road won’t cope without a major upgrade.

“Between 2009 and 2013 there were 283 crashes, including four deaths, with a number of accident hotspots on curves and junctions. The upgrade will improve the alignment to the safety standard required on an arterial route.

“With growth happening quickly in the area we need to give certainty to both existing and future property owners what land is needed for the upgrade. New housing areas can then be built knowing where the transport infrastructure to support it will be.

Mr van Schalkwyk says a number of route options have been investigated, consulted upon and evaluated before the final route was confirmed, with an independent environmental assessment a key factor.

The assessment recommended a number of mitigation measures to minimise impacts.

The route includes 23m high viaducts at Puhinui Creek gully and a 17m high viaduct at South Mill Road gully above native bush to minimise impacts. The project also includes about 30,000 sqm of native planting, stream restoration, wetlands created, pest eradication and environmental monitoring during and after construction.

Auckland Transport has contacted affected property owners directly about the project and is meeting with them to discuss their land owner rights and the planning process. The upgrade will need future purchase of 54 full properties and 257 partial properties, for example part of a driveway or frontages.

Project features

  • Redoubt Road widened to two lanes in each direction between State Highway One and Murphys Road
  • Westbound bus lane along Hollyford Drive and Redoubt Road towards Manukau.
  • On road cycle lanes on both sides and an off road cycle and foot path for the length of the upgrade.
  • Replacement of the existing Mill Road with a new arterial with two lanes in each direction between Murphys Road and Popes Road.
  • Murphys Road widened to two lanes in each direction between Flat Bush School Road and Redoubt Road.
  • Murphys/Redoubt Road intersection realigned and traffic lights added to improve safety.
  • 17m and 23m high viaducts at Puhinui Creek gully and South Mill Road gully above native bush.
  • Widened footpaths on both sides of Redoubt, Mill and Murphys roads with pedestrian crossings at key intersections.
  • Replacement planting and stream restoration.
  • Improved stormwater facilities, including wetlands areas.
  • Landscaping of the new road corridor.

Here’s a video of the route.

This is a massive project that has an almost mini motorway feel to it and it highlights just how much greenfield growth is possibly going to occur in the area. We regularly get told by those pushing for more greenfield growth that developers cover the cost of new infrastructure however this project is a great example that this is simply incorrect. In reality they only pay for some localised infrastructure and it’s left to tax/ratepayers have to pick up the tab for mega projects like this.

On to the project itself and the designs they’ve come up with are hugely disappointing and show either AT, the designers or both are still stuck in a time warp. Despite the fact that they’re basically building a brand new road, facilities for those not in a car are extremely substandard. For example to cater for walking and cycling it is proposed to build both on road cycle lanes that vary in width between 1.5 and 2m, and a shared path. Instead AT should be moving straight to proper protected cycle lanes with the footpaths left to those walking. Of course the biggest problem with that is it would mean they might have to cut into the 3m of space being set aside for a median and hell would have to freeze over before they even considered such a change. Making the cycle lanes sage is going to be really important as this mini motorway looks like it’s only going to encourage people to speed.

Here’s a few examples of what they’re proposing for the road (click to enlarge).

Redoubt Rd/Murphys Rd Intersection

Mill Rd - Murpheys Rd intersection

As you can see massive 4 lane road proposed which splays out to even more lanes at the intersection of Murphys Rd.

Mill Rd/Alfriston Rd

Mill Rd - Mill Rd, Alfriston

A big multi-lane roundabout, ugh. That won’t be fun for people in a car or on a bike.

And some of the cross sections

Mill Rd - Cross sections

Overall this project seems like it’s straight out of the bad old days and was previously said to be needed to help ease pressure on the motorway. However now we know the government are about to widen the southern motorway in the area increasing its capacity which likely reduces the need for such a massive upgrade.

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  1. Takanini is a massive flood plain with peat soil that’s difficult to build on. If this project is about enabling Takanini’s growth then it’s vastly over scaled as I doubt most of that projected growth will ever happen.

    1. That’s not stopping them, have a look round the Porchester / Airfield Road area. Also the eastern papakura / Old Wairoa Road area is all coming soon and will link up + feed traffic to Mill Road.

      1. You mean like the “great new development” at Addison where you can see 2-3 year old brick houses with 1-2 cm wide cracks in the façade near the roof already?

  2. This project is a complete waste of money. Can it and shift the spend onto infrastructure with a far better ROI. Covering over the trench at Manurewa Station and building a mixed use development on top would be a much better use of taxpayer funds.

    1. Agree.. notwithstanding the drivers behind this particular project, which look dubious, there must be dozens of PT and cycling infrastructure projects with massively more attractive ROIs. Build them first!

  3. I don’t neccessarily have a problem with the building of a new road, I have a problem with a road pre-empting the anticipated growth. Surely a reasonable staged approach of fixes as demand requires would be better here?

    And also; the lack of amenity provided to anything other than cars here is absolutely ridiculous. They’re starting essentially from scratch – everyone has the ability to be catered to.

    1. Why aren’t AT and NZTA telling us what employment and patronage targets the roads in this area must meet before we fund this project so early?

  4. “The route includes 23m high viaducts at Puhinui Creek gully and a 17m high viaduct at South Mill Road gully above native bush to minimise impacts.”

    Compared to what? I think they need to look minimise up in the dictionary.

  5. If Auckland Transport are so concerned about future growth what about the 30,000 houses planned for Pukekohe!
    With more houses planned for Pukekohe than the 20,000 for Mill Road then the electrification is far more important.
    The electrification is cheaper at only $110,000ish, will service more households and keep more cars of the roads including people clogging up SH1 around Manukau which this stupid project is trying to achieve.
    AT really need to get there priorities right.

    1. I’m not sure, Adam, that AT understand the concept of priorities (plural).

      It’s my impression that they only have one priority ie. build as many roads as possible as soon as possible before we eventually get a government with enough sense to step in and put an end to this mono-modal folly.

  6. And yet AT never ever build public transport infrastructure to a new area in anticipation of demand, and rarely to an area where demand clearly exists already (ie Airport). Doubly frustrating.

  7. If the 22,000 homes need a special $300,000,000 road, shouldn’t each of the houses pay for it using a $13,636 special development contribution.

    As someone who has paid quite a bit for a townhouse in an mid-rise intensive development close to the central city and walking distance to work, I don’t see why I should subsidise people who choose to live in green fields developments. Perhaps if they had to pay actual infrastructure costs, it would be more affordable to actually create more intensive developments?

  8. There are some things that probably should be considered. Chapel Rd-on a route south from Botany Town Centre then going through Flat Bush Town Centre now called Ormiston Town Centre (in a step through the town centre main street )then back to Chapel Rd going up Hollyford Rd onto Redoubt Rd then west to the Manukau Train Station is planned to be high frequency bus link and a key public transport part servicing this area and would be good to getting something better up and running from when this town centre opens. In saying that we havn’t even re-prioritsied our existing roading network for buses citywide across Auckland yet where we do already have road width and could do something now so I take that back.
    After seeing separated cycle lanes they are fantastic agreed. A notice of Requirement is important but I agree reprioritising and focus on rapid transit should be a priority with regard to spending.They have reduced the speed to 60kph on the worst out of spec part-has this helped reduce crashes?

  9. How far would that $300,000,000 (when you write all the zeros it looks much worse) go towards continuing the heavy rail from Manukau out into this area? Or alternatively, light rail/busway to Manukau station?

    The new Panmure station has shown that people will transfer to rail if they have a good connection.

    Plus really good quality separated cycle lanes all the way to Manukau station.

    Why is AT still stuck in 1960? It is just so frustrating that they are looking at such antiquated systems for “improving” transport. Will this traffic disappear when it reaches the already busy SH1?

    I also agree Adam W above that Pukekohe electrification is much more important and for a fraction of the money.

    Why is such an expensive project just rubber stamped when cheaper PT/cycling projects are a massive struggle? When will evidence and economic benefit start being used to assess roading projects instead of political ideology?

  10. As the majority of this road seems to be on a new alignment, i don’t see a problem with the designation.

    If it is designated, it can be built for public transport purposes later, it doesn’t specifically need to be a road.

    I’d expect a fairly solid business case to be presented, prior to the commencement of work, balanced against other priorities. (I re-read this and thought i must believe in fairy tales.)

  11. Whats this crap from AC/AT about we have do this because of fast tracking” 10,000 of the expected 22,000 houses there because they’re in a SHA.

    All that a SHA really does is allow the Proposed Unitary Plan rules to take effect the moment the SHA is declared instead of in 2016 as planned and neighbours have no rights to object to consents that fall within the PUP rules.

    Based on the current rate of progress of the developers, those 10,000 houses won’t be built there for at least 10 years, and the PUP will be the UP long before then. So why the rush/

    There is plenty of time to put the roading network in and while the NOR process should go ahead, the actual purchasing other than of the directly properties can easily be deferred, once the NOR goes on the land, its worth less, so the rate of “inflation” of those NOR affected (and adjacent) properties is going to be lower than the rest of the area so its not like the price AC end up paying will go through the roof, so time is on AC’s side here.

    And in any case, if you build the road, the developers will intensify, if you don’t build a road they won’t. So council can control the taps very easily by where and when they build the road.

  12. Easy. They should delay consideration of this project until 2020, unless traffic volumes double in the meantime.

    Isn’t that supposed to be the formula for reality-checking mega-projects such as this?

    1. Instead of an increase in jobs, is it an increase in dwellings or residents we’re looking for as a second part of the equation to trigger the “investment” ?

  13. The other thing is, it’s not just a one-off waste of money. If it were just overbuilding a rural expressway, that’d be bad enough, but this is a permanent screw-up. This road isn’t just to a future urban area – it’s in a future urban area (and indeed, in an existing urban area on Redoubt Rd).

    Once we’ve built these roads, they will stay as they are for at least a few decades, during the formative years when the city grows up around them. And you end up with another badly connected suburb with everything set back and the side streets disconnected from the main road. Bingo, one more suburb that’s forever geometrically impossible to serve with effective public transport.

    We’ve been through the democratic part of the Unitary Plan process, and the results are clear: Auckland’s going to grow out, at least as much as up. Maybe it’s time to recognise that, and start planning greenfield developments that we won’t regret in twenty years (or hell, on the day they open). Which means planning – not building it yet, but just planning – where the rapid transit is going to go, and how we’re going to build the development around it. And building roads that are going to be a part of the suburbs we want, not a rural expressway that won’t be rural for very long.

  14. I would suggest any intersection design requiring cyclists to cross 4 lanes of traffic to go straight or 8 lanes of traffic to turn right is not a great design!

    And this on a school route, madness!

    If enough traffic uses Mill Rd/Alfriston Rd to require 4 lane roundabout then this should be signalized intersection.

    But then i guess that might cause a small delay for motorists and we couldn’t have that.

  15. I’ve heard it said that Ardmore is New Zealand’s second busiest airport. Admittedly they are mostly small planes but even so I wonder if anyone considers that building residential areas ever closer to an airfield boundary is the best idea in the long term.

    I foresee a time when increasing noise complaints will impel local councils to impose restrictions on airfield operations. I think the airport owners need to start worrying about their futures.

    1. I can only assume you are joking Kelvin. I am sure you know the answer to that.

      To be fair, there are cycle lanes, but they are just paint. Why not fully separated cycle lanes like on Beach Road? The additional cost to do that at the time of construction must be close to zero.

      A fully separated busway should also be a no brainer with the car travel area reduced to one lane. Than maybe this project would be worth doing.

    1. Apt. My take, on your Flintstones theme:

      Mill Road, its a millstone
      Its a stone-age monstrosity
      Designed by some hicks in Hamilton
      Its a page right out of history

      Lets drive with our family down the street
      Built without thought for those who use their feet

      When you’re driving along Mill Road
      You’ll see a totally congested wasteland
      A total wasteland
      On which, you’ll waste your time

    1. But should the work to place the designation be called off due to their being other transport projects proposed for the area creating too much uncertainty? Sh1 widening etc. Why waste money and time choosing a designation that might no longer be appropriate?

      1. And it also begs the question of why so much was spent on detailed design and a fancy fly through video- a lot of bother and work for something that’s not immanent.

        Reserving right-of-ways is indeed sensible and was exactly what didn’t happen for any Rapid Transit in the previous sprawl areas like Pakuranga and look at the mess there now. But how come we haven’t, and still aren’t reserving the logical corridor through Mangere and to the Airport?

        AT still have it backwards; planning ahead for sprawl inducing semi-motorways, and fumbling the urgent need to protect the routes for the missing Rapid Transit Network.

        1. If this is reserving the route corridor width; then it needs to take account of the needs of the expanded communities on either side that the route will bisect and it doesn’t seem to do that. The round about does not seem to have pedestrian crossings designated and by the time it is built there will definitely be the need for allowing the pedestrian and cyclist to move through them as well as cars and trucks.
          We have previously criticized the designating of SHA’s that are not being considered in the planning of the busways infrastructure (Albany and the Northern busway) and the Northern motorway junction.
          Mill road is not a nice road to cycle on with the drains being where you head when the close calls come so the sooner that there is provision on it for the cyclist the better. While this remains farm land both sides then it’s not so bad if we could just have a wider shoulder thank you.

  16. Oh look. Shared paths and non separated cycle paths. FFS Auckland Transport. Please send someone to a David Hembrow study tour in the Netherlands. Please.

  17. Just thinking outloud looking at corridor widths. What is an alternative more sustainable/future-proof configuration. Needed for a seperate-central two way bus-way-8m (4 x 2). Separated two way cycleway-4m (2 x 2) .2 lane road-6.5m (2 x 3.25) .Footpath both sides 4m (2.0 x 2). Berm area 5m ( 2.5 x 2 ) both sides-lighting/trees.27.5m. Hollyford (effectively Hilltop by time intersection etc) to Manukau Station-needs widening in places on Redoubt Rd (currently down to 3 lanes no cycleway) and the highest priority (in terms of this project) as is or was supposed to be a high frequency bus link picking up Ormiston/Flat Bush and Botany Town Centre to Train Station. Plan that width only the rest of the way on the best alignment.

  18. They just built a roundabout at the intersection of Mill & Alfriston Rd outside the school. What a waste of money that was, and once again poor planning. Those plans must be old, because the new roundabout isn’t even in them.

  19. I live around Alfriston and just by watching the video produced by AT you know what’s being proposed is absolute rubbish and a waste of money. How many times did AT try a sweeten the project by highlighting what AT regards as ‘cycling infrastructure’ and improving public transport.

    I acknowledge that there are traffic problems but so does the rest of Auckland, adding extra lanes and building more roads to try an ease congestion is just like loosening your belt and trying to lose weight.

    If you really want to accommodate for the people living around the proposed areas then give us more options. Give us better public transport, better cycling connections and infrastructure and a better city.

  20. The only segment of the community that benefits by this over-engineered monstrosity of a road are the infrastructure toadies hanging from the AT nipple. The so called viaducts that will span the old growth forest tracts are merely glorified culverts which will cut through the tree-tops and displace thousands of square meters of forest by overfill and abutments. Why bother about old-growth forest? Because they are not making anymore and indeed cannot in the region of Totara Park and South Auckland in general. There is, practically speaking, no mature bush between the West slopes of Totara Park and the Auckland Harbor Bridge.

  21. AT trumpets that they will compensate for their depredation of bush with this road through the remnants of vegetation in the Rideoubt environs by offset planting (ie teatree/coprosma and some flax). But this will not work because the water-table has already been destroyed in these hills resulting from bush clearance. Witness the 98% mortality of two massive implants of Kauri into the lower reaches of Totara Park over the droughts of the last two summers. Some of these trees had reached heights of around 25-30 feet before the water-table slumped further and killed them stone-dead. Wait for it…. AT will monitor the demise of their offset plantings…. Added to that one may note the pathetic state of vegetation development along the motorway established when I was a callow student some 60 odd years ago. Nothing will grow properly: too much in the way of fumes too little in the way of available water. Scrub is all we have there after around 2/3 of a centaury and all we ever will have until the end of time. Scrub and a bunch of quick-grow good for particle board exotics – nothing that is anything at all really.

  22. Creating a so called ‘arterial road’ of more than motorway proportions through what they say is planned development land for residential housing is complete madness. To wipe out hundreds year old bush stands (or ‘cap-viaduct’ and kill them) that is totally unbelievable – is this the proud ‘Clean and Green’ country we are led to believe??

    If you build houses as there are so many needed according to the politicians of this country, should they not be put where there is employment and public transport and adequate roading?
    Putting roads in ‘in hindsight’ or to make up for the lack of planning at the cost of hundreds of existing houses, not to mention the enjoyment of life for all the occupants and owners, sounds like something out of a bad taste big brother dynasty.
    And that is just the ‘beginning’, this monster road will soon be on the way to do the same to you (in Alfriston, Papakura, Ramarama, Drury, Pukekohe….)

    If AT and the NZ Government have +400 Million to waste on just the 1st part of destroying existing communities to make a grand stand for their legacy, should these funds not be first applied to :

    1) Fix the existing motorway (not just at Takanini and Drury but all the way into the city)
    2) Create public transport (see the Transport Blog design) that can be used by ALL of Auckland, not just the central city or immediate suburbs.
    3) Have a reliable fast speed connection of safe and international standard trains between the Airport and the City Centre.

  23. A $300 million subsidy for the developers and spec builders so that they can make a killing from the Greenfield site that will be opened up by this new highway? Why should the public have to pay for this? Talk about a recipe for disaster. Presumably the planners think that all these new Papakura residents will be working in the inner city. What idiocy.Widening the Southern Motorway will be a complete waste of money if hundreds of more commuters are to dumped into it at the Wiri interchange choking choking the Southern motorway, turning a 40minute commute into a two hour marathon.

    If we have such eye watering amounts of public money to thoughtlessly toss around, for the benefit of private developers, why not invest it in creating jobs in this area for the 22,000 extra families that they say they doing this for, so that they don’t have to commute to the city every day?

  24. I think most people are ignorant about what their actually trying to achieve…
    They did an absolute FANTASTIC JOB with the Manukau/Western motorway.
    It will help congestion, as well as all the trucks I’ve seen hauling there loads to get to the on ramp.
    A lot of comments seem selfish, and only raise “their own” point.

    This development affect my property directly… and I’m all for it!
    I’d rather my tax dollars go towards a public project that EVERYONE can use, instead of handing out social welfare to those who abuse it.

    1. Dear John

      What AT is saying is only 1/10th of the story…. they are omitting to mention that this whole project will run from the motorway at Redoubt Road, cut through houses and bush all the way down mill road, then to on to Drury at a cost of 820 MILLION as at now!!

      Don’t believe a word AT would like you to believe, it is part of their devide and conquer tactic – the real cost will be a massive loss of houses and biodiversity including irreplaceble old native bush stands and over hundred year old trees that form the backbone of the Ridge.

      Whether you would like to call this progress or not is very debatable – AT gets their funding half from Auckland rate payers and half from NZ tax payers so we get to pay plenty of this but so do many people who never even visit Auckland.

      All this while there are alternatives available – see the Gen Zero Alternative Transport plan that would make public transport available to everyone in Auckland rather than a few, and at a substantially lower cost than Auckland’s long term transport plan which would see you all pay more rates and motorway tolls!

      This hideous upgrade/new expressway is not needed, nor wanted, improvements to the road to increase safety can easily be added without bowling down untold houses and bush – no one stands in the way for housing for those in need, but not at the cost of hundreds of existing houses and communities, precious bush and biodiversity!

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