In the third in my series of posts wrapping up the year I will look at what’s happened with roads this year.

Roads of National Significance

The RoNS have continued as they did last year with one notable exception.

Western Ring Route

The Western Ring Route works are in full flight now as will be evidenced to anyone who drives along SH16 with roadworks in place from east of Western Springs all the way through Northwest of Lincoln Rd from 5 separate projects.

  • St Lukes Interchange
  • Waterview Connection
  • Causeway upgrade
  • Te Atatu Interchange
  • Lincoln Rd Interchange

The TBM working on the Waterview connection has broken through with the first tunnel and in December made a start on the second one. At the same time the most visible part of the project has been the large yellow gantry has been building towering ramps that will connect the tunnels to SH16 in each direction.

Over the next year we should finally see the Lincoln Rd section completed and I imagine significant progress on the other projects – although they are still a few years from completion.

Puhoi to Wellsford

In 2014 the NZTA were issued with consent to build the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway – a road even the NZTA’s analysis says is only really busy during holiday periods. Amazingly we’re still yet to see any real economic analysis for the project which is likely because it’s terrible based on the work we saw before the government named it a priority. The government of course continue to claim it’s all about the economic development of Northland despite the existing toll road – which saved more time than this motorway will – not making any difference.

Confirmed route

Over 2015 we’re likely to see the NZTA working towards a PPP to get this project built however it’s not likely we’ll see any construction start.

Basin Reserve Flyover

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2014 was the Board of Inquiry declining the NZTA’s application to build a flyover around the edge of the Basin Reserve. In the end the commissioners hearing the case concluded the impact on the local community from having a massive flyover was just too much after it was able to be shown that most of the benefits the NZTA claimed the road would provide were actually attributable to other projects.  The decision was embarrassing for the NZTA and the government seeing as it was using the governments new fast track process which means the decision can only be appealed on points of law – which the NZTA are doing.

Basin Bridge Image 1

I’m not aware if a date has yet been set for the appeal but it is likely to be later next year.

Transmission Gully

Also in Wellington, the first transport PPP was signed in July for the construction and operation of Transmission Gully, another project with a horrific business case. Initial works should have started by now however won’t really ramp up till next year. The PPP will see the NZTA paying $125 million a year for 25 years once the project has been completed. Unlike many PPPs that failed overseas, for the consortium building the road there is little risk as all the demand risk sits with the NZTA, in other words we pay providing the road is open – and if it is damaged from a something like an earthquake we have to pay at least some of the costs of that too.

Other RoNS

The other RoNS projects in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Christchurch have continued along. I’m not sure of the progress of all of them however the Tauranga Eastern Link is meant to be completed in 2015.

Auckland Motorway Projects

In 2013 the government announced a series of additional motorway projects for Auckland. The widening of the Northern Motorway between Upper Harbour and Greville Dr has just been completed and in November started consultation on ideas for further changes to that section including a motorway to motorway interchange between SH1 and SH18. Some of the ideas are absolutely massive in scale such as concept 3.

Northern Corridor Improvements Concept 3

Of the other projects, works to grade separate Kirkbride Rd moved ahead and earlier this month the NZTA announced the contract had been signed with construction starting in January

We haven’t heard much about the other accelerated project which will see the southern motorway from Manukau to Papakura widened but I would expect we will do in 2015.

In addition to the accelerated projects the NZTA has now made a start on widening SH1 Northbound between Ellerslie-Panmure Highway and Greenlane – a project that’s been on the cards for a while and for which the Ellerslie Station platform was narrowed a few years ago to accommodate.

Accelerated Regional Roads

In addition to the RoNS, and to shore up their support from some rural communities, this year the government announced a spend up of over $200 million on a number of regional state highway projects that can’t get funding due to it being sucked up by the RoNS. The Funding for these projects is coming from the proceeds of asset sales the government has undertaken. Some of the projects appear to be of low value however not all are.

Govt Accelerated Rural Road Package

AMETI

Auckland Transport started the year with the opening of the new Panmure station and in November they opened Te Horeta Rd which is the new road running alongside the rail line and Panmure station from Mt Wellington Highway to Morrin Rd.

East West Link Connections

In October both AT and the NZTA launched consultation on ideas for the East West Link after calling off a proposal for a motorway through Mangere right at the beginning of the year. They haven’t announced the results yet but I’m fairly certain either option C or D has been picked as the option they are proceeding with.

EW Option - Option D

Mill Rd

In November AT announced they have come up with a route for the Mill Rd corridor and will be working towards securing a designation for it. The most disappointing aspect for me about the project – other than some of the case for it has likely been destroyed by the fast tracking of the SH1 widening – is that even with a brand new corridor, AT are still designing a crap outcome with features like unprotected cycle lanes or shared paths and pedestrian/cycle unfriendly roundabouts.

We’re still driving less

One positive trend I have started to notice is our transport institutions are starting to take notice of is that we’re driving less. In the last few months in particular it’s started to be mentioned in publications such as the Briefing to the Incoming Minister and in research papers.

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What have I missed?

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8 comments

  1. The big disappointed about all these transport projects (roads and PT) is how neglected Canterbury is. Greater Christchurch is NZ second biggest city, there has been huge changes in traffic since the earthquakes, the region is growing faster than Wellington and about as fast as Auckland on a per capita basis. Congestion is now as bad if not worse than Auckland or Wellington.

    Yet Greater Christchurch has only about 30km of motorway, no major dedicated bus lanes and no passenger rail compared with Wellington that has 150km of passenger rail and 100km of motorway.

    What is this all about?

    If I had my way I would sack NZTA, prevent them from ever setting foot in Canterbury, keep all our fuel taxes and road user charges, get rid of the Wellington stooges from ECAN and elect some people who can provide a proper transport network.
    Auckland and NZ other regions should do the same.

  2. In Wellington, there has also been renewed efforts from NZTA to continue consultation and design works for the Petone to Grenada link (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/petone-grenada-link-road/index.html) which seems to me as an un-necessary road. There seems to be a reluctance to upgrade SH2 and the Haywards Hill road in order to build a whole new road which will suffer from several of the shortcomings of the Haywards and Ngauranga roads (steep sections with the possibility of only one lane each way in parts etc.). The chance that this road may be built is having downstream effects already with thoughts of rerouting part of the Transmission Gulley road or duplicating some of it to avoid a difficult merge at the Grenada end, putting several semi-rural/lifestyle properties in the firing line to lose land and/or access to local roads as well as affect some proposed housing developments in northern Newlands. The regional council has also bumped other roading projects up their priority list based on induced traffic expected from the road (notably a link from Seaview to Petone which is looking to replace a rail corridor with a road for part of its construction). It seems to me many of the benefits of the new road could be obtained by improving access to Ngauranga Gorge from SH2 southbound or removing traffic lights on SH2 northbound with off-ramps etc.

  3. What can I say still electing to build wasteful and transport stupid infrastructure. Working only on the interests of their building partners and the petroleum industry. That is corrupt isn’t it taking money for sole gain. In Auckland a 1 in 3 mode swing from car right now would save $1.25b per annum in congestion, untold emissions, and untold wasted time, plus also the unnecessary spend on asphalt for more car width , like these crap projects. Rail, bus carry heaps more passengers in the same width. Rapid transit growing at 18% , bus 8% (without trying), and car bugger all. So why the huge majority spend for car mode it is exponential craziness.

  4. Is it correct to call the Western Ring route improvements five separate projects? Perhaps we should start calling the City Rail Link five separate projects, cut & cover, tunnel, station, station, station.

    1. 5 projects – thats just the start, once WRR is completed then another 5-10 projects will be needed to mitigate all the induced traffic and other “unforseen” issues elsewhere on the roading network.

      The thing is with the motorway projects, they all add or improve connectivity 1 piece at a time e.g. widen this motorway here, tunnel from this point to this point.
      Add on and off ramps from SH16 west to SH20, add on and off ramps for SH20 to SH16 east. The list never ends.

      So it allows staging of the build out, not a big bang approach as CRL proposes.
      For the Harbour bridge, it too was a series of projects – the main being the bridge itself, but the northern approachway widening, the southern approachway, the Grafton Viaduct, the link to SH1 under K’Rd these were all technically part of the original bridge “design” just slotted in later. And lastly don’t forget the clipons.

      For CRL, we’d need to sell the tunnel as one “harbour bridge” type project, then the each stations fitout/opening as a new project (CRL: enhancement, phase 2, 3 4 etc), so yes, tunnel CRL first to run the trains through, then fit out each station around the CRL.

      That way a 2.4B project becomes 4 separate “$700 million projects” or $2.8B once finished, but as each is under $1B who will notice?

      This way the benefits of CRL are unlocked sooner – just like how NZTA sells motorway projects. Of course it all costs more and takes longer to complete. But it is fighting fire with fire.

      And to be honest building the CRL tunnel alone will be able to deliver a lot of benefits and remove the Britomart station bottleneck in one fell swoop – even if the other stations are not built/upgraded at the same time..

    2. Didn’t someone tweet a picture of the East West whatever they call it now links “chosen” option in early December, but it was stamped with “embargoed” until sometime in late January 2015?

      They said it was in some council documents on the councils/ATs website (so is obviously already chosen just not announced) – I’m pretty sure it was either option C or D too.

      I’m sure all those folks down Panama Road will be relieved to hear that.

  5. I didn’t see the bike lane being shown in the re-imagined SH20a project and the graphic looked reasonably advanced beyond a simple concept. I ride it regularly (training/recreational use) and if a proper bike facility existed at the airport, I would ride my bike there for short air trips i.e. one day business travel etc. Has it been deleted from the project or omitted from the graphics?

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