For the second time in less than a month Auckland Transport have been able to surprise and delight us with fantastic news. The first was the announcement they are seriously looking at light rail for the isthmus and now the wonderful news that they’ve killed the Reeves Rd Flyover. Not only that, they are putting the $170 million they save by not building the flyover into getting the AMETI busway built sooner plus are looking at putting bus lanes up Pakuranga as far as Highland Park.

reeves-rd-flyover

Major new public transport improvements will arrive earlier for people in Auckland’s south east.

Auckland Transport is aiming to open the full Southeastern Busway to Botany sooner than the 2028 completion date proposed earlier AT is also investigating extending bus lanes to Highland Park.

Recent work on the Auckland Manukau Transport Initiative (AMETI) has identified that the busway can operate through Pakuranga town centre without the need to build Reeves Road flyover first.

This allows funding to be used to deliver more public transport improvements sooner by deferring the $170 million flyover until next decade. Targeted traffic improvements will also be made to relieve congestion at the intersections of Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Road and Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Highway.

Auckland Transport AMETI Programme Director Peter King says the change means better transport choices for people in the area sooner and supports the roll out of the new public transport network in 2016.

They say the project is deferred but I understand it’s effectively over and that is pretty much confirmed by the comments in the rest of the press release – which I’ll cover shortly. This is a great outcome and we’ve suggested it a number of times, especially when talking about the how we can cut unnecessary costs from the transport budget. A few of the reasons why it’s good include:

  • It means there’s no longer going to be a hulking flyover cutting a swathe through the town centre, an area ripe for intensification – including some decent zoning provided for in the Unitary Plan.
  • Saving $170 million is a huge boost when the cities budgets are already tight.
  • Getting the busway sooner means the benefits from it start to flow sooner and these are likely to be huge. This is especially important in East Auckland which has the worst PT in Auckland and consequently the lowest PT use.
  • AT are now looking at including bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd as far as Highland Park providing even more benefits to PT in the area.
  • Along with the busway, AT’s plans also include high quality cycle lanes which will also be completed sooner.

Reeves Rd Flyover

I been told in the past the key driver was for the flyover was so that buses didn’t get held up at the large intersection of Te Rakau Dr/Pakuranga Highway/Reeves Rd. This location was also where they planned to move the busway from the side of the road to the centre of it. To address the intersection this AT say they are looking at a potential change or route through the Pakuranga Town Centre which would allow buses to bypass that intersection entirely. With buses no longer affected by the intersection the need for the flyover disappeared. I wonder if it means it will also help save some of the homes on and around William Roberts Rd. I think a potentially slightly longer journey for buses through or around the back of the Pakuranga Town Centre is probably a reasonable compromise if it means we don’t have to build the flyover.

Reeves Rd Flyover - Pakuranga Rd end

Some of the other justifications for the change in approach are also particularly telling:

“The recent decision on the Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington shows the challenges of consenting a flyover that has impacts on an urban area and the potential for long delays. This decision allows us to extend the AMETI transport improvements made in Panmure to Pakuranga and Botany as soon as possible while continuing to build the case for the flyover.

“Large numbers of passengers are expected to be attracted by quicker, frequent and more reliable bus journeys on lanes separate to traffic. About 7.4 million trips a year are expected on the busway.

“There are time savings from opening the busway between Panmure and Pakuranga, however they are much greater when the full busway to Botany is open. For example catching the bus and train between Botany and Britomart will take 38 minutes, 17 minutes quicker.

“The change to timing reflects Auckland Transport’s prioritisation of rapid, high frequency public transport and will not require extra funding.”
Work to develop the flyover showed its congestion benefits would be limited until further significant investment along the South Eastern Highway. It also indicated a likely increase in costs with the need to create a quality urban environment beneath it.

So AT have learnt from the outcome of the Basin Reserve Flyover which is great to see and it’s this reason why I suspect the project has actually been killed rather than just deferred. I think it’s also telling that they note the flyover would have just shifted the congestion further along South Eastern Highway, a point that many projects seem to forget.

Ti Rakau Dr central busway

A few other thoughts have struck me about this decision

  • For years AT’s engineers have been saying that the flyover is the only solution but now they’ve found another way. Will the same thing happen with the St Lukes Pohutukawa?
  • AMETI started out life as a road fest designed to try and replicate as much of the Eastern Motorway proposal as possible. Over the years it’s slowly morphed into almost exclusively a PT project which is what was needed. I think AT deserves a lot of credit for this as it was only really once they came into existence that things really started changing. I suspect that 38 minutes from Botany to Britomart will be quite compelling, especially in the peak and that time could get faster still with the CRL which would see trains running at higher frequencies which means reduced transfer times.
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27 comments

  1. Great news, well done AT.

    So which road-fest is next on the list for reinvention? After St. Luke’s Pohutukawa disaster I vote for Lincoln Road up/downgrade. Another road widening dressed up as PT/cycling greenwash.

  2. This is fantastic and a real concrete [!] sign that AT are a reforming agency, changing plans in response to evidence and logic. In this case they are way ahead of the local board, local elected members, or local MPs who have hardly lead from front with calls for the addition of PT and Active modes to their area. Will they now get on board, or become an obstacle?

    As Matt mentioned this new age at AT would be complete if they were to show this kind leadership around the intersections on the Western Ring Route; the St Lukes Pohutukawa and cycling and walking plans at that intersection, the Te Atatu Bus Station, and others needed for a quality bus service out west. Is their failure to do so because of the demands or pace set by NZTA? Because with the above we can see the advantages of AT working through the needs and possibilities of a place and, with time, arriving at an optimal solution, making for more careful and intelligent use of ratepayers funds and leading to the city getting a better more lasting solution sooner.

    1. This kind of cost-effective and place-focussed behaviour from AT would not go amiss within the RLTP and LTP consultation that the Council is currently running. I re-read the consultation doc last night. Interesting how CRL is presented as “billions” but road projects as 2 or three slices of millions, although the totals are the similar. Easy to see a bit of subterfuge here. These line items need some Reeves Road process before we take them at face value.

      Reeves proves that AT has it in them to scale these heights.

      So. Mill Road. Penlink. Airport area projects. C’mon AT. Get cracking on reviewing what you can improve on these, both in cost and outcome.

  3. Thank god the Reeves Road flyover has been canned. Have always believed right from the get-go that it was a mistake to build and its rationale pointless. At last, some life at table number 7.

    Now for a similar about-turn at St Lukes to keep the Pohutukawa 6 and a drastic slim-down at the Lincoln Road tarfest.

  4. Does this also mean the second (duplicate) Tamaki River bridge crossing is also off the table too? Or has it now been moved down towards Highbrook to mesh better with East/West Highway plans NZTA have?

    That was another reason they said Reeves Road was needed – to funnel the 4 lanes of traffic in each direction onto SEART.

    Like to see the design of how buses will work around/with Pakuranga town Centre. Can’t envisage quite how it will work at the moment.

    Also need the second Panmure bridge for PT/walking/cycling built sooner than later to improve PT links with Panmure.

    1. Greg, re the link to Panmure – all the busway sections discussed in this article depend on that first new bridge duplication going ahead, or there will be no connection of the busway from Pakuranga to Panmure Train Station, which is the whole point.

      AT is intending to lodge for that design (Panmure to Pakuranga section) in April, as the linked AT presser says.

      1. A bridge from Queens Rd to Kerswill Place carrying cyclists, pedestrians and light rail would be a good place to spend the money saved on the Reeves Road flyover. Keeping the light rail on an overhead line through the Pakuranga mall area would also be logical and keep the light rail out of the road congestion.
        Light rail connection from Panmure to Howick, Botany and Manukau City Centre are logical, would be well utilised and are roughly in line with Len Brown’s light rail wish list. Lets get it started!

          1. No Lloyd is referring to the Light Rail idea that Brown suggested last year from Manukau to Panmure.

  5. Great news. Best thing I’ve heard in a long time out of AT in a wee while. The whole of the South-East is a planning disaster of monumental proportions. Tens of thousands of people plonked in all those new builds out there and nothing but roads, roads, and more roads to service them. Madness.

    The sooner they get that busway up and running, the better. Eventually I want to see a railway line down that way at some long distant point in the future.

    1. The old Auckland Council decided, as part of the Eastern Highway process, that rail to the Eastern Suburbs would not be required for another 50 years. Hopefully AT is re-examining this decision as part of their LRT investigations.

      1. Exactly. Once your filling 20 double decked buses at peak rail will start to look like a good idea. Definitely better to build the busway now in a way that is easy to upgrade

  6. Epiphany! Fantastic news.

    Now we need the same mindset-shift in Wellington (where the proposed flyover is not yet dead!)

    And Christchurch.

    And everywhere else.

    1. It was never about saving the town centre – just about keeping the long-distance car traffic flowing between Howick-way and the Isthmus – and about the (perceived) impossibility of improving PT without first improving roads.

      Congrats to AT for figuring out that shifting people from cars to PT is possible without making it easier to use cars 😉

  7. This is real good. AT have figured out that you do the public transport stuff first then see if you can justify the road widening, not the other way around.

    1. exactly right – for too long Auckland has done it the other way around. Finally things are changing are we’re realising that (to be a successful city) we need to get the quality PT established first, and then assess how (if) residual congestion warrants further investment.

  8. As opposed to the pocket marxists above I actually live in Pakuranga and I use Pakuranga Road twice a day. Not building the Reeves Road flyover will choke this part of Auckland completely in the mornings and afternoons.

    For some reason the soviet central planners within AT have decided that the residents in my area need to be forced out of their private vehicles and into public transport and the way to do this is to make already congested roads more congested. How? By giving over existing lanes to exclusive bus use. The un-enlightened masses, deprived of their right of free movement through this cunning manipulation of spending priorities, will be forced into the cattle wagons thoughtfully provided by the AT politburo.

    AT are cynically creating a nightmare traffic scenario in this area for their own purposes. I have to say that they will not succeed. The flyover will be built and it will be welcomed by the residents in this area. This area is not central Wellington or Auckland. We do not have the luxury of being able to walk to work. Howick and Pakuranga are dormitory suburbs and the residents travel to points all over the greater Auckland area to work. Very few work in the central city. One size does not fit all and strangling private transport in the east will not achieve any kind of positive outcome for the residents or for AT.

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