A few weeks ago we learned that an extension to the Northern Busway was back on the cards following the last round of consultation on what the NZTA call the Northern Corridor Improvements Project. This main part of this project involves turning the section of SH18 east of Albany Highway into a full motorway and giving it a motorway to motorway connection to SH1 plus upgrading the Greville Rd interchange. Extending the busway is critically important and I hope it could be built at least at the same time as the other works, if not in advance of them. What I wanted to look at with this post are some of the other changes proposed.

The first thing that strikes me is that if the NZTA and AT actually built all of the components mentioned at about the same time then this project could actually end up being one of the more multi-modal projects in Auckland. This is significant as many projects claim to be multi-modal but most just put token efforts into improving the situation for PT and active modes.

The key part of the project will be the motorway works which will be the upgrading to SH18 and the interchange however as you can also see it involves adding extra lanes to this section of motorway pushing it to four way. Overall it seems like they’ve gone with concept 2 which is a vast improvement from concepts 3 and 4 which were shown back in November. For the busway they went with concept 1 of keeping it on the eastern side and only crossing over at McClymonts Rd. Given that they appear to be thinking of building a dedicated on-ramp from Albany Highway I thought they might have integrated the busway with that to get it to the Western side.

Northern Corridor - July Design

How the NZTA deal with the local roads in the area such as Paul Matthews Rd is still under consideration. They say there are two general options, a bridge with an underpass or an underpass with intersections. These are best shown in the image below.

Northern Corridor - July Design Local Road Conections

I like how they make the motorway to motorway ramps look small when in reality they’ll look a lot more like the monstrosities at Waterview towering over the local community. It will be interesting to see how the local community from about this.

Waterview Ramps - 3

Along with the busway extension one new feature that hasn’t been talked about much is the proposed walking and cycling which will go alongside the the busway.  The NZTA are also looking at a cycleway along SH18 at least as far as Albany Highway and CAA say that this is shown as a dotted line as it is currently falls outside the existing road designations. I also like that they highlight the plans for the rest of the local network although some of the “existing facilities” are probably a bit of a joke given what we’ve built in the past.

Given the NZTA say they are looking at is the potential for a new busway station in the Rosedale/Lower Albany area, some more improvements to the cycle facilities on surrounding roads such as Rosedale Rd could make this a popular station to bike to.

Northern Corridor - July Walking and Cycling

The NZTA are consulting the public on their latest set of plans and the first event is tomorrow. The dates and times are below.

  • Westfield Albany – Sat 5 Sept and Sun 6 Sept, centre court location, all day
  • Local businesses’ coffee drop in session – Tues 8 Sept, 7.30-8.30am, Café Noir, 7A Triton Drive, Rosedale
  • Local businesses’ coffee drop in session – Weds 9 Sept, 7.30-8.30am, North Shore Cosmopolitan Club, 65 Paul Matthews Road, Albany
  • Unsworth Heights community event – Fri 11 Sept, 2pm-6pm, Meadowood Community Centre, 55 Meadowood Drive.
  • North Harbour Business Association Expo – Thurs 17 Sept, QBE Stadium (stand 80)

Feedback this round of consultation closes on Friday 18 September.

Below is a different look at the busway extension. One area to submit on will be to push for this and the walking & cycling path to be completed ahead of the motorway works. That would then give people from north of Constellation an option to avoid any motorway congestion as a result of widening and interchange works while benefiting those already using the bus with a faster and more reliable journey.Northern Corridor - July Busway Extension

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22 comments

  1. Why The connection to hwy 1 only to and from the north?
    If they going to have only 2 direct connections
    Why not keep them on the north bound side of hwy 1, so there is no large bridges over hwy1.
    Also in reality the busway needs to pass under constellation drive and the bus station needs to be underground.

    1. They are doing it only from the North as a cost-saving measure for now but also because the whole purpose for this road was to be the Western Ring Route to bypass Auckland for those not actually going to Auckland.
      I don’t see what you are saying about not having large bridges over SH1? Yes they are linking the Albany Expressway to SH18 but most of this project is about connecting SH1 to SH18.
      Why would the busway need to be an under pass under Constellation?? The current bus station is a good 20m vertically higher than Constellation so any underpass would need to have a 25m+ drop in elevation for no apparent reason? Eventually when the busway is converted to rail the trains would also not handle that sudden drop in elevation. As it is they will likely have to tunnel through the hill underneath Sunset Road so lowering that a further 25m just adds to the cost there too.

      I agree that the busway should be built in advance of the upgrade as motorway works in NZ invariably cause a lot of unnecessary disruption (particularly to buses using the shoulders as they tend to close these for hundreds of metres when a much smaller distance is needed).

      Not sure about getting the busway over to Albany… I guess it depends on what they plan on doing with it from Albany up towards Silverdale. If that is going on the Western side then sure thing, but if it is running on the Eastern side then probably makes more sense to just have 1 bridge across the motorway where the vintage car club buildings are (also a consideration for rail would need to be made in which case crossing over at Greville might make sense as the train would probably run in a tunnel/trench from Greville to Albany).

    2. Because they want to fix a half arsed job with another half arsed job. It is the off ramp from the south that causes the most problems here but fixing that might help Auckland. Instead they have it in their thick heads that state highways are for traffic passing through Auckland even though that is probably less that 2000 vehicles per day.

      1. I think you are confused about what NZTAs job is.

        The flow on state highways is super high priority. Actual journey time end to end, or flow on local roads and on/off ramps is of no priority.

        The off ramp from the south doesn’t need any fixing, because any problems that it does cause are of no priority.

  2. Call me slow but, I’ve finally clicked. It’s the new SH1! The Auckland bypass motorway. Those big connections going north only and the big connections only going south at the other end of 18…

    1. This was supposed to be SH1 even before the Auckland Harbour Bridge. And once upgraded, it will be another nail in the coffin for any BCR on another road crossing over the Waitemata. Sadly that doesn’t equal that project being killed off. To our current govt it’s only more money after all.

        1. No, it’s not. Mike Lee did an editorial on this about a year or two back. The main northern route was intended to go via Greenhithe. But then they decided they wanted a Harbour Bridge, and to make sure it got all the strongest backing, and the case stacked up better, they re-routed the main link / motorway through downtown Auckland, bulldozing half of Freemans Bay and over numerous of our city and Shore beaches.

          Not “rough” at all, except for our city, or course.

          1. That went straight over your head didn’t it Damien. Never mind, I’ll try to be a bit more obvious next time.

          2. Actually it was slightly different, the main highway north was to cross to Paremoremo, not Greenhithe. But same concept, SH1 around the harbour via the Northwestern then tie into the the old north road via Albany hill.

            The harbour bridge was designed to be for connections between the north shore and central Auckland only (say the equivalent of Great North or Great South Rds, or Tamaki Dr), more of an arterial road than a through city strategic link.

          3. NZTA and the gov are obsessed with the idea of inter-regional road transport as the key justification for transport investment; this is a cornerstone of the RoNS model. This plays well with recreational drivers [driving to baches etc] and the strong bias towards supporting the resource extraction side of the economy [remember ‘sexy coal’ Jerry?]- stuff on trucks, not trains, to ports and airports.

            While Northland clearly has many a bach and other recreational destinations, particularly for Aucklanders, it just is not a huge player for freight. But also it is served by an expanding port and a [declining- by policy] railroad that also can take much of what business there is. Then there also the absurdity of sending any such traffic through the centre of our only city of scale; this fights with NZTA’s aim of reducing congestion. And now, and at great expense, there is a brand new high quality bypass is being built anyway which clearly reduces need to rely on this route for everything. Hence this intersection above.

  3. Matt building the Busway extension first is a genius idea. As it is seperate to the mway it could be built without causing disruption. Subsequently working on the mway proper would then be easier to achieve with all the buses out of the way, as well as giving people an optional way to avoid driving at least while the work is being done.

    Not to mention accelerating the time when even just the current bus users to and from Albany and beyond are able to travel Congestion Free. Core NZTA task.

    1. The busway extension first, should have been top priority from the start. as once this is in place it should help encourage more people to use the bus relieving congestion not only along this route but the entire northern motorway.

  4. Regarding the local community: I had owned a rental property near the northbound offramp from 2002, however when I read about this project I decided to sell up before too many other people heard about the project. I think that replacing lake views with views of towering ramps would have hurt the rental return I was getting.

    On the positive side, it might be a way that the government is helping make housing more “affordable” in that area – where undesirable equals affordable.

  5. I never got why they put the Albany Bus Station on the western side when all the other stations are on the eastern side of the mway. Why don’t they put it on the eastern side and then build a bridge over to the car park.

    1. Because Albany was (I guess still is, at least in the plans) to be a thriving local centre, with main streets close by to the bus station.

  6. I still feel the busway needs to be future proofed for rail, so this section of busway yet to be built should be rail ready. That includes back tracking a little bit and redoing the stretch under sunset rd.
    Even the new stations should be rail ready.
    So in 10 or 20 years time it won’t be so expensive.

  7. Is not the best busway transition from east to west is a tunnel under the hill between Greville and McClymonts? This would reduce the required gradient for the light/metro rail upon conversion.

  8. “Given that they appear to be thinking of building a dedicated on-ramp from Albany Highway I thought they might have integrated the busway with that to get it to the Western side.” Good idea. We should all make submissions and push for that big Albany highway bridge to be widened so the busway can share it and get to the western side of the motorway where it can continue to Albany

    1. In that case they should build a temporary road (to last 10-20 years so not too temporary) from there to the bus station. When rail comes it will need to be through rather than over that hill…. Or just dig it out now cut n cover style and sell the land above for commercial to pay for it.

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