If you live in the North West and were looking forward to the end of what has now been over five years of constant road works along the Northwestern Motorway – which started with Lincoln Rd back in October 2010 – then don’t get your hopes up for the disruption ending any time soon. The NZTA are now starting to once again talking about the section they’ve so far missed in their grand widening schemes – the bit between Lincoln Rd and Westgate. What’s more despite being silent on the project for so long they’re now talking about starting the $100+ million widening project in little over six months with work expected to take till 2019 to complete.

The NZTA say the project involves

  • Widening the motorway to create 3 lanes in both directions for motorists
  • Creating bus shoulder lanes next to the motorway in both directions
  • Extending the Northwestern Cycleway to create a 3-metre wide shared walking and cycling path from Lincoln Road to Westgate
  • Improving the Royal Road interchange and ramps. Replacing, raising and widening Royal Road Bridge, creating an on-road cycle lane, shared walking and cycling path, and new footpath
  • Replacing and raising Huruhuru Road Bridge
  • Extending the Lincoln Road on-ramp heading westbound and replacing one side of the bridge over Huruhuru Creek
  • New landscaping, urban design and lighting features
  • New wetlands to treat stormwater run-off
  • Improved safety barriers and new noise walls.

Lincoln Rd to Westgate Motorway Widening Map

I’m not necessarily opposed to the project as there are some useful aspects to it but it does seem to have the typical motorway building approach to it – that being to widen everything around this section thereby increasing the justification for to spend a heap of money ‘fixing’ on the newly created bottleneck.

Probably the most useful aspect of the project for me personally and one I’m very keen to see built is the cycleway. Normally cycleways alongside motorways aren’t great however in this situation the motorway has a shallower grade than the surrounding streets do so will be a welcome addition. That brings me to my first issue/concern. The map above shows the cycleway veering off with the motorway ramps to Makora Rd which is steep and quite narrow. As Royal Rd is on a ridgeline it means that diversion adds additional height for those on bikes (or walking) to deal with. I’d prefer to see the cycleway pass under the offramp and then stick to the level of the motorway – obviously with a connection to Royal Rd. The diversion also adds at least two sets of traffic lights that need to be negotiated.

Royal Rd over bridge

An issue perhaps even more important is the situation for buses. The NZTA are only building bus shoulder lanes in the project. While bus shoulder lanes are better than nothing it ignores that Auckland Transport want a full busway built on this section – although AT acknowledged in the West Auckland New Network consultation that bus shoulder lanes would go in first.

Busway schematic

What it all means is that AT will still have to build a busway separately at some point in the future at a much larger cost rather than the NZTA taking the One Network approach they love to talk about these days. It also highlights another inconsistency the NZTA run with. You may recall in the debate before the current works were started we and others called for a busway along SH16. At the time the NZTA hid behind the then Auckland Regional Council’s Regional Land Transport Strategy (RLTS) which only suggested bus lanes alongside the motorway. That’s not the same situation with this section though as the route from Lincoln Rd to Westgate and beyond were included as part of a possible future Rapid Transit route between Henderson and Constellation Drive.

One aspect I am a little surprised about is that the NZTA are only going to upgrade the interchange as it is and that they’re not going to add north facing ramps.

As part of this now rapidly approaching project the NZTA are going to hold a few open days – note: these aren’t consultation, more just “here’s what we’re building”.

Come along to one of our open days where you can learn more about the project and talk to the project team.
When: Saturday 14 November, 10am – 2pm
Tuesday 17 November, 4pm – 7pm
Where: Royal Road School Hall, 112 Royal Road, Massey

They say that in time for the open days, this day next they’ll update their website with designs and more information about the project.

Lastly while actual construction doesn’t start till next year the timeline the NZTA have put out suggests we’ll start seeing some physical works soon such as removing houses in the way of the widening.

Lincoln Rd to Westgate timing

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  1. Yeah, when CAA met with NZTA, and queried, among other things, the detour at Royal Rd and some missing side accesses and the promised future proofed bridge at Lincoln Road, we were told that our best chance to get underpasses and bridges at interchanged would be once the busway is being built. I told them we were a bit sick of always being told that the really good stuff for cycling would be in the NEXT project.

    1. On a more positive note, I understand the cycle lanes west east on Royal Road have been extended and are now protected cycle lanes after requests from AT and CAA.

  2. This falls in the ‘well we have to build breakdown shoulders so we’ll make them a tiny bit wider and call them bus shoulder lanes’ category. Pathetic. Likewise the cycle path not following motorway grades and priority.

  3. As a person who uses the cycle lanes on Triangle road Monday to Friday, I will continue to use Triangle road until there is a practical way to cross Lincoln rd at the end of the current cycle-way. Currently it takes three pedestrian phases to cross Lincoln rd if you are heading to the concourse. To connect to an extended NW cycle way beside the motorway will require and extra crossing of the west bound on ramp. So all up, will take four crossing phases. This is a joke. This is a newly upgraded interchange and there wasn’t enough forethought to future proof it with an underpass, like Te Atatu is getting.

  4. Instead of the term “motorist”, it would be more accurate if NZTA used the term “single occupant vehicles”.

    I.e “Widening the motorway to create 3 lanes in both directions for single occupant vehicles”

      1. The point is that you’re not the problem. If every car in Auckland had more than one person there wouldn’t need to be any more roads built or expanded. It is the growth in SOVs that is driving road building and expansion.

  5. So if they are widening all of these bridges then presumably they are making them wide enough for the busway and a cycleway underpass, you know, like actual future proofing right?

    Not that I am holding my breath.

    1. It’s not too bad, Brigham Creek Road is fine. A full junction would be total overkill given how light traffic is along there almost all the time.

  6. anybody know how much is the total bill for all the works they’ve been doing on the 16? 100 million here, 100 millions there…

  7. Motorway widening should simply not happen in the absence of a parallel Rapid Transit route. Build the RTN [and Active] and then widen the motorway as needed. The priority is backwards and is just irresponsible and wrong. We simply have the wrong policy for the city and our age. It is impossible to balance a Nash Equilibrium with only one side of the ledger. Yet more traffic inducement.


    1. Completely agree! Especially now that we have seen how effective the northern busway has been. Am I correct in thinking that a busway would have at least 3 times the capacity of an extra motorway lane?

      1. The capacity of a traffic lane is around 2000 to 2500 people per hour. The same amount of people fits on just 40 buses per hour on that bus lane. (the same amount also fits on 3 trains)

        And as a bonus all the people on those buses don’t need to find a parking spot.

        1. ‘And as a bonus all the people on those buses don’t need to find a parking spot.’

          This is more than a bonus at the city end. The space and treasure wasted on stacking these things in the city is criminal.

  8. Knocking down houses? Crikey, at this rate there will be more houses ‘removed’ in Auckland than actually built! See today’s Herald.

    1. Ha, what a joke the SHA has been!

      This is what happens when you keep restricting the market: “At least one other property owner has opted out of the fast-track provisions allowed under the SHA rules because these require a proportion of “affordable” housing”

      Auckland doesn’t need more ‘affordable’ housing, we already have lots of crap houses that should be affordable. Auckland just needs more housing.
      Its not that Auckland’s houses are too expensive, its that the land under the houses is too expensive. The land is expensive because of planning restrictions.

      1. The land is expensive because of a deliberately-induced asset bubble, pumping in credit to over-inflate the housing market. This is to enrich the middle class and inject spending money into the economy, which has been deflated by driving down wages at the lower end.

        1. Nice theory, but not so. The part missing is that a substantial amount of the money that has purchased Auckland property in the last 5 years or so has been foreign, no local banks clipping the ticket. Something we never had before to any large degree.

  9. I understand that part of the reason this took so long is that nobody at the old Transit NZ lived out this way. So other projects got noticed and programmed but SH16 didn’t get studied until the ring road idea got going.

    1. If noone from the previous transport planning organisations weren’t there, why weren’t more of those smelly bus things seen as the answer?

  10. Given that NZTA have said that widening the two lane stretch of motorway adjacent Sylvia Park would only cause congestion elsewhere in the network, why on earth are they thinking of widening this section of motorway? Surely the same congestion problems ‘elsewhere in the network’ will happen out West – or is the Southern Motorway a unique situation?

    1. Yes, that is actually unique on our motorway network. Or rather it was, the same situation is already starting at the Manukau interchange, and will at Waterview too.

  11. What can we say about the NZTA, other than that their staff are incompetent?

    They’re terrible at what they are supposed to do – the efficient movement of people and goods.

      1. I would hope not!

        Since vehicle kilometres have declined in the last five years, I would expect things to get better. Even with a massive misdirection of resources to inefficient transport modes.

  12. Just read an article in the NZ Herald that quotes the IMF (regarding NZ Govt Budget): “The IMF warns that “The main medium-term risk for advanced economies is a further decline of already-low growth into near stagnation, particularly if global demand falters further as prospects weaken for emerging market and developing economies.”

    Countries (such as New Zealand) which are not fiscally constrained and which significantly rely on net external demand should ease their fiscal stance in the near term, especially through increased infrastructure investment, it says.”
    CRL is infrastructure…get it built!

    1. We have a government that has a special dictionary that defines infrastructure as roads. Nothing else qualifies. So scary comments from them a five months back that we could build more infrastructure if we fall into recession means more low value spending.

  13. Meh at the Busway, do Northwest Metro and just do it right. Stage 2 can be NS if they don’t secede with Rodney. The North shall rise again or something

    1. Yeah, lets get 20% more gain for a 500% increase in cost. If the Northern Busway has proven anything it is that a low cost stepping stone will build the ridership and will for further expansion.

  14. Hobsonville commuter (driver with 2 pax) here.

    * West bound on-ramp at Lincoln Road is unsafe because it’s too short, so pleased to see that is being improved.
    * Three lanes city-bound is welcome. Currently 5 lanes (2x SH16, 2x SH18, 1x Westgate on-ramp) converge into 2 lanes, and it chokes every morning
    * Three lanes west-bound is totally unnecessary. I’ve never ever struck traffic that hasn’t been travelling the speed limit here.
    * Just build the damn Busway would you!! I wouldn’t touch a bus from Westgate at the moment, it would get stuck in the same traffic that I do everyday.

    1. Absolutely, not many use PT around here because the buses have little to no priority and get stuck in general traffic, there’s almost no benefit over car at peak, and off-peak the travel times are horrendous on the 080/090 buses through the back streets to town, which will be fixed in the new network luckily. But 060 is even worse, peak traffic is crazy congested between the north end of Fred Taylor Drive and Huapai, yet your only serious mode choice is Car or Bus stuck among the cars, all that and theres more housing going in… every time I drive through Huapai I look at the train tracks and facepalm, its very sad to see such a wasted opportunity.

  15. This just highlights that the busway is still not an actual greenlighted project, and isn’t likely to be constructed for a very long time.

    The 5km of traffic congestion at Kumeu every weekday morning is an issue that needs resolving now, not in 20+ years. This is why the northwest community want their component of the 2006-2016 Rail Development Plan to proceed – because it’s the only viable alternative to the significant traffic congestion they now face, and is cheap and quick to implement. Can be six months away, not 20 years.

  16. Brigham Creek Road is going to get very busy in the next year or so. There is a big subdivision going in at the corner of Brigham Creek and Totara, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see that area become the next Hobsonville or Huapai, nowithstanding that it practically sits on the end of the Whenuapai runway. All the more reason to build a busway.

  17. Cycle way needs an underpass under the Royal Rd off ramp. Carrington Rd & St Luke’s interchange set the president thou, motorway widening and no improvement for cycling, even with the higher number of cyclists. How much extra would underpasses cost, if completed along with the road work?

    1. Cycle Action was told they didnt want to build expensive cycle underpasses theyd have to remove/realign again for a future busway layout that has not yet been fixed. It felt very much like being played, PT against cycling, while the motorway construction proceeds apace.

      Since this all was consented around 2011, and almost all within NZTA land, the ability to input is rather limited, even if AC/AT were more on the ball with the busway plans.

  18. Not that I have anything against future proofing but they appear to be saying there will be bus shoulders all the way to Westgate off-ramp, but no buses continue on motorway beyond Royal Rd off-ramp according to the new network map.

    Also I got caught by the lack of on/off-ramps at both westgate and royal (travelling citybound direction from further out on SH16) on a few occasions, and had to double back at Lincoln… similarly happened to me at Hobsonville point, theres no west-bound ramps there… just northbound.

    1. There’s the massive roundabout overkill full junction at Brigham Creek Road just five minutes away from the Squadron Dr ramps. Do we really need more?

  19. I went to the information day yesterday. The NZTA guy proudly told me about the cycle path that would be included. I bluntly told him that unless they come up with a practical way to cross Lincoln Rd they might as well save their money as no one will use it. He then proceeded to give reasons why it hadn’t been done. I said that unless you decide you want to do this or are told that you must, then you won’t find a solution.
    I think the only real hope is when or if the NW express bus way gets built, they will have to get buses across Lincoln Rd, we
    can get something added for the cycle path.

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