This is the third in a series of posts reviewing the year that has been. Part one reviewed public transport and part two reviewed walking and cycling.

As covered in the first two posts of the series there has been a lot of progress on public transport, walking and cycling over 2015 but that doesn’t mean roads have neglected and by far more is being spent on roads – particularly the state highways – than everything else combined.

Waterview/Western Ring Route

The biggest game in town remains Waterview and the other projects being built as part of the Western Ring Route. The second of the two Waterview tunnels started just before the end of last year and broke through in October. The TBM has now been dismantled and just before Christmas the NZTA announced all excavation had finished after the last of the cross passages was dug out. Work is now focused on fitting out the tunnels.

While at the Northern end the maze of ramps to feed traffic to and from the tunnels has continued to grow. So too has the widening of the causeway.

Waterview Aerial - Nov 15 - 1

While the formal date for completion is 2017 it wouldn’t surprise me if they get these parts open by the end of the year.

Further along the WRR work has being going on at Te Atatu and the NZTA say this will be completed by March.

In November the NZTA announced they will start next year on widening the section between Lincoln Rd and Westgate which will be the final part of SH16 to be upgraded.

Lincoln Rd to Westgate Motorway Widening Map

Northern Corridor

Technically part of the Western Ring Route the government announced in 2013 they would accelerate a number of motorway projects. One of those was the Northern Corridor, the junction of SH16 and SH1 through to Greville Rd. Following on from consultation in late 2014 in which there were some truly horrific options presented, the NZTA confirmed their preferred design this year and as discussed in the PT review, included bringing the busway back into the project. We’ll hear more about this in 2016 but construction is still expected to be a few years away.

Northern Corridor - July Design

SH20A – Kirkbride Road

Another of the projects the government accelerated in 2013 was the grade separation of Kirkbride Rd. The project is currently under construction. AT had to pay $21 million on top of the $140 million project to make the road being built 3.5m wider than the NZTA engineers wanted to so it was future proofed for rail as without it the NZTA would have effectively prevented rail to the airport from happening.

East-West Link

The East-West Link has rolled on throughout the year and in June the NZTA/AT confirmed their preferred option of an almost motorway along the northern foreshore of the Mangere Inlet that at this stage appears will cut off access to the water from the current walking and cycling path that reader Jeff provided a wonderful photo essay of.

East-West Preferred Option

Just before Christmas the NZTA and AT announced they will move to the next stage of the East West Link and apply for consent later in 2016. They will use the EPA process which is the same as was used for projects like Waterview, Puhoi to Warkworth and the Basin Reserve.

We have some serious concerns about the project – and not just that it cuts off access. We are hearing the cost of it could be blowing out to over $1.5 billion and the economic case for more than an upgrade to Neilson St doesn’t appear to have been made.

Southern Motorway

In October the sod was turned on the widening of the Southern Motorway, another of the governments accelerated projects. The $270 million project will see extra lanes added from Manukau though to Papakura.

Southern Corridor Stages

Albany Highway

AT have continued to work on Albany Highway and say the section between Bush Rd and Rosedale Rd is expected to be finished in January with the remaining section finished in late 2016 ahead of schedule.

Te Atatu Rd

AT started work on widening Te Atatu Rd. Typically with road projects these days the project page lists benefits of the project and number one is improvements to walking, cycling and buses. The reality is walking and cycling improvements essentially consist of a few shared paths and the bus priority is bus advance lane in one direction at one intersection. The main reason for the project is to add a flush median

Primary benefits

  • Make travel by bus, cycle and walking at peak times more attractive than commuting in private vehicles, by:
  • improving travel times for buses (via bus priority measures and better overall traffic flow),
  • improving cycle facilities (with particular benefit to school students) and connection to the Greater Auckland cycle network via the North Western Cycleway,
  • improving pedestrian facilities.
  • Improved traffic flow for commercial vehicles.
  • Improved ease-of-passage for emergency vehicles.
  • Improved road safety for all modes of transport.

Secondary benefits

  • Improved traffic flow for private vehicles.
  • Improved storm-water management and landscaping.

Penlink

During the year AT got resource consent to widen the designation for Penlink for a four lane road.

RoNS

Elsewhere in the country the RoNS have steamed on – with the notable exception the of the Basin Reserve Flyover for which the NZTA lost their appeal. More sections of the Waikato Expressway have been completed and other sections started including the $1 billion new bypass of Hamilton of which even in 2041 some sections are only expected to have less than 10,000 vehicles per day on.

One the RoNS, Peter wrote an excellent series of posts based a MoT paper reviewing the capital spending on roads that we obtained via an OIA. It includes charts such as below showing how we’re spending on projects with low economic returns while delaying projects with much better business cases.

MoT de-prioritised projects 1

Anything you think I’ve missed from my round up?

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28 comments

  1. Christchurch is getting a $800 million upgrade of the Northern and Southern Motorways as part of the RoNS project.
    https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/christchurch-motorways/

    I drive past the Western Belfast diversion most days and work is progressing steadily there.

    Meanwhile CCC is trying to put commuter rail back on the agenda to combat congestion.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/74965778/christchurch-commuter-rail-back-on-the-city-councils-agenda

    It is doubtful that with National/Brownlee controlling most of the other institutions in Canterbury -Ecan, NZTA, Cera, CCDU that much progress will be made on that front.

  2. Something that has changed over the last year is roading projects increasing the cost of trains to the airport.

    At kirkbride road, “An 8m rail corridor has been provided, which is wide enough for at grade light rail through the trench or for elevated heavy rail.” https://at.govt.nz/about-us/news-events/commitment-to-airport-and-mangere-rail/ This could have been rail and motorway at grade giving a cheaper overall cost.

    At Onehunga the east-west connections projects also likely increase rail costs. From feedback summary: “Feedback also emphasised that options should not preclude other
    potential future development in the area such as rail to the airport.”, “Lower the gradient of the railway bridge”
    https://at.govt.nz/media/1144042/East-West-Connections-Feedback-Summary.pdf Given the roads want to cross at grade, rail costs can only increase.

    1. The history of the RTN corridor through Mangere to the Airport is one of such active neglect of its practical use as a rail right-of-way that it is hard to believe that it isn’t the result of anything but a campaign by various players, most notably some at NZTA and its predecessors, but also the old Manukau City Council, to prevent the very idea of a train ever travelling there. The latest, and I suspect fatal blow, is the vast additional capital cost that has been lumbered onto the project with NZTA’s design of this intersection. Here the possibility of Light Rail has been used as the excuse to price out the extension our existing rail system, that is already half way there. Everyone is claiming that all options are open, and no one has any preferences, as they slam the door shut on a rail line by pilling additional cost onto it.

  3. The Mill Road/Redoubt Road Corridor has been touted as one of the major road infrastructure projects in Auckland. This project has dragged on and has affected residents and landowners’ enjoyment of their properties along the planned route for years, pre-dating the Super City. A planning hearing has been held and I was wondering if anyone has an update or a timetable as to when any decisions will be made.

  4. Very interesting is the contrast with the last two posts (also excellent – thanks!), which shows that if you live in central Auckland you can expect lavish public transport from AT, but for the rest of Auckland you get lavish roading projects but unaffordable and infrequent public transport. There’s so much money being spent on both, but no consistent theme other than that if you live outside of central Auckland AT insists that you own and maintain a private car. But it’s not right, it’s not ethical and it’s not responsible. We have a potential climate disaster on our hands and one way for Auckland to fight it is to reduce the dependency that has been created on private vehicle transport.

    We can do better than that, and this last year has shown that there’s enough smart people inside AT to do it. Broaden your horizons AT – if you can do it for central Auckland you can do it for all of Auckland, and we are ready for it!

    1. David please, I would hope that any regular reader of this blog wouldn’t fall for the myth that the CRL is just about the centre? Yes that’s where all of the construction disruption will occur but the benefit will be for the entire rail network and in fact to anyone who drives or uses a bus in the whole city, making that existing system newly useful benefits all users of the wider city. And especially all of west Auckland, which essentially gets hauled substantially closer to jobs and education options, widening its appeal beyond measure.

      However it is criminal that both AMETI and the NW Busway are not projects currently being constructed. The Busway clearly should be part of the massive works there, and in fact is the only way that the new motorways won’t in fact likely be something of a mess when they open; Waterview and wider causeway will flood the inner SH16 with cars upon opening because of the lack of a quality RTN alternative; this is a political failure. And AMETI is now in a disastrous distraction over the local backward political powers desire for a flyover, of all things. Another political failure.

      So in the sense that these aren’t immediately happening along with the CRL, LRT, and the NB extension, and more advanced state of Mangere/Airport rail; you are right about the uneven application of the great PT rebuild in AKL.
      How to fund as full as possible RTN as soon as possible across the city is the challenge for the years ahead, in deed.

      1. I don’t think David’s comments are about the CRL, as someone who lives outside the centre of Auckland it really does feel the centre is getting all the attention on public transport while the rest of Auckland is not. THis is not about the CRL which helps all of Auckland but things like electrification to Pukekohe is far more urgent and a no brainer to starting with far more expensive light rail for the central city.
        And the push from AT for light rail to the Airport will be a complete nightmare for anyone who is not in the centre of Auckland who wants to use trains to get to the airport – which also supports David’s comment.

        1. I don’t get your last comment, why would light rail be a nightmare for people outside the centre? You could get to the airport directly from eden terrace, balmoral, mt roskill, lynfield, royal oak, onehunga, mangere bridge and mangere. You could also transfer to it from bus routes all around the region.

          Light rail would serve other suburbs to heavy rail, but I don’t see how it’s a nightmare?

          1. If you are down south or out west you want to take a fast train to Penrose or Otahuhu and trf to another fast train to the airport. Trf to a tram in the city after getting on at Pukekohe / Papakure / Swanson etc. will easily add another 60 minutes as well as being crowded and designed for local communities – a complete nightmare.
            This year I was in Istanbul with lots of bags and the train out of the airport was great – quick, space for bags etc. similar to the tube line to Heathrow but once I transferred to the tram network it was so crowded with no rooms for bags and after a 30 hour flight with 2 young kids including a pram was a complete nightmare.
            Public transport from an airport has to be heavy rail which is just easy, quick to use with plenty of space, plus a network servicing all of Auckland and not light rail or buses

          2. several reasons including:
            A train can be every 5 – 10 minutes at all times of the day & trains are a lot easier than buses when traveling with lots of bags and several prams with kids.
            Plus when you arrive in arrive in a foreign city train stations are a lot easier by far to find than bus stops at an airport. Having tried that in Dublin for example it was a complete pain.
            And Papakure is not good for those coming out West.

          3. EDIT: People don’ realize that prams + kids don’t easily go with buses at the best of times let alone when carrying big pack backs and pulling suitcases.
            Heavy rail is the only complete solution for everyone which services the largest area.

          4. Agree with Adam. Has to be HR rather than LR.
            To his list of South and West I would also add North and East. LR only really serves those in Central Auckland for everyone else the journey would be much longer than HR.
            By all means build the 3 parallel LR lines along Dominion Rd etc but leave it at that. Long term would be great to see the Avondale-Southdown HR line constructed with links to those 3 LR lines. In theory the Avondale-Southdown line coupled with the Onehunga-Airport and Airport-Manukau would allow a rail bypass from South-North/West which could be quite useful for freight if in future we reduce Ports of Auckland and split its operations between North Port and Tauranga.

          5. Ok I dont get that either, how is light rail so terrible from the north but heavy rail is amazing or something? Surely they are both the same because they both require a change in the city centre, or maybe light rail is a touch easier to get to from the busway bus stop?

          6. LR from the north is worse than HR for the following reasons:
            1) LR is going to be slower and take longer (with more stops etc). Basically from Britomart on LR you will be traipsing through the central Auckland suburbs with lots of stops before going over the Manukau. HR by contrast will be faster with less stops and more direct to Onehunga. Eventually when rail to the North Shore happens HR will be faster still as it will be a simple transfer at Aotea Station vs making your way through the crowds with luggage down to Queen Street. Even coming from the Shore by ferry will be faster on HR.

          7. I’m no longer convinced we’ll ever see heavy rail on the North Shore, in fact I think it’s far more likely we’ll see the light rail network extended over there meaning there could be a one seat ride from the shore to the airport

          8. A tram to airport would have to struggle through all the CBD and Dom Rd intersections, and get held up by other trams. Why would somebody prefer to travel by tram when it could take twice as long as train? The train has its own right of way, less stops and much faster speed. The councils report quoting a 44min tram ride is fantasyland, at least for the less than a billion price tag they are quoting for the Dom Rd section.

          9. exactly Anthony. Also that for everyone but central Auckland it will be longer/slower than HR. Even for people central but South of the CBD HR will be faster

          10. Anthony, you’re talking about ‘trams’ struggling through intersections and getting held up by other ‘trams’.

            From this its clear you don’t understand what AT is proposing. They’re pretty serious on true light rail, not rambling street trams.

            To quote ATs website:
            “Light Rail Transit (LRT) is a public transport system similar to a tramway, but operating principally along exclusive rights-of-way, with less frequent stops, higher capacity and higher average speeds than local bus services.

            Light rail in Auckland could carry 450 people per vehicle at a frequency of one every 8-10 minutes.”

            So exclusive right of way, widely spaced stops, high speed, and high capacity vehicles at relatively high headways… Not trams getting stuck at intersections and catching up with each other.

          1. If 8 meters isn’t enough at Kirkbride Rd for heavy rail, how wide would it need to be? Isn’t the Parnell tunnel less than 8 metres?

          2. The EMU’s are only 2.76m wide so even if you allowed 1m between them and 0.5m on each side that only comes to 7.52m

          3. Wilfully adding cost to the rail option? I note that the Rail option also has the station further from the terminal at the airport so an additional three minutes walk time is added to the estimated time for rail but not LR; so instead of 32-35mins for rail, it’s 35-38. Just nudging it closer to that very ambitious LR estimate [46-49mins].

            Best practice everywhere is to fully integrate rail stations into airport terminals. And clearly this should be and could be the case with the new terminal building in Auckland, whichever form of rail is delivered. Do AIAL plan to deliver second rate systems in other aspect of their new airport?

            These games don’t seem necessary. Build LRT I [Queen/Dom/Kingsland spur] on it’s own merits, it doesn’t need this additional route to justify it.

          4. Is it not a a bit conspirational to say they are willfully adding cost to one option, rather than willfully removing cost by investigating a cheaper option? I dont quite get this idea that AT hate trains and are secretly conspiring to scupper them. Maybe NZTA and MoT couldnt care less and force ATs hand, but surely thats a case of indifference rather than malice.

            On the topic of stations, yes it seems Auckland Airport indicate the heavy rail station would be built in the current carpark space a few hundred metres from the terminal. But I dont think this is a cynical ploy, its just reality. Retrofitting heavy rail or metro is hard and expensive and more often than not they end up in a less than ideal location. Brisbane and Vancouver airports both spring to mind, smallish airports with rail added after the fact, and the station sits in a carpark area accessed via walkways and ramps.
            One of the benefits of light rail is that it could run for the last few metres at street level, and stop right in front of the terminal door where the bus and taxis do now. That is fundamentally cheap and east for light rail to do, but naturally hard and expensive for heavy rail. They are ineed different beast.

            So yes, you could argue that LRT is cheaper because it allows you to compromise to a greater extent. But it is cheaper, and sometimes a little compromise is necessary to achieve anything. Saving several hundred million dollars at the expense of six minutes end to end sounds like a compromise worth considering, especially if that means the difference between doing it or having nothing at all.

    2. One of the stated aims of the Mill Road Corridor in Manukau is to relieve pressure from the Southern Motorway. In other words to provide another highway for cars and road traffic.It would have been great if the money ear-marked for the corridor had actually been ear-marked for trams (or a mini-bus network) feeding in to the new Manukau rail terminus. Who knows, they could have planned for a branch tramway from Manukau through Flatbush to Howick/Pakuranga.

      It does seem to me that AT have big plans to spend big money on multi-lane highways in the Auckland periphery. Apparently it is to cope with the anticipated demand from all the greenfield residential developments. I would have thought that these planned highways would actually encourage the use of private cars. If the money were spent on developing public transport including tramways, light rail and greater more subsidisation of existing bus services, then perhaps that could encourage residential intensification. If fast and relatively uncrowded super-highways are built to cater for suburban greenfield sites then surely you are encouraging suburban sprawl and private car use and discouraging intensification and cost effective public transport development. Densely populated areas serviced with good public transport would reduce the need for greenfield sites for development in the first place.

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