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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Improved traffic flow for private vehicles.
- Improved storm-water management and landscaping.
During the year AT got resource consent to widen the designation for Penlink for a four lane road.
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.
Anything you think I’ve missed from my round up?