The third and final consultation on Transport for Future Urban Growth (TFUG) has kicked off today and this time it’s the turn of the North-west. The intention of this work is to start working out what major transport infrastructure is going to be needed to support around 110,000 houses on undeveloped land in three main areas on the edge of Auckland. The first consultation was in the South and last week they kicked off the consultation for the North.
In the Northwest they expect that over the next 30 years there’ll be around 30,000 new homes housing 75,000 people. There’ll also be around 13,000 new jobs which suggests the area will continue to have very high commuter flows.
The development is expected to mainly be in two clusters, one around Westgate/Whenuapai/Hobsonville and a second around Huapai/Kumeu. This is shown below along with some of the transport projects already being planned
One question I continue to have is why AT are thinking of widening Hobsonville Rd when we’ve just built a parallel motorway. As someone who travels the road regularly (when riding home like I’ll be doing this afternoon) the road is has fairly light traffic volumes and is certainly not a priority to widen.
The main transport issues are listed as:
- Safety of State Highway 16
- Communities along State Highway 16, such as Kumeu and Huapai, have only single road access in and out, limiting travel options
- Severance caused by State Highway 16 and the rail corridor
- No rapid public transport connections between the north west and large employment areas.
When it comes to the list of potential options for the North-west there are quite a few.
- Alternative corridor parallel to SH16.
- Extend commuter rail services to Huapai.
- Improved east-west connections to Redhills.
- Extend the northwestern busway to Kumeu/Huapai (and future proof for light rail).
- Direct north west to North Shore connection between SH16 and SH18.
- Improved connections to Coatesville, Riverhead and North Shore.
- Westgate to Albany busway.
- Increased frequencies on Hobsonville and West Harbour ferry services.
- Improve safety and/or capacity on SH16.
- New north-south connection.
- Whenuapai new connections.
There are immediately a few quite interesting aspects but I’ll cover them further below as they are looked at in more detail in options for the individual areas.
In the Red Hills/Westgate/Whenuapai area a lot of growth is already under way. They say the housing is sequenced to happen around Whenuapai from 2017-2021 while the housing around the area around Red Hills will be between 2022-2026.
AT/NZTA say planning is already underway for the NW busway as far as Westgate but they also want to know whether it should be carried on to Kumeu (yes) or done via just bus lanes. They also want to know if a busway or bus priority should go over SH18 to Constellation.
NZTA also obviously want to give better north/east motorway connections which weren’t built as part of the motorway works finished about 5 years ago. It would be interesting to see just how much those connections will cost.
Looking further northwest at Huapai/Kumeu there are a few additional options. Along with the busway/bus priority there’s also the possibility of upgrading the existing rail line from Swanson. I think the busway/light rail wins hands down as the rail line is simply too indirect and not many travel from the area to stations along the western line – a trend that isn’t likely to change. Even without a full busway, improving services is something AT could be putting in place fairly quickly if they wanted. I also suspect that getting SH16 out of the Huapai/Kumeu town centre is almost certainly going to be needed as the area develops.
There is also a question as to whether SH16 should be improved through the town centre or if the town centre should be bypassed by a new road. If the goal is to make the area more like a town centre – like I think we should be aiming for – then a bypass is going to be a better option.
This consultation is open for two weeks while the consultation for the North finishes next week. Following this consultation, the team/s working on it will come up with a suggested package of projects for further consultation in April.