Today the Auckland Council are deciding on the rates for the coming year. While looking through one part of the document (29.1MB) I came across one aspect that caught my attention. Auckland Transport want to buy $80 million of property in advance so that they’ll have it available when it comes time to actually build the infrastructure they’re planning. For his part, the mayor is proposing that AT only get $30 million in the 2016/17 year and $20 million in the 2017/18 year.
There’s a brief explanation of what is proposed on page 214 and a more detailed report on pages 251-254. That more detailed report gives us these details about what AT would use the money for
And here are the details for some of the ones I found more interesting.
Bringing forward property for future projects
337 Lincoln Road
This property is owned by NZTA and they have advised they will be commencing their disposal process. The property has been identified as the preferred option for a bus interchange. The estimated cost for the land acquisition is $6 million.
Purchase of property ahead of development
A block of bare residentially-zoned land adjacent to the North Westem Motorway is currently being built on by a developer, Part of the site will be required for the future North Western Busway. The developer has approached AT asking if we wish to buy the required portion of land. The market price for the bare single site is considerably less than buying over 40 individual housing units in future and mitigating the effects of the Busway on the adjacent home owners. If the required land is purchased now, the developer will ensure houses are appropriately set back and encing/sound-proofing occurs to mitigate the future effects of the Busway. The required parcel of land is approximately 7 ,880m2 and has an expected value of approximately $8.3 million.
Light Rail Depot
AT progressing the investigations for Light Rail Transit (LRT) following tho AT Board’s endorsement of the Strategic Case for CRT. An indicative business case is being prepared for joint agreement between the NZTA and AT. This work is being funded Within ATS Current operational budget.
There is no current LTP to buy any property for LRT and the project is not yet supported by Council or Government.
Planning to date indicates that the ideal site for a required depot is the site currently being used as the construction worksite for the Waterview Tunnel. This site is likely to be declared surplus by NZTA in December 2016. The potential site comprises two sites owned by KiwiRail and NZTA with a value of $30 million. Both agencies are under pressure to recycle capital and better utilise their portfolios, and both sites are likely to be developed should the agencies dispose of the sites. It will be both expensive and potentially difficult to acquire this depot site if sold development.
It’s good to see that AT are already thinking ahead about progressing the Northwest Busway and Light Rail. Having to buy newly developed land to enable it would be extremely expensive so it makes a lot of sense to buy the land now. It’s also interesting to learn where they plan to put a busway station at Lincoln Rd – which hopefully can be built in advance of the busway to enable the full roll out of the new bus network sooner as AT had to hobble it due to Lincoln and Te Atatu bus interchanges not being present.
What surprised me though was that it appears the NZTA will make AT pay for that land. This is for a few reasons.
- The busway should be being developed by the NZTA, just like they developed the Northern Busway.
- It appears that when the NZTA want land from AT/Council, Auckland effectively just gives it to them.
To explain #2 a bit more. Last year the NZTA built what they call a Central Incident Response Centre on Union St replacing a carpark the City Centre Master Plan envisaged would see the Cook St off-ramp rerouted through in a bid to detune Cook St.
For what was probably the best bargain in town, AT sold them the land for $1. Here’s what the NZTA told me at the time.
The land was transferred from Auckland Council’s ownership, but under AT administration.
The transfer was for a nominal sum of $1.
The NZ Transport Agency is making best use of the land now by utilising the site to provide an improved location for the incident response team which provides better outcomes for all its customers. It will provide better access to the Central Motorway Junction, quicker responses to incidents in the Victoria Park Tunnel and northbound on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
We have designed the Central Incident Response Centre as a fully relocatable building. The full extent of the land we may require for an additional Waitemata Harbour crossing is still to be determined, and that will be done through the route protection phase of works.
If at some point in the future the Union Street site is needed the building can be moved.
Seeing as Auckland is seemingly so generous in giving the NZTA land, surely they should be reciprocating and sell AT the land they need equally cheaply? Of course they should just be getting on with building a busway in the first place and it should have happened as part of the motorway upgrade.