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

AT Advance property purchase

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

McWhirter Block

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.

The motorway interchange looks a lot bigger now
The motorway interchange looks a lot bigger now

What surprised me though was that it appears the NZTA will make AT pay for that land. This is for a few reasons.

  1. The busway should be being developed by the NZTA, just like they developed the Northern Busway.
  2. 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.

Union St Carpark Sale to NZTA

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.

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18 comments

  1. Isn’t this a well known fact? The NZTA gets the big money, and AT gets to play with their toy buses. And if AT has been very, very good the NZTA will even buy them a toy train for christmas.

    For our larger cities (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) the central-planning system of transportation funding is a disgrace and should be replaced with a local system. Of course in rural communities the expertise to plan large projects is probably better left to the NZTA.

    If there are truly “Roads of National Significance” then they can go around our urban areas.

  2. “The busway should be being developed by the NZTA, just like they developed the Northern Busway.”
    North Shore City stumped up a good part of the Northern busway including the interchanges. Transit NZ did the main line bits.

    1. If only there was a website where you could type something you wanted to know into a little box and it would give you answers. NSCC stumped up for the access roads to the stations, the stations and the carparking areas. They were the requiring authority for them, not Transit, Transit did the bits on their motorway reserve. NSCC diverted development contributions into the busway illegally as it turned out and were sued I think by Neil Construction in the High Court. The council lost as they were didnt link cause and effect between the development and their pet busway project.
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3569123
      http://www.propbd.co.nz/judge-tells-shore-council-to-redo-busway-numbers-on-new-development-contributions-count/
      Put these innuendo!

  3. We JAFAs are disliked by all that have the misfortune to not reside in our magnificent citadel. Hence our local authorities seem desperate to curry favor, so give stuff away, and the rest of the country loves nothing better than messing with JAFAs, so the national authorities make our local ones pay through the nose.

    1. Unaware that we have any decent Mayoral candidates. I’m certainly struggling to decide who to vote for. Certain that it will not be the Labour Party sellout. We need a viable left-wing option, so that rules out Penny Bright.

      1. It’s called “politics”. It is always a choice of the least bad or the candidate who has the fewest policies you dislike. It’s never been any different. It amazes me how people seem to think it ever was – or ever will be.

      2. Penny Bright is neither viable nor left-wing. She’s a very right-wing anti-rates campaigner who believes that Global Warming is a hoax. If she had a radio show she’d be this country’s Alex Jones.

  4. I think the bus stations will have the biggest impact in the near future, for places like Te Atatu it means you can get to Westgate a lot more directly and allows an increase of local frequency. For Te Atatu the busway itself has no advantage for citybound travel as the causeway will remain as bus priority lanes post-busway unless there’s a radical change to the concept and budget.

    Of course for Lincoln, Royal and Westgate the busway offers better travel times at peak but the WRR is still in construction until 2019 along that section, and the works they are soon doing on the Royal Rd bridge are NOT allowing for the busway (due to budget constraints the bridge can not be made extra long to facilitate busway underneath) and will require re-working again when the busway is being constructed. There is also a lack of space along the corridor which will require even more residential/commercial sites to be taken out.

    The NW Busway is still looking like a long-term solution, at least those worst affected can have an immediate remedy via a shuttle train.

  5. Potential LRT depot location now explains the extension of the Dominion Rd LRT along Stoddard Rd seen on map a few months ago. However I am pretty sure the map shown on this page https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/light-rail/ has changed, as it now appears to show the LRT using the Avondale-Southdown rail corridor. I don‘t think this is such a great idea and would rather see a heavy rail spur line developed from Dominion to NAL and into CBD via CRL.
    From the descriptions above its hard to be sure where exactly they are planning for the depot as there is quite a bit of land being used for motorway construction.
    $30M for land sounds like a lot considering the 1.5km wynyard tram circuit & stabling was built for $8M. Is there cheaper land somewhere else? The underground space above CRL cut & cover? Within the central motorway junction?

    1. Its only using a small portion of the Avondale Southdown corridor as it runs along beside the Southwestern up to Hillsborough Rd, The corridor is further North beside Herd road and then the northern side of Onehunga High School. Its a strip of Kiwi rail lease hold land that is greatly underused. It’d make a great linear park, cycle way through Onehunga, if you could get past the cost of buying the land off Kiwi Rail.

      Actually if Onehunga going to be forced to accept the East West link, then as compensation give the community the rail corridor as a park.

      1. Sandingham Rd extension to Hillsborough Rd is a bit more than a small portion of the Avondale Southdown Line (the designation can be seen on the AC Isthmus District Plan maps, then heading east then southeast through Onehunga, much of it built on), and using it for light rail would seem to effectively write it off for its original purpose, providing a route for freight to/from the north to bypass Newmarket.

    2. Speaking of the underground space above CRL, imagine for just a moment if AT too the opportunity to make this space into an underground mall (like many other cities have) you could have a line of shops with a nice underground pedestrian passage all the way along with small access points at regular intervals. The income from leasing this land could go towards the running costs of the CRL and it would provide a good space for the public.

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