Last week I wrote about the East West Link Connections and how the cost of the project were ever increasing and how the staging for the project had changed. The post was based on a number of papers I received from the NZTA as a result of an OIA request.

East-West Preferred Option
The preferred East-West option

One aspect I didn’t cover were some of the major risks that have been identified for the project. These are described in the paper from December 2015, I’ve left out the funding risk as not really relevant to this post.

  1. The underlying land use and travel demand assumptions for the project are based on an agreed medium growth scenario associated with the Auckland Plan. Given the preferred option is a long-term response to current and planned future growth, there is a risk that the growth assumptions and associated travel demand may not materialise as planned. This could result in a transport response that is misaligned with the future needs of the network and as such, this will need to be reviewed at each funding stage as the project progresses.
  2. Given the early stage of the project, there is a future cost risk that outturn costs will exceed the expected estimate, based on incomplete knowledge. This has been accounted for by providing additional contingency in the current estimates. The top cost risk items are:
    • Property – the proposed alignment has attempted to minimise impact on industrial zoned property as far as practicable, however there are still a number of properties which will likely be required either in part or whole. Based on the current state of the Auckland property market, any delays to the property acquisition process are likely to result in inflated property costs above and beyond current market rates.
    • Neilson St Interchange – the design of the interchange is a complex task requiring careful balancing of competing priorities and community interests. There are significant consenting challenges both with the presence of natural volcanic features (Hopua tuff ring), but also the close proximity to the town centre and the foreshore, both of which have strong public interest. There is a risk that through the consenting process an alternative proposal is put forward that is significantly more costly (CapEx and/or OpEx) than the currently preferred option.
    • Foreshore – having regard to the NZ Coastal Policy Statement and recent case law, there are significant policy hurdles to pass with the proposed alignment along the foreshore. Conversely, early engagement with key partners has indicated conditional support on the basis that the proposed response could have the greatest opportunity for mitigation, particularly in tidying up historical reclamation and contaminating activities. It is expected that more than just mitigation will need to be considered to enable reclamation to be considered favourably, though the extent of works required and associated costs is unknown at this stage.

Let’s just step through them a bit

Land Use and Travel Demand assumptions – A lot of assumptions seem to be based most of the Onehunga/Penrose area staying industrial. Most of the area to the west of Onehunga Mall is already earmarked for mixed use and with land prices and demand the way they are it’s likely that over the medium to long term all of those will end up residential. It’s also quite likely that over time, a lot of the other commercial land in the area will be converted to residential, most likely through private plan changes. That will fundamentally change the transport demand for the area and likely the whole purpose of this project.

Neilson St Interchange – The NZTA’s predecessor originally planned to build this interchange as part of the Manukau Harbour Crossing project before revising their consent to not include it. From memory this was due to the significant impact it would have had on the area, especially the Hopua Tuff Ring and the need reclamation to accommodate it. It appears the road builders are emboldened to try again and with what appears to be very similar to what was originally proposed in 2006.

East-West - Neilson St Interchange Recomended Option

It’s also worth noting that Panuku is meant to be redeveloping the Onehunga Port area to be more people friendly just like they’ve done at the Wynyard Quarter. It remains to be seen how they’re going to make that a success when it will be cut off from the rest of the city by what is effectively a motorway and seemingly poor access for PT and active modes.

Foreshore – The impact on the foreshore where the main thing that originally inspired this post. A number of the documents referenced in the post last week made mention of it and in particular mentioned NZ Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (NZCPS). Looking at it the NZCPS it’s easy to see why they’re concerned as it basically says they shouldn’t do it. Now to be fair I haven’t read all 30 pages of the document but if you have and I’ve got parts of it wrong then please let me know in the comments. For this I’m just going to focus on a couple of sections.

  • Reclamation – As mentioned it basically says that reclamation should be avoided unless there are no other options. But that isn’t the case with the East-West project as we know that other options not only exist but also perform better economically. Here’s what the NZCPS says about reclamation:

Reclamation and de-reclamation

  1. Avoid reclamation of land in the coastal marine area, unless:
    • land outside the coastal marine area is not available for the proposed activity;
    • the activity which requires reclamation can only occur in or adjacent to the coastal marine area;
    • there are no practicable alternative methods of providing the activity; and
    • the reclamation will provide significant regional or national benefit.
  2. Where a reclamation is considered to be a suitable use of the coastal marine area, in considering its form and design have particular regard to:
    • the potential effects on the site of climate change, including sea level rise, over no less than 100 years;
    • the shape of the reclamation and, where appropriate, whether the materials used are visually and aesthetically compatible with the adjoining coast;
    • the use of materials in the reclamation, including avoiding the use of contaminated materials that could significantly adversely affect water quality, aquatic ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity in the coastal marine area;
    • providing public access, including providing access to and along the coastal marine area at high tide where practicable, unless a restriction on public access is appropriate as provided for in Policy 19;
    • the ability to remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the coastal environment;
    • whether the proposed activity will affect cultural landscapes and sites of significance to tangata whenua; and
    • the ability to avoid consequential erosion and accretion, and other natural hazards.
  3. In considering proposed reclamations, have particular regard to the extent to which the reclamation and intended purpose would provide for the efficient operation of infrastructure, including ports, airports, coastal roads, pipelines, electricity transmission, railways and ferry terminals, and of marinas and electricity generation.
  • Walking Access – As mentioned in the quote above, public access should be provided to the coastal area.  The section on walking access expands on this more and none of the reasons given for reasons to restrict public from the foreshore seem to be relevant to this project.

Walking Access

  1. Recognise the public expectation of and need for walking access to and along the coast that is practical, free of charge and safe for pedestrian use.
  2. Maintain and enhance public walking access to, along and adjacent to the coastal marine area, including by:
    1. identifying how information on where the public have walking access will be made publicly available;
    2. avoiding, remedying or mitigating any loss of public walking access resulting from subdivision, use, or development; and
    3. identifying opportunities to enhance or restore public walking access, for example where:
      1. connections between existing public areas can be provided; or
      2. improving access would promote outdoor recreation; or
      3. physical access for people with disabilities is desirable; or
      4. the long-term availability of public access is threatened by erosion or sea level rise; or
      5. access to areas or sites of historic or cultural significance is important; or
      6. subdivision, use, or development of land adjacent to the coastal marine area has reduced public access, or has the potential to do so.
  3. Only impose a restriction on public walking access to, along or adjacent to the coastal marine area where such a restriction is necessary:
    1. to protect threatened indigenous species; or
    2. to protect dunes, estuaries and other sensitive natural areas or habitats; or
    3. to protect sites and activities of cultural value to Māori; or
    4. to protect historic heritage; or
    5. to protect public health or safety; or
    6. to avoid or reduce conflict between public uses of the coastal marine area and its margins; or
    7. for temporary activities or special events; or
    8. for defence purposes in accordance with the Defence Act 1990; or
    9. to ensure a level of security consistent with the purpose of a resource consent; or
    10. in other exceptional circumstances sufficient to justify the restriction.
  4. Before imposing any restriction under (3), consider and where practicable provide for alternative routes that are available to the public free of charge at all times.

Now the reason this is important is so far the NZTA have yet to say whether provision will be made for the public to have access, like they currently – a photo essay of which can be seen here. So far from what I’ve seen the NZTA have only resorted to saying that they haven’t decided yet.

The drawings developed for the detailed business case (46MB) suggest there will be a narrow path along the seaward side of the massive reclamation as well as the existing walking/cycling path but the new path appears a fairly barren and exposed place to be – perhaps a bit like the cycleway on the causeway along SH16. You can also see the intersection for this new road with Captain Springs Rd will also require people on foot or bikes to make up to three crossings to get across this new mega road.

The drawings also highlight the massive extent of the planned reclamation. As a quick estimation, it appears to be at least 50m wide, if not wider in places and even straighter than the current foreshore which doesn’t seem to meet the requirements in the NZCPS.

It’s worth noting for these drawings the comments in the grey box which says that the “alignment is for cost estimation and to establish an indicative footprint” and that “the actual footprint and location is subject to change“. These drawings are also just a selection of what is in the document but for the foreshore are all fairly consistent.

East-West - Technical Drawing - 1

East-West - Technical Drawing - 4

East-West - Technical Drawing - 5

East-West - Technical Drawing - 9
The red part is a bridge

If this project does go ahead, it seems like a much better job needs to be done on the on the foreshore. As it stands, it appears the NZTA are going for the cheapest option available – which at $1.8 billion is not cheap.

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52 comments

  1. Thank God NZTA actually started with a vision. If the usual contributors to this blog had their way we would all be back to bullock tracks and horse and cart. Let them get on with it. I have yet to read you ripping into any of the cycling projects and bus lane additions that waste valuable road space, cause congestion and have very dubious RTOs. Is it possible to rename this blog site the Anti-car site? Seriously its much more appropriate. It is certainly not a Transport site, as that title would indicate to the casual observer that all forms of transport would be both critically acclaimed and reviewed equally. Before you get excited, be honest, balance is sadly lacking on this blog. And as for the changes in question above, yes there are engineering risks in and costs involved, and that is what challenges the architects..

    1. Could someone delete Ricardo’s post. Pretty sure it goes against policies designed to stop people moaning about the blog.

    2. 4. General moaning about the blog and its editorial direction is extremely boring. If you there are things you like and/or don’t like about the blog then put it in an email to us, rather than a comment. Or find another space more to your liking.

      5. When you are presenting an argument and/or stating an opinion, try to use clear and logical reasoning, e.g. Observation 1 + Observation 2 = Conclusion.

      6. Opinions, while welcome, are not facts, so do not assert them as such. When citing facts, commenters should always aim to provide supporting references and links, especially when asked for them.

      I think the policies are designed to discourage rather than stop… but in general moaning and opinion without facts appears to be regarded as a bit boring.

    3. “Before you get excited…”. Oh Ricardo, nobody gets excited or wound up by your posts. They just provide amusement.

      1. I actually hope Ricardo gets paid for doing this constant astroturfing. It would be such a sad thing if he really was a “pave everything, it will make our city better” believer.

          1. What “argument”?

            He claims a lack of balance and then just continues the same old rant without any facts. If I can summarise, anything that dares to challenge the car dominant status quo is “anti-car” bias (irony), followed by a reference to horses and carts. If I didn’t know better I would think he is George Wood or Dick Quax in disguise.

            I am all for counter-arguments. When you find one from him that is researched and structured as well as the posts he rages against, let me know. I won’t hold my breath.

          2. I was suggesting he better get SOMETHING out of it, because if all it is is the pleasure being contrarian on the internet… well, then he is very 21st century, but not much more.

        1. I watched a really good documentary on the dust bowls. At its worst ships in the Atlantic were getting covered in dust. One of the suggestions put forward by people in New York was to concrete over the entire great plains!

          1. There is a great history of humans concreting over historic pollution damage, and then calling that remediation!

  2. Protective NZCPS policies are bolstered by the unitary plan – have a look at the overlay maps for the area e.g. SEA Marine and Oustanding natural features overlays

    1. Just had a look at the the SEA Marine (which covers half the foreshore) and Outstanding Natural Feature which covers the Hopua Tuff Ring – this is very interesting.
      I see no way how NZTA can think this project is acceptable. The whole point of having SEA’s and areas of outstanding natural features is to protect the limited environment we have left by stopping harmful developments – especially when there are alternatives.
      There is so many challanges I don’t see how this project will ever happen and will just be a waste of tax payers money.

      Seems like there are arrogant people who think they know better than everyone else and that they are above the law – very rude and they need to be stopped to show they don’t rule the world and can’t ruin our city.

      1. Not supporting this project in this form however to call this an outstanding natural feature is a bit ridiculous! It is a shitty, polluted, dead inlet. There is nothing ‘attractive’ about it, it is shallow, muddy estuary for all intents and purposes.
        The rest of the Manukau Harbour sure, but the area inland from the harbour crossing is probably the single most unappealing piece of waterway in all of New Zealand.

        1. An expert will have decided that the crater meets the requirements of Outstanding area of natural features; if you disagree you needed to say so in the Unitary Plan feedback
          The consultation was much wider than just height of houses but included mangroves and other natural features which I for one did comment on.
          No point saying it is a ‘shitty, polluted, dead inlet’ without evidence to back it up.
          If you are referring to the SEA Marine area then this also would have had an expert classify it due to some evidence and people have had there chance to provide feedback.

          1. Should just fill that whole inlet section in and use it for housing/commercial/light industrial. Would solve a bottleneck and provide useful land fairly close to the city. If it was built reasonably densely (3 level semi-detached) then it could allow for 20,000 townhouses on 450 ha of land for example. Could even save some of it as a canal or safe beach area that is cleaned up properly. Would be easy to have a spur line for rail (actually would even provide the route to the airport). The development would more than pay for itself from the value of the land sales and Auckland would get a free route across what was part of the harbour for rail to the airport.

          2. In a sense this is the more honest approach; NZTA wish to destroy the inlet on the sly; why not be straight up and advocate a Dutch-style invention of new city proximate land and plan its transport integration properly?

            Oh that’s right, cos NZTA ignore everything outside of road building [‘we’re just highway builders’], especially land-use and place value. This is an organisation that needs a total overhaul; it at once over-reaches and under-pitches.

          3. Based on Patrick’s idea, how about building a dam at the mouth of the Manukau harbour and then pumping it dry. All the new land for housing would probably pay for the cost of housing. Building houses below sea level has happened overseas for hundreds of years, and nothing bad has ever happened.

          4. Brendan, That would be a very costly exercise and would have many negative impacts (it is nice to have a harbour there – just saying that the small inlet area is wasted space that due to it’s location would be ideal to be filled in quite easily with maximum benefits). Auckland isn’t thaaaat short of land that the whole Manukau (or even most of it) would be needed any time soon – there are better options in any case. The inlet would however be along the lines of the Dutch and would be a nice flat piece of land (pretty rare in Auckland).

        2. Yes the inlet was an anaerobic stinking cesspool that ran red at times with the effluent from the freezing works. But now it has recovered and is the home to much bird life feeding on the abundant sea life. If you want to see Auckland’s biggest Mangroves (Whangarei Sized) take a walk westward from Hugo Johnston to the car yard. Estuaries are highly productive components of our environment even a poor degraded example such as this. Can we afford to lose this productive capacity?

          1. +1 Shard.

            Niall it pretty much still is. Mangroves are a pest when they grow too big or spread too far (like a weed). I accept they have a place (albeit that until recent times in NZ history they weren’t in the Manukau and only in Northland). The harbour has plenty of mangroves throughout. It is afterall more of a giant estuary than a harbour.

      2. Yea but that is just words in a plan that really apply to the rest of us. Requiring Authorities can pretty much do anything they like as they make their own decisions, the Council only gets to make a recommendation. A Requiring Authority is the bastard child of the divine right of kings.

        1. Requiring authority status is irrelevant for reclamations. S176 powers only exist for district rules which occur on land. anything requiring a regional consent still falls under the complete auspices of Council.

  3. Again Option B for the East West Link is more than enough to deliver what is needed for the area NOW (industry) and the future (commercial and residential).

    What NZTA are proposing with Option F (the foreshore trashing motorway) does not solve the industrial complex traffic woes in the slightest, not when the motorway goes right by the complex. Option B https://voakl.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/nzta-east-west-option-b.png ticks all the boxes in better traffic movement now and for future land uses as the post alludes to, and gives better connects up at the Mt Wellington Interchange.

    Yes East West needs to happen but not the grandiose scheme NZTA are proposing.

  4. The primary issue here is the decision that it is better to significantly further violate a foreshore [the complete and total separation of it from its catchment!], than to take a relatively small amount of fairly inefficiently used industrial land, for the purpose of improving access to those very industrial properties. That is the most extraordinary thing here: Is NZTA’s environmental and moral compass still stuck at about 1955? It would seem so.

    And as it is clear that the main purpose of this project, improving road freight connections to motorways, can be achieved without a road in the inlet at all, it is even more extraordinary.

    Stage One [already out to tender] improves connection from Nielson to SH20, with a new north bound route through Galway reducing commercial traffic pressure on the western end of Nielson.
    Stage Two connects the eastern end of Nielson to SH1 south of Mt Wellington. This needn’t go via the inlet at all, but could run between the industrial sites it is designed to serve with very little land take.
    Stage Three is the needless place ruiner whose only purpose is the connecting of SH 1 + 20 that will likely complicate and congest the use of these new routes for commercial traffic with private users hoping between our two north-south motorways.

    This secondary purpose, and one without any demonstrated value, to connect SH 1 + 20, is the prime reason NZTA have ended up in the sea. Well that and their preference for a nice uncomplicated ‘greenfields’ route with only one owner and one consent to get. It is important to remember that this role of the project came from the reckons of the previous minister.

    How much of the benefits will be achieved with stages 1 + 2? Almost all of the road freight access issues. Stage 3 is superfluous, or certainly of much lower value. And given that One and Two could be delivered without touching the Inlet it is extremely difficult to see how NZTA can claim they have made any kind of case for this brutal plan, especially a There Is No Alternative one.

    Additionally, where is the completion of the 3rd rail main in this scheme? NZTA seem to have forgotten their claims of being multimodal as well as how to be good citizens with this project. After all they base their need for this work on projected increases in freight to the rail served inland port in the area, well hadn’t they be sure this increase in rail traffic can make it there, after all it’s only around $50m, a drop bucket in the context of this billion dollar+ project.

    Below; a couple of quick alternative options for Stage Two, the connecting of commercial properties and Nielson St to SH1:

    1. Your suggestions look a bit low profile. Should probably add a giant round about at the Neilson street end to get the authorities more barred up for it

    2. Patrick, I agree with much of what you say but may be go a step further. Why not propose a elevated highway right through the industrial area following the route of where the high voltage cables are now located? The cables could then be incorporated into this structure. The elevated highway would overshoot Glouster Park at the northern end to allow for a much simplifed connection with highway 20 that would not impact of access to the port or foreshore areas. Onehunga access could be provided from Onehunga Mall further simplifing this proposal over the existing one. I am also picking that the cost would be cheaper than what is mentioned by Matt going by what other viaduct/bridge projects have cost in recent years and the impact to industrial land should minimal if utilising this corridor.

    3. “and their preference for a nice uncomplicated ‘greenfields’ route with only one owner and one consent to get.”

      And given that the owner of the “greenfields” land is Auckland Council, I assume that NZTA will be thinking they can uplift the land needed from council for a pepper-corn amount like $1?

      Probably in exchange for “30 pieces of silver” to be spent by on AC’s behalf by NZTA on some even more dubious roading project elsewhere [Reeves Road flyover – looking at you].

      The industrial land that exists in Onehunga is the lowest value land – as evidenced in the activities that go on there.
      So land there can be acquired cheaply under the PWA instead of filling in the harbour, doing so won’t affect the economic output of Auckland or Onehunga much, given much of it is taken with car parks, scrap/recycling yards and other dubious “high value” [yeah right] land use.

      Of course, no one who owns industrial land in Onehunga wants to be forced to sell their to NZTA [under the PWA] for its “pre-Motorway value” and yet they all want the said motorway to have an off ramp built just for them.

      Because they know the perceived [and thus actual] land values rise muchly with proximate motorway access.

      So we have a government agency effectively in the pocket of a few industrial land holders in Onehunga.
      Who are in effect holding all of the country to ransom to pay for this motorway – instead of spending the money on much higher BCR projects elsewhere [or simply fixing up the existing road network].
      Some much higher BCR projects you ask? we how about just about every other RoNS project you could name – they’d all have a higher BCR than this one.
      And thats damning those RoNS with very faint praise.

      And all because the Transport Minister wants it to be so.

        1. Just doing what they’re told; Brown has never once questioned any project pushed by government and its agencies, no mater how poor.

          And it was on no ones future plans as recently as just a couple of years ago, not NZTA’s, not AT’s; it literally came from nowhere.

    4. “This secondary purpose, and one without any demonstrated value, to connect SH 1 + 20, is the prime reason NZTA have ended up in the sea.”

      D’you think someone needs to tip them off that “Get in the sea” is not a straight-faced suggestion?

    5. You do realise that your option calves right through the middle of the land that is designated to become part of the metroport complex (the only place in Auckland where road to rail to road transfers happen), so effectively freezing the size of the complex at a size that is currently only just big enough. Add all the freight that some think will be able to come off the roads and go on rail and the site will become useless very fast.

  5. I thought the Panuku developments were developing the Onehunga foreshore. How does this fit in with this if its dividing the suburb so much with a motorway?

    1. The recently opened Onehunga foreshore restoration project area would be such a pleasant place if it wasn’t for the roar of motorway traffic a few meters away rendering it almost a waste of time so this would be much the same along the Mangere inlet. Much like Highbrook Drive also. I wonder if there are plans for sound barriers as part of the widening of SH20 in Stage 1 of the above to help with this?

  6. The proposal feels akin to solving the problems of trucks on Quay St at the bottom of Queen St by plonking a giant motorway along the waterfront. These sorts of projects are being ripped up now of course.
    It’s a horrible vision for Onehunga.

  7. Foreshores are a limited resource and I cannot believe that the most economic use of the land is a road. What is the economic potential for this area? Once again it seems that NZTA and Co is embarrassed that Auckland has harbours and is doing everything it is power to place a barrier between our city and our harbours.

  8. I cannot believe that with Auckland’s increasing population, anyone would consider a motorway (for trucks) along any foreshore. We should look to Europe and move more goods and trucks by rail, quiet, electric, sustainable transport, and better for people to live nearby.

  9. Thanks for this very informative post. A few questions/observations:
    1) Is it too late to save the Neislon Street railway bridge? And also why are they removing it when its already 4 lanes? Also when will they start removing the railway overbridge?
    2) Is the design of the Onehunga intersection finalised? Is it still possible to get option A1 discussed here http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2015/10/27/east-west-and-gloucester-park-interchange/ and if so how much extra cost are we looking at (I’m also hopful rail can be included in the new bridge in option A1)?
    3) Where does the $1.8bn figure come from? Is it possible for a future government (say Labour/Greens) to build option B discussed here http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2015/12/03/costs-benefits-and-east-west-connections/ for $500m and redirect the money to rail to the Airport (this will fund most of the project)?

    1. It’s too late. The NZTA have decided.

      The only way to stop this is in the courts, and I would start raising the $100,000 plus it will require immediately.

      1. The only groups who would have a chance to do that would seem to be the Iwi and some Onehunga Groups, maybe. Both seem to be on-side with this, for some strange reason?

        1. Jim Jackson (Jackson Electrical) chaired the Onehunga Enhancement Society who successfully battled NZTA over the interchange last time http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/central-leader/41564/Transit-rethinks-Onehunga-interchange
          I don’t see any way that the latest concept is any better than previous, it still as an interchange bridge over SH20.
          If the project had to connect at Gloucester, the traffic could be split with connections to the western side of SH20 passing under mangere bridge, and connections to the eastern side staying on the eastern side of the motorway.
          I’d like to see heavy rail built towards the airport first thou.

  10. There are other huge risks;

    The access of the growing population centres of Otahuhu, Mangere Bridge and Onehunga to their harbour.

    The access of these people to walking and cycling routes, particularly for those who commute to either the city centre or to the airport precinct.

    The huge cost and access risk to any future rail project, light or heavy.

    It seems that this government is a lot like the Japanese Government in the 1990s, with a cargo-cult like ‘build it and the benefits will come’ attitude to major road and convention centre (but not other) infrastructure. In that case the Japanese were left with substantial stagflation and unusable debt. I fear New Zealand is repeating the same mistakes.

  11. Last week I proposed building a railway along there today I am thinking about a canal. Just joking although there is a fair body of water which moves up into the mangroves and they will need to bridge it or put it into a pipe I suppose. One thing the roads from Otahuhu to Mangere are a bit of a mess at at peak hours so I am wondering how this will effect that. I am thinking we will need bus lanes if the new transfer system at Otahuhu station is going to be any use. Although patrons could carry on to Papatoetoe station and catch a bus from there or from Onehunga would be another option.

  12. Just looking at Patricks picture. A rail siding into the car yard would be a good idea. Just follow his red line from the Westfield Southdown line.

    1. It is part of the future expansion of the metroport facility so ploughing through the middle of it will have a detrimental effect on the push to get more freight on rail.

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