If you’re anywhere near Britomart or Albert St it’s getting pretty hard to miss the works associated with the City Rail Link. The area has become a hive of activity and orange barriers as works ramp up towards actually digging the tunnel – the works on Albert St are associated with moving services before the tunnel can be built and will be for the next year or so.

One change that will be starting later this month is the construction of new entrance to Britomart on top of little carpark out the back. This is needed while work goes on to underpin the old Chief Post Office and dig the tunnels through it. AT say it will take about six months to build and will open for use in early 2017. Here’s an image of what the temporary entrance expected to look like.

Britomart Temporary Entrance

For people heading west of Britomart, like those transferring between trains and the Northern Express, this is going to be a little bit of added frustration for a few years but is obviously one of those necessary evils while we build such an important project. Here’s an older image that AT provided us some time ago.

3D view of temporary Briotmart station CRL2

One concern I do have with it is just how that footpath looks. The front of the building appears to line with the ventilation stacks either side and they don’t leave enough space for the thousands of people per hour that enter and exit the building during the peaks. It does appear that there might be some entrances on the sides to help spread the passenger volumes which will be crucial.

Once this part of the CRL is finished the main entrance will return old Chief Post Office and out to a redeveloped and QE2 Square.

Britomart Station QE2 Square

While on the CRL it’s also worth mentioning this article the other day in the herald with the three councillors who have consistently opposed and tried to stop the project giving it another go following comments from John Key that he thinks the costs will go up.

Auckland councillors want the Auditor-General to investigate the -City Rail Link’s billion-dollar costs with the Government and Auckland Transport admitting the original $2.5 billion estimate is almost certain to change.

A letter co-signed by councillors Cameron Brewer, Dick Quax and George Wood has been filed with Auditor-General Lyn Provost, requesting independent scrutiny of the country’s most expensive infrastructure project and what they say are “a number of red flags” for Auckland ratepayers.

Concerned that work on the huge underground project has begun before the final cost and agreement on how the bill will be split between ratepayers and Government have been finalised, the council trio have also cited Prime Minister John Key’s claim that the CRL will “almost certainly cost more than they thought”.

I asked AT if there was anything indications of the impacts. They provided me with the responses they also provided the herald and while they don’t give any particular detail away, they do hint at a few things.

From the answers they confirm the project is still currently expected to cost $2.53 billion and that hasn’t increased but the do say “it is almost certain to change because the design detail has yet to be completed”. That reads to me that any number of changes could happen, perhaps and in some situations the prices could also come down. While they won’t give any more details on the cost out yet, they do say it isn’t going to double like some of its opponents have been claiming, saying they were “surprised by this assumption”.

As for the Auditor General (AG), the only reason she’s been involved in the past is that the council wanted to include in their long term plan an earlier start date along with and assumption around the government’s share would eventually be approved. At the moment the government and council are meant to be deciding who pays for which parts but my guess is it will end up close to 50/50.

As I’ve said in the past, it would be nice if some other projects were subject to the same scrutiny as the CRL has by officials *looking at you East-West Link*

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42 comments

  1. Does anyone know when the Britomart section would be completed and when we can have the QEII Square? Or will it remain closed off until the whole CRL is complete?

    1. That would be 6+ years. I’d expect this to be 2-3 years max before Britomart access reverts to more or less what is there now – once the strengthening is done, and the new tunnels built as far as the Precinct building, there’d be no more need for this. But who knows whether the plaza outside will get built immediately.

      1. I’d guess that the completion date for the square is at least somewhat dependent on Commercial Bay’s programme, not much point having a shiny new square if Precinct want to rip it up three months down the track to run services after all.

  2. Would it really be that hard to still have an entrance on the Western side of Britomart during constuction?
    I think that temporary entrance is going to get overloaded and it isn’t very good for those that are heading West to NEX.

      1. Well, from the plans I have seen in the consent documentation, they are pretty much working in the entirety of the old post office building, so while it might be possible to have some sort of protected path through those works, that would mean your work would be less efficient (= more costly and longer) and that hardly seems worth it. That’s why they widened the footpaths next to the sides, after all (not for couriers and taxis to park on, though).

  3. Is this still happening, there was talk about it around February but by April there were stories that they were doing something completely different. All the Transdev crew and control facilities were being relocated there from the underground area that AT spent a significant amount of money revamping mid last year.

  4. If it has serious budget overruns, I can see them dropping K’Rd station……I’m getting a bit cynical perhaps 😉

    1. They should go with an alliance model. Then the contractor has direct financial incentive not to cost-overrun.

      1. They are, same principles as waterview. And don’t think its just about the contractor, the design teams also have skin in the game,

  5. Has AT been asked what is the maximum hourly throughput before it is necessary to close the station for safety reasons?

    And, more importantly, what modelling has been done to anticipate that throughput.

  6. The traffic light crossing on Commerce St looks like it will be a pain for crossing the road. I would have thought for such a small side st a zebra crossing would be much more efficient and simpler?

    1. Stupidly buses are still going to be routed through here, as are cars, so instead of a zebra they have a traffic light – ostensibly to allow buses to keep moving but in reality because AT just can’t bring itself to let car LOS be affected by pedestrians.

  7. Brewer is a simple man, he opposes everything, especially anything for the public good. As for Key, perhaps he’s worried it will eat into the tax cut bribe!

  8. By the 3rd quarter next year the main works construction is scheduled to be underway, so possibly by about this time next yet the tender should be awarded, and we’ll know the full cost.
    I wonder what the space in this new temporary entrance will be used for, when the work is complete?

  9. I think the picture of the plaza post-CRL works is indicative only but I hope they don’t have that kind of water feature in front of the main entrance as there’s already one at the Takutai square entrance. However I would like to see a nicely done water feature with a fountain. Many European cities have a nice water fountain as a feature of their popular central public spaces.

    Moscow has a great one (and very popular too), the horse fountain in Alexander Gardens that when I was there in mid-summer 2013 was being used by heaps of people having fun, and staying cool amongst the hottest temperatures the city had had in over 100 years. My friend and I just propped ourselves at the top and gazed down for about 20 minutes enjoying the happy scene of people having fun with their friends or just relaxing. Not that I’m saying I want a big statue of three horses just that a decent-sized fountain would be a nice feature IMHO of the new plaza. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwqmEXtPbAI

    1. I don’t think Auckland has ever had a day hot enough to justify it for that purpose. But it will look nice.

    2. QEII Square had a fountain, but that got bowled so that horrible bus depot could be built. It’s a shame it wasn’t reinstated somewhere nearby.

  10. I hope we get that space back again where the new entrance is going when construction is complete. I have a fear we may be losing some of it in our downtown area.

      1. Proposals for that space might one day make you wish for the days when this “glasshouse” was they only thing there.

      1. Why is this entrance temporary? Is the britomart development redeveloping out that way soon? Would be good to have nice entrances on both sides of the building.

        1. They plan to reinstate the carpark as it currently…..bizarrely. Typical rebuild the status quo autopilot that is seen so often in AT. Can’t lose those carparks.

    1. Certainly is a waste of funds, ridiculous that anything is spent on the one or two people arriving/leaving by train at Britomart. Should spend the money on sealing roads in Rodney or something aye….

  11. Do I understand correctly then that the crossing will only be operational once this temporary entrance is built? It’s become incredibly difficult to conveniently cross Commerce St to Britomart with buses routed down there and while a zebra crossing would have been preferable the non-operational but installed lights are just a tease!

    1. A zebra would mean near impossible for a bus to travel through with all the peds once front closed. Hence the lights.

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