The East-West Link feels a lot like the preverbal snowball rolling down a slope, constantly gathering momentum as it simultaniously gets bigger and bigger in scale, cost and the NZTA’s haste to get started. A month ago and based on documents received from an OIA, I wrote about how the cost of the project had ballooned from an estimated $550-660 million when the government gave the go ahead to accelerate its construction up to now $1.8 billion and presumably still climbing.

I’ve also written about some of the main risks the NZTA see for the project, including the biggest of them, getting consent to reclaim a massive chunk of foreshore. They’re looking to claim so much the new four lane, expressway standard road will be completely built on what is currently water.

Shortly after the second post the NZTA announced they were conducting another round of consultation on the design of the project, prior to lodging resource consent through the Board of Inquiry process.

The public are being given another opportunity to have their say on one of Auckland Council and the Government’s top priority transport projects in Auckland.

The latest round of consultation is getting underway on the design for the East West Link project which is a significant step in the project’s planning and consenting process.

That consultation closes today so if you want to have a say about the project, make sure you do fairly quickly.

Here are some of the graphics associated with the consultation. First up an overview of what they say are the key design features.

East West - features - June 16

One aspect I wasn’t aware of is that this would also include a new interchange at Princes St. It looks like they want and additional traffic lane in each direction between the Tamaki River and Mt Wellington so need to replace the whole interchange. This document takes a look at the current interchange while below is what they want from a new interchange. It appears the last few houses between Frank Grey Pl and the motorway next to the interchange will be sacrificed to the motorway gods.

East-West - New Princes Interchange

At the Onehunga end they conveniently highlight the area that Panuku Development Auckland is meant to be putting effort in to see some urban regeneration but which they then ram a heap of roads through. The Onehunga Wharf which could be a great development opportunity is like an island, cut off from the rest of the area by the new and wider roads planned.

East-West - Onehunga-Neilson St

Then of course there is the Northern Mangere Inlet Foreshore, their current state images showing the reclamation to date was mainly by way of landfill, one of the reasons they say want to reclaim further to fix. By contrast the concept images show a walking and cycling path along a new foreshore with stormwater treatment ponds along a more natural looking foreshore, although it’s not clear if it’s just a series of fairly similar sized and shaped bumps relatively evenly spaced apart.

East-West - Foreshore Concept

They say they’re hoping to lodge the resource consent in December this year so that the decision will be made by about October next year with construction starting by the end of 2018.

Once again, if you want to have a say about the designs, make sure you do so.

While on the topic of the East-West link, I attended a media briefing the other day with AT talking about some of things they’re working on. Most of the discussion was on items regular readers of the blog will likely be fairly very familiar with but on one of the points was about the East West project. What intrigued me was the new red line that’s appeared showing the South Eastern Arterial. and something else entirely. Is the real reason for the Reeves Rd flyover decision just about making this route a motorway so people from the Pakuranga to Howick area can get to the airport with as few traffic lights as possible.

Presumably this would need to be a tunnel given it will be passing through a regional park. How many extra billions would something like this cost?

East West - Hamlins Hill Route

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  1. So with the detail it does appear that at least a reasonable portion of this projects costs relate to upgrading SH1 and SH20. Call that $400m. That still leaves the rest of the project costing over $1B which is unacceptable! If they can build 2x 3 lane tunnels under Avondale for a similar distance then how the hell can this possibly cost so much?! It is a shallow inlet being filled in, not the Tasman Sea!

    1. They have to include that SH1 widening as part of the project as that is necessary to stop the new road from stuffing it up even more. Also based in likes of Lincoln Rd will be more like $100m.

  2. It’s not even clear to me how you’ll get from the new road onto SH20 if you’re heading towards the Airport.

    What a waste of money and a criminal lack of oversight and scrutiny of this project. I hope it gets rejected in the consenting process like what happened to the Basin Reserve.

    1. You’ll go over the new bridge over SH20 (it goes in both directions) then make a left turn down the onramp loop back around to SH20

  3. Will there be pedestrian and cycling access over the railway line at Southdown to great south road.The first map looks as though that the recreational trail still terminates on Hugo Johnston road.

  4. Are NZTA correct on their website when they say “The design maintains and provides for Auckland Transport’s future rail to the airport. “

  5. No Brendon, that statement is completely incorrect. The ‘enabling’ works for east West will demolish the bridge over the rail corridor on Neilson Street. I suppose they would put in a level crossing but that’s suboptimal to be fair.

    1. Why do they have to demolish the bridge at all? Leave it as is.

      The consultation process was so secretive even many transport boffins here didn’t know about it let alone the general public

    2. The old freight corridor to the Onehunga port was never part of the airport plan, the placement of the Onehunga station showed that (it was never wide enough anyway).

      1. Actually it was, they had two concepts for where Onehunga station would be sited. One where it ended up, and the other along Princes St. The latter was the option that allowed for continuation to the airport, however it required additional property purchases with significant extra expense. But in the end they worked out it would be cheaper to build the station where it is and relocate it in the future, than to buy the extra land that wouldn’t be needed for a decade or two ahead.

        1. If it was really about timing of land acquisition why did they acquire the current site (the old Carters site) when it would not be needed in the future? They didn’t use the Princess st option due to it’s distance from the Town centre showing there was not any intention at the time to follow the old freight corridor with any possible future expansion.

        2. They took the Carters site because they were convinced they needed to build a large parking lot. So the Carters site was to be acquired in either case, the Princes St required more land also and yes it wasn’t as visible to the town centre (although arguably just as close).

          The whole Onehunga line was done on a shoestring. The first platform wasn’t even long enough for a 3 car EMU, although they did always plan to extend it when necessary.

          At the end of the day a lot of what AT does is necessarily short term, they simply don’t have the budget or mandate to build for decades into the future. All of the airport heavy and light rail options then and now use the old freight corridor. I find it peculiar for you to say they didn’t plan to use it when they did, and still do.

        3. Yeah to think there is some grand conspiracy is the mistake here; both AC and AT lack grand plans and high visions rather than are governed by big secret ones. A great deal of making do with limited budgets and fitting in with conflicting pressures is more the case. Realpolitik.

          Take this East-West boondoggle for example; one well resourced arm of the state, NZTA, is charging ahead with plans that will completely compromise, to the point of hopelessness, the task given to another public body; Panuku, to regenerate the area by connecting the land to the harbour. This is typical. NZTA have the bigger battalions so will win this competition and Panuku will have to squeeze in around it, and will largely be unable to achieve its outcomes.

          AT will fall in behind NZTA, as the little brother is prone to do, and anyway AT is not at all as sensitive to place outcomes as it is to movement ones. This imbalance is regrettable [currently it seems to forget it is a creature of AC, at least as much, if not more, than NZTA].

        4. Nick the Onehunga line was done on a shoestring with no future planning (Onehunga was never a passenger line and never will be a successful one), the platform did not fit a 3EMU as there was no plans at that time to use anything other than the ADLs that run it from day one. The parts of the corridor that are wide enough to be double tracked have had the line laid directly down the centre effectively ruining any chance of future expansion. There are large pockets of land owned by Kiwirail further down Princess St that would have fitted not only the station but a far bigger park and ride facility. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that this corridor was intended to be anything more than it is and with it averaging only 20 odd pax per train it looks like the white elephant the opponents of the wasteful spending at the time said it would be.

          When the Avondale to Southdown line is required (if the port moves north) the current line will be severed around the Alfred st crossing leaving the rest to wither and die.

        5. So the port will always be where it is or move south? If the port is to move to Northport (or to another option to the north west of Auckland) where the next Mayor would like it to go (going by current polls Phil Goff is a shoe in for Mayor) the Avondale to Southdown line will be needed to leave sufficient slots for commuter trains from the west.

        6. It is extremely unlikely to head north. North Island import/export demand and growth is concentrated in a triangle formed by AKL-HAM-TAU. And the balance of the AKL demand is south AKL and shifting southwards with the balance of warehousing and industry.

          Marsden is a long way and on the wrong side of a big bottleneck, Auckland City and isthmus, to serve this efficiently. Which isn’t to say it’s going away, but it is extremely unlikely to become the primary replacement of the current Waitemata port. Also, unlike AKL-TAU, coastal shipping is the competitive mode for redistribution form Marsden as the land routes are long, indirect, and the aforementioned bottleneck ain’t going away, so hacking an effective new freight corridor through suburban AKL is unlikely even if Marsden grows.

          Even though multiple billions are being thrown at the road route north, the talk about this being ‘for Northland’ is nonsense. Much smaller targeted investments would be more effective. Happily this one is happening:

        7. They will never build the Avondale Southdown line, the reason for it is gone. And they will never move the port north of Auckland. South perhaps, but not north. There is zero logic in having a port on the wrong side of Auckland from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

          I don’t quite follow your logic on the Onehunga branch, yes the built the track and stations cheap. No they didn’t pre-build parts of an airport line that may or may not happen in the coming decades. That doesn’t mean they aren’t considering using the corridor. (Hint: a corridor is much more that tracks!).

  6. Anyone got a model submission? Looks like a rather destructive and super-expensive plan to me but haven’t been following closely enough to say anything very informed, so would appreciate a help!

  7. It’s a shame the map of the Princes St interchange is so vague. NZTA’s predecessors completely stuffed it up the last time they applied their collective wisdom to this interchange, and they look like they’re about to do it again. Still, I suppose that will justify bulldozing yet another bunch of houses in 10 years time when they come back for another try.
    And as for some dotted line over a regional park? If that is what the freight lobby wants then that is what the freight lobby will get. I just wish they’d stop blathering about contributing to the world’s most liveable city.

    1. The dotted line appears to be a future possible link to the south eastern highway. The southeastern highway and the current Princess street interchange are both example of its better to do something (anything) now than to wait a little and do it properly.

  8. Surely this can’t get resource consent? Would the public really allow a motorway to be built on a foreshore these days?
    I wonder if this is the classic NZTA trick; propose something worse than they want and then ‘compromise’ to what they wanted in the first place.

      1. I actually wondered about that too. Although, naively, my first thought (hope?) was that someone at NZTA was deliberately going over the top so this thing would be wiped out completely at the environment court stage…

        But, honestly. Its 2016. Are we really considering in-filling a harbor to lay down a 4-lane inner-city highway (for trucks)?

    1. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard a clamour of disapproval from the citizens of Onehunga. I suppose they’ve been sucked into thinking they will get something better. Not sure what is better about a 4-lane motorway next to your dog-walking path/cycleway but never mind.
      And this is one of the better options: some of the previous ones wheeled out were even worse. Really.

      1. …yeah they’ve had the urban designers and landscapers in to at least ameliorate the hideous engineering-only earlier iterations. Including the obvious flip of the coastal order, with humans on seaward side now [really, what planet do highway engineers come from?]. But as you say there’s still the highway severing the coast off from the whole of Onehunga, and that coastal walkway will have the atmosphere of motorway… and the wharf is still now entirely severed….

        1. I would be very surprised if the cycle/walkway is developed on the seaward side. Dollars to donuts they will run out of money before getting round to that unnecessary amenity.

        2. Will be a consent requirement. Some of those pushing the project are those behind the Onehunga foreshore project. They see a new road as a way if getting more foreshore here

        3. Maybe the people of Onehunga most of which live far from the coastal walkway don’t care about the difference between a four lane road and a line of industrial properties between them and the coastal walkway.

        4. You would think that Panuku would.

          Its going to make any development of that area, as planned, a but futile….

      2. Donna: As an Onehunga Citizen, yes we do care about this, that said I haven’t heard a word out of our Dennis Crum and Onehunga Improvement. I get more information here than from AT, NZTA. Yes submissions close today yet there hasn’t been a single mail drop, article in the community new etc about it. It feels like revenge from NZTA for making them finally put the other bit of foreshore back. Who knows when they will finally build the replacement for the old Mangere bridge. That too has gone very very quiet.

        As for Panuku, they are starting to fell like the’ve been handed a dead duck, Its Lets pacify Onehunga with a promise of a wonderful wharf area and while they are distracted lets grab whats left of the foreshore.

    2. Yes they’re really worried about consent for it but it’s what they’re going for as the business community have convinced them they need a route that doesn’t take any existing land

      1. Plus there’s all those yummy pricey roading contracts. As well (more seriously) I understand the existing land is heavily polluted and contains asbestos so they won’t be digging it up or building on it any time soon. The question surely is whether Auckland needs a gazillion dollar motorway here at all.

        1. They found asbestos just east of Southdown when that train derailed a few years ago.

    3. yes absolutely. If there is no room then why not, I am sure as part of any reclamation that any effects will need to be mitigated and we will end up with a better result than what is there now. The area of reclamatioin is peanuts in the scale of things. I m glad that they will be spending the money to provide a proper link.

  9. While PT advocates argue back-and-forth over what sort of hypothetical rail to build to the airport etc, meanwhile out there in the real world this misguided monstrosity is what they’re actually intending to build.

    Memo to all: Change the government urgently. They are the drivers of this..

      1. Greens-Labour of course.

        Then you could whinge about how this whole “High speed rail to Hamilton AND rail to Airport AND a Dominion Road Light Rail Route AND a Northwestern Busway” will cause the end of western civilization, and increase your rates.

        1. I’m not against high-speed rail to Hamilton, I just know it can’t be done with the current infrastructure.
          I’m a supporter of rail (heavy rail) to the airport, just not via Onehunga.
          I can’t see how LR will fit on Dominion rd so would prefer to see the buses given proper priority.
          I believe the NW busway is a complete waste, it should be rail. I have preference for HR creating a second western line to take in the growth areas in the west and maybe even out to Kumeu (that is too far via the current rail line to the city). LR could suit especially if LR becomes the preference for the shore with a link via Hobsonville to Albany.
          I also see roads as being part of a fully integrated system, local freight does not get delivered by having more trains at the expense of adequate roads.

          I have no issues with rates increases, I do have an issue with seeing how the council wastes what we pay now while telling us it needs more.

          By the way NZ First is the only viable option to the current government (if Winston can be trusted) it just comes down to which way he goes as they do not have the numbers to be anything more than a support party.

        2. “I can’t see how LR will fit on Dominion rd”

          AT have a really good page showing this on their main website. Maybe you could go take a look?

        3. only if you believe what AT say. there is no way an additional light rail line can be shoehorned into dominion road without wrecking the place.

        4. If I had a bazillion dollars to burn on some kind of real life SimCity experiment, a second western line would be a fun prospect to consider. Deviating from Mt Eden, under/over/through Eden Terrace and Kingsland to the NW m’way corridor and all the way to Kumeu to re-join the NAL. Freight via the ASL and Swanson. It could provide another pair of arms to the CRL2 concept previous proposed by this blog. Shore-Airport, East-West and South-NW. Mt Eden would have to become something of a Super-Newmarket to carry it, though. Great way to spend an imaginary bazillion dollars!

          Compared to that, running LRT up Dominion Rd is mere child’s play. I’m confident that AT will demonstrate the feasibility of that idea with ease over the next few years.

      1. Well given the current cycle way is well used, especially in weekends and it currently ends in the middle of no were at Hugo Johnson drive!

        An extension through to Silva Park will add more connectivity to it and is actually a good idea. A problem at the moment is a night mare for any one working wanting in Mt Wgtn carbine Road Area to cycle to work from Onehunga, Hillsborough, Royal Oak, as you have to get across Great south road, under the motorway and then navigate the Mt Wgtn highway.

        1. Yes it’s connectivity to, through as well as to the Train station. Caught train there with son on Sunday to visit quay st last week.

  10. While it wouldn’t be pretty, wouldn’t a raised motorway directly over Neilson street be a significantly cheaper option?

  11. $1.8 billion and climbing? We could easily build the fast, modern, Airport Rail line extension from Onehunga and probably have some change left over (just don’t let AT planners work out the costings because they’ll gold plate everything – as we have seen with their Airport Rail and Huapai rail reports).

    1. Rail to the airport via Onehunga is only any good for those in central Auckland to get to and from the airport (probably the ones least likely to use it), going via Otahuhu opens it up to most of Auckland and makes it easier to use it to commute to work around the airport and from Mangere to other parts of Auckland.
      Huapai rail has the issues of the Waitakere tunnels width and height, too narrow for escape on foot in emergency and too low for OLE to use electric trains. A further issue is the distance by train vs the distance by road to the CBD (SH16 is by far a straighter line from point to point).

  12. 6 houses to go for the new Princes St interchange…. not a huge number, nothing like they did for Waterview but NZTA continuing to remove housing in AKL, in the midst of the housing crisis… moving around with nowhere to go.

    On the issue of multi-modality, why does this massive and very confused road-fest not include funding to complete the Third Main on the NIMT? Our ‘Transport Agency’ is supposed to be all multi-modal these days, and the claimed ‘need’ for all this is freight movement especially to and from the PoT inland port at Onehunga… why provide for more trucks to move containers but not for the trains to deliver them there in the first place?

    Also, it is telling that this entire project is about driving containers from Onehunga south again, having just railed them north [note south facing ramps onto SH1 only]. How about moving MetroPort further south to integrate with the warehousing in south AKL, and to a site already adjacent to the NIMT and SH1? Preferably south of the crowded passenger train activity.

    Transport investment in service of Land-use….

    1. There is a proposal going to government involving the third main before the end of the month, the issue of bringing containers in from Tauranga is nothing compared to the issues involved in the distribution from the Onehunga site (not only the PoT inland port but also the only road to rail transfer point for long haul freight in Auckland).

        1. South within Auckland or south of Auckland? Either way you then put more pressure on the southern motorway (easily blow that $1.85B and some having to upgrade it) with trucks having to get to and from this new place (wherever you think is a good place) as they will still need to distribute the freight all around Auckland.

      1. That’s a fallacy. We just nee truck lanes o existing motorways; they should be for freight before SOVs.

        The reason for south is cos that’s where the warehousing and distribution is based. Note that new road above has south facing links to SH1. It is specifically designed to facilitate trucking stuff south after it has been trained north: Daft as a brush. Investigate moving hub south to make major road movements more efficient before blowing $2b on new roads.

        1. Warehousing and distribution is based in the south like Onehunga, Penrose, Mt Wellington, Mangere, Wiri and East Tamaki. Any further south and the distribution and collection within Auckland and Northland is adversely effected and any further north and the distribution and collection south of Auckland is adversely effected. The inland port is right where is needs to be now we just need better access to it.

    2. Yes the whole issue we have is because the distribution & warehousing network all straddles a narrow piece of land & has effectively moved south I guess over time around the water areas. If you could start again I guess you might plonk a bit fat area in East Tamaki and south of it (except need a rail line there) or perhaps west of Wiri giving good access to existing rail & also two motorways & the airport. The Onehunga area should be all made more residential/mixed used zoning. Instead we a trying to straddle SH1, waterways and housing.

      1. That may be so but there is what is effectively a truck motorway right alongside just to destroy the piece and quiet.

  13. Who ever put that red dashed line through Hamlin’s Hill Regional Park…you take that back now!….don’t make me come over there….It’s our Park and you can get you filthy greedy eyes off of it. It will be over my dead body the day you put another bloody motorway through there. Thanks

  14. Is there a reason why there is a focus on putting more traffic into the “Onehunga Junction” (*) area? All these are busy non-arterial roads already. Pushing more traffic output towards the center of Onehunga seems counter-productive.

    (*) Onehunga Mall, Selwyn, Neilson, Arthur, Grey, etc.

    Has there been any thought to shifting the interchange towards Captains Springs. Push traffic away from the center, shorten the distance for the Penrose, Onehunga business traffic to the primary on/off ramps.

    1. NZTA show no sign of understanding landuse as a dynamic and changing thing. Or at least they seem only to be interested in representing it in ways to support stuff they want to build. They consistently get the cart before horse. I suppose this is somewhat inevitable for a transport agency, but then because of this where are their checks and balances? So blithely throwing $1.85 billion at a place to constrain its future for ever in a narrow landuse that already appears to be moving elsewhere?

      NZTA feels too much like it is led by project teams and not enough by strategic ones…..?

      1. Seems to be a complex mixed message at the moment. Auckland via the council is saying they want to increase the population capacity of Onehunga Town with terraced housing and residential development on the foreshore.

        While NZTA are saying, we are going to dehumanise the area with a badly design traffic system.

        It is likely complex to plan patterns with the SW motorway, Neilson St, Mt Albert Road, Royal Oak roundabout and Mt Smart Road traffic triangle. But it would seem clear to me that the Onehunga Mall axis is a strong urban center for which you should pull traffic away from. Not add too.

        It’s a shame I didn’t get a chance to make a submission.

  15. It is a real shame as the current walk/cycle track behind Waikaraka Park is quiet and peaceful, being well away from the noisy road. The illustrations for this stretch of coast after development leave no such screening and what should be a peaceful, tranquil waterside habitat to enjoy on a weekend walk will loose all its charm. There needs to be separation embankments and plantings to screen off the road from the new wetland areas. When I walk through these areas I don’t wish to see or hear the road. They did a reasonable job of this at Taumanu Reserve and it needs repeating along this stretch of the Manukau Inlet.

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