One of the projects that has come into the spotlight again recently is the Mill Road corridor project. At the moment it is split into two key projects, though each contains several distinct sections:

  1. Mill Road North – This is the project that bizarrely topped the RLTP priority list, despite costing over $500 million. The norther section of this is actually along Redoubt Road & involves capacity upgrades to the existing road, partially to cope with growth in Flat Bush. The southern section is basically a de-facto expressway with two viaducts and a largely offline realignments from Redoubt Rd to a paddock in Popes Rd (Takanini);
  2. Mill Road South – Between Popes Rd all the way to Pukehoke via Drury. The RLTP costed the two seperate Takanini to Drury sections at $700 million alone. Given it is another 10km plus to Pukekohe, this will probably cost about as much money again.

This could put the total cost of the project at an astounding $2 billion, possibly much more given further required arterial road connections. Therefore a very high degree of scrutiny is required of the reasoning for each section of the project.

TFUG – South – Mill Rd Corridor is number 7

The reason this project is in the spotlight is that it was a major transport campaign promise for Auckland by the National Party during the election. This would have seen the government take over the project from Auckland Transport. It is still being lobbied for very hard for by local National MP’s, one of whom is now the opposition spokesperson for transport and has started a petition to get it built.

I think the Mill Rd corridor needs upgrading, but it would be remiss if we didn’t go into the many flaws of the project, mainly around the northern section which is fixable.

De Facto Expressway

The big problem I have is the cost which is between $800 million to $1 billion. This is caused by the fact the current design is a de facto expressway with major offline realignments, as well as two viaducts. It seems like Auckland Transport is trying to do a RoNS of their own! Interestingly just like some of the RoNS, this also has a major impact on a significant stand of native bush, and was subject to an appeal by Forest & Bird amongst others.

New proposed Mill Rd Viaduct parallel to existing Mill Road

Just like many RONS projects, the existing corridor has many issues including safety. I question if the project needs to be so gold plated, and I feel we could fix much of the problem by upgrading the existing road to more suburban arterial level than an expressway. This could be done in a more staged manner, and save many hundreds of millions of dollars, while actually delivering important safety improvements.

Also again, what is with AT’s obsession with flush medians. Seriously I am half expecting the Dominion Rd Light Rail design to have a flush median between the two tracks! So strange having wide flush medians, where there are no driveways, just a pointless added cost!

Poor Cycle Design

There are also issues with some of the more detailed design areas of the proposal, with one of them being the cycle infrastructure proposed. The cycling is well behind what it should be for an upgrade of this size. The following is a typical cross section for the high speed rural section.

  1. Why are protected cycle lanes not included? The cross sections show 2.0m cycle lanes plus a 0.6m buffer. On a residential street this would be acceptable, but on a road which will be 80 or 100kmh, paint only separation is just not acceptable;
  2. The wide corner radii on side streets means that speeds on and off side streets will be high, which is not good for walking or cycling;
  3. Instead of making the cycle lanes protected they also add a shared path on one side for vulnerable users. Here is a better idea, just do it properly!;
  4. The roundabouts here will be dangerous for those walking and cycling, especially with the turning radii conducive to speed as well double stacking lanes. To be honest in this high-speed environment even a Dutch at grade cycling design would not be safe, and given the roundabouts are being built from scratch surely grade separation of cycling/traffic should be strongly considered;
Mill Road Roundabout

Bus Infrastructure

The project talks about bus infrastructure but this doesn’t need a Mill Rd Expressway to do. It feels like PT wash to make the project sound more multi-modal. No bus services are proposed along most of the corridor, and it is not a sensible place to run buses given the street network. The improvements referred to below all occur in the urban section of the corridor closest to Manukau City Centre, where changes are welcome but only cost a small fraction of the major changes further south.

  • Public transport improvements to the Mill Road Corridor will provide more frequent and more reliable public transport services. Bus priority facilities will be provided at the Hollyford Drive/Redoubt Road intersection, including a dedicated right turn lane for buses turning out of Hollyford Drive into Redoubt Road.
  • A new west-bound bus lane is proposed between Hollyford Drive and SH1 intersection. The proposed bus lane will allow buses to travel unimpeded between Hollyford Drive and Diorella Drive, and between Diorella Drive and the motorway.

Future Urban Land Supply

The latest Future Urban Land Supply Strategy has pushed back live zoning the future urban zone of Takanini until the 2040s due to flood risk. This makes it basically the last area in the whole of Auckland that’s sequenced for greenfield growth. Given that supporting the growth of Takanini was the original key driver for the project, now that the area it is serving isn’t set to grow until much later, it now seems truly bizarre for this project to remain such a high priority.

Importantly, the priority for much of this corridor should be much lower than other areas, where infrastructure is needed to support growth happening now.

The Big Issue – How do they connect?

This is the major issue with this project, and that it has not been explained is how the two projects will actually connect because there is a built-up area in-between. The map at the start indicates the plan is to upgrade Dominion Rd (there’s one in Papakura too), which makes sense as that is the only clear way to get from the north to the south between the two projects.

I guess this is the classic engineers trick, build two easy ends of something and people will inevitably ask for the middle to be done.

How do you get from one side to the other

Dominion Road is currently a normal quiet residential street. Running a 4 lane expressway down this road would be a truly awful outcome for anyone living on the street or in the wider neighbourhood. This is something we would do in the 1970’s, but is not acceptable any more. Linking to Dominion Road will also likely demolition of dozens of brand new houses, which are seen on the aerial map above as the new street network, where houses have since been built.

Dominion Road today (streetview)

An alternate solution

Again the solution, is similar to ones proposed for some of the RoNS projects. Mill Road should be staged as a variety of smaller projects, as it does not need to be done all at once. As long as the corridor itself is protected from encroachment, and smart property purchases where needed over time, future options can be preserved while short term improvements are made.

I personally think the best way to go about the corridor is for 2018 – 2028 period (first decade)

  1. Upgrade the Redoubt/Murphys section of the corridor (Closer to the Manukau/Flat Bush growth area), however, scale it down a bit as there are just too many lanes for a residential area;
  2. Smart safety upgrades on the existing Mill Rd between Murphys Rd and Papakura. This could include rumble strips, shoulder widening, curve easements, and potentially median barriers where appropriate;
  3. The Drury section connecting the industrial area south of Papakura to the Ramarama interchange should procced given the proposed heavy industrial area near the quarry (Drury South Crossing), the planned greenfield growth, and existing industrial and development east of Papakura. This is being funded through the Special Purpose Vehicle created last year;
  4. Safety upgrades for the existing SH22 between SH1 and Pukekohe including any level crossing removals.

Post-2028 – Second or Third Decade

  1. Consider extensions towards to Pukekohe if upgrading SH22 doesn’t make sense;
  2. Upgrade Murphys Road – Papakura section (including Dominion Road) to be major suburban arterial standard.

So in summary something needs to be done about the Mill Road corridor, but some major changes are required to focus effort on solving urgent safety & congestion issues, reduce impacts on existing areas and ensure limited budgets are used efficiently. So we propose:

  1. Needs best practice cycling infrastructure;
  2. To be staged over a much longer period of time with focus on important areas and safety first, we can protect the corridor for the future it doesn’t need to be done all at once;
  3. To bring the cost down by upgrading the existing corridor into a more suburban arterial corridor instead building a gold-plated offline new expressway, some sections may potentially warrant this treatment such as the Ramarama – Pukekohe section, but most of the corridor doesn’t;

For more information including pictures of the project can be found here.

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112 comments

    1. On a new road it doesn’t make sense to build an on road cycle lane anyway (since typically they are built the same as the road). Much cheaper, better and safer to build an offline one since a bit of concrete is a lot cheaper than building an entire road base designed for carrying trucks.

      1. Yes it hardly uses the economic advantage of cycling infrastructure, which is that it can use a far less resource-intense pathway than a truck-ready road does. The cycling infra here should be a completely separate path on a different route.

    2. As a local resident who went to the open days its clear that the current cycle design is only in draft form. This is what we were told. The next stage of the design is the detailed design and you will find a more comprehensive design at this point which will be very different to what you see here. To comment on this draft design like you have, and assuming that this is what will be built is a waste of time, energy and emotion.

      1. Safety audits, including for cycling and walking, are supposed to be done at concept, scheme, detailed design and post-construction stages. Cycling and pedestrian design is supposed to be done at the earliest stages so that major costly re-design of the roading isn’t required later just to achieve a simple safety concept that could have been designed for from the start.

        If you get an opportunity to point out to the AT engineers that they haven’t followed either best practice or the recommendations of their own safety experts, that would be great.

        1. As I said, I live in the area and have had many meetings and lots of communication with AT on this. The main purpose of the scheme design is to get the designation approved. I was told there is no point designing everything to the finished detail when you have no designation. It’s a waste of money. The cross section you are referring to gives a generous corridor width to enable a variety designs to be completed. Now there is a confirmed designation they can start on the real design which would have been a waste if the designation wasn’t confirmed. Makes sense to me. Safety audits would no doubt follow the process that there is room in the corridor to allow for a variety of future designs so no costly re designs are required. All very logical to me.

          1. It may seem logical to you but it is just the traffic engineers at AT refusing to take on board best practice cycling design.

            For the Waterview Connection and Shared Path, the first safety audit done was after it was nearly complete. The engineer reviewing it made 4 minor comments, 8 moderate comments and 26 significant comments, and used words like “another diabolical design” and “serious safety concerns” and “another hazard to cyclists”.

            Cycleway design is fundamentally different to roading design, and needed to be done in parallel. Only the roads-first car-bias that we can’t shake from AT prevented this from happening. AT has fantastic safety engineers who could have been involved from the start.

          2. Apologies to NZTA. I went back to check, and the first safety audits for the Waterview Connection involving cycling were done at the preliminary design stage, It was good they were, as the safety engineers had to remind the designers to design according to the correct design guides, and to provide longitudinal sections, etc.

          3. What wasting of money? They have included a cycle design in their concept already. Why throw that away and start again at the detailed design stage? The concept stage should default to including bog standard best practise cycle lanes.

            If during detailed design phase you find this is not feasible and you need to downgrade fine, but why start a concept with something you plan to throw away?

      2. I’m quite happy with my expenditure of time energy and emotions, thanks for caring.

        It’s perfectly reasonable to comment of the level of detail shown. The choice of cycling infrastructure type (On road/off road, protected/unprotected) is very much a concept design level choice. If they make significant changes at detailed design, great but they will be changing the cycling design concept.

        1. “If they make significant changes at detailed design, great but they will be changing the cycling design concept.”
          Yes they will be. Great isnt it.

  1. Something is needed in this part of Auckland. Traffic around the takanini straight is diabolical in rush hour. But I am unsure if the Mill Road project is the solution.

    There are a number of issues they are trying to solve including:

    Traffic congestion

    Safety- Mill Road has a high accident rate

    Improve bus realibily- around redoubt Road the buses frequently get stuck in traffic

    Plus add Cycleway.

    One of the public meetings I attended said that one of the aims (or benefits -not sure how they couching the argument) was to improve use of Totara Park. ( Maybe it was the benefit of having large S/W ponds there?).

    I raised the problem about the large roundabouts being dangerous to cyclist/pedestrians but the reply was it was designed to best practice.

    The other options they presented as alternatives were not particularly good.

    I feel that the route should be future Proof for light rail between Karaka/papakura/botany (with links to the rail network at papakura). But at the same time the upgrade the southern line so there is a direct link to Manukau and another station at/near Southgate to serve Anderson development. If they can use the public works act to take houses they can use it to take land from Kiwirail.

    Perhaps with these changes the impact of the project can be reduced.

    1. “I raised the problem about the large roundabouts being dangerous to cyclist/pedestrians but the reply was it was designed to best practice.”

      AT, are you reading? Are you embarrassed?

      1. Why would they be embarrassed? My last communication with them was the roundabouts were likely to be signalised intersections due to the time it will take to design and build the project. A roundabout has a larger footprint that a signalised intersection so gives greater flexibility in the design process. As I said before everyone is getting so emotional about scheme designs which will look nothing line the final design. I repeat that to comment on this draft design like you have, and assuming that this is what will be built is a waste of time, energy and emotion.
        AT will be doing more public engagement as the project proceeds an I for one will be getting fully engaged in this process so my thoughts are heard.

        1. They claimed the design is best practice, that is every reason to be embarrassed. If they explained that the design was a placeholder to allow for maximum land designation then there wouldn’t be any reason for embarrassment.

          1. I knew that because I have been involved in the process but I do get what you’re saying. Unfortunately the whole process has been hijacked to create this very article. Don’t you think it’s the obligation of the author to be impartial? The article is written to wind people up and that’s exactly what has happened. The author is the one who should be explaining the level of design. It’s the author who is anti-Mill Rd project and the article is written in this way. Can you imagine if the article was truthfully and said this is a specimen design to give AT the designation required to complete the final design which will have a public process for people to comment on through the design? There would be no story and minimal comments. Its typical journalism and we’ve all been played. Its almost funny really if it wasn’t wasting everyone’s time

          2. If you look at what has been budgeted for this project then it is clear that this is more than just a finger in the air designation design. While they may well be able to change intersection and cycleway design as a result of consultation, I can’t see the project being scaled back from being an expressway with viaducts on a new right of way to a much cheaper project on the existing road just based on consultation.

            I think you might have been the one played if you think that is something that could realistically happen. This article raises some very valid concerns about the scale of this project.

          3. Of course the project won’t be scaled back from an arterial road (was never nor will ever be an expressway, doesn’t meet the definition but is very emotive). The two bridges on the new alignment were the cheapest option than trying to upgrade the existing road. To cater for future bus lanes we need four lanes. To have safer intersections we need to re align these. A cheaper road on the existing alignment is just pushing out the real problem into the future while saving no money at all.
            The concerns aren’t about the road at all but the need for the road. Council approving thousands of houses, yet no one wants to address this problem. Too funny.

          4. Whether it is an expressway or arterial road the cost is eye watering, it would be one of the most expensive roads ever built in NZ. There is nothing emotive about that.

            It makes absolutely no sense to run buses along this designation as it is basically a ring road, so if four lanes are only needed for buses then there is no reason for four lanes. Buses would run through the middle of the new suburbs to ensure the best catchment.

          5. All costs these days are eye watering, whether its milk, butter or timber. Groceries these days are horrendous. Housing is out of this world. So yes, roads are expensive too, so let’s do more housing intensification? Nope can’t do that. Curb immigration? Nope. Things are expensive these days but we have to go on. Life goes on. Not sure why you wouldn’t run busses down the Mill Rd corridor? A ring road goes in a circle and Mill Rd runs mainly north to south so a great through road. Connector busses running through the suburbs are great but need to connect on to a faster bus way. Think of the Northern Express, a huge success on a dedicated road. All suburban busses connecting to it. Mill Rd could be similar so a great need for the four lanes. No point doing all this work and then in 10 years having to do it all again to widen to four lanes. Very narrow thinking for the tens of thousands of people who will be living there.

          6. @Andrew it’s obvious you’re invested in this project for its short term benefits, but:

            The bigger picture is the inherently inefficient usage of space by road vehicles vs other transport modes, and the pointlessness of continuing to feed the induced demand beast. Congestion will be back at the same level much sooner than predicted by roading engineers, but each proposed roading fix will be 10 times more expensive than the last. A ton of money that could have gone into providing long-term congestion-avoiding alternatives.

            Hence the default position here that such expensive roading projects should not go ahead unless they demonstrate under extremely close scrutiny that they meet a critical need ***sustainably***.

            Sometimes we just have to suck it up for the greater good. My local express bus is disappearing this year and I will either have to transfer, or ride a bike a fair distance to get to the nearest transport hub. But it’s worth it if the new bus network becomes more useful for the majority, thereby reducing road congestion.

          7. Would be great to have a local express but to start with. I predict I might get one in about 2025. But it will need roads to run on of course unless the people who don’t live in these areas continue to make waves to cancel the road improvements that are planned.

  2. Why spend yet more on roads, when the greater need is for cycling and public transport? If safety’s a problem, cut the speed limit. Until there’s useable alternatives, upgraded roads will just generate more traffic.

    1. Yea, may be about 30kph should do it. Imagine trying to enforce it? Impossible. And even if you could, the whole country would grind to a halt, assuming it was done nationally. Great alternative as no one would be going anywhere, especially as there are no footpathes and cycle facilities in this area.

      1. “there are no footpathes and cycle facilities in this area”

        AT recognise this. They say: “For over 50 years the primary focus of urban roads has been on the private motor vehicle. The complex nature of streets has been largely consumed by a car-first system that categorises and manages roads primarily on their ability to facilitate the movement of cars.”

        And: “Over the last ten years cities around the world have been adopting progressive new standards, guidelines and best practice designs that support walking, cycling and public transport use. It is becoming evident that this new approach can provide large benefits beyond mobility including increased economic activity, improved public health, and better designed environments.”

        They’ve got their work cut out for them. You might think that slower speeds bring the country to a halt. Experts in the field, even including AT, disagree with you.

        1. Totally agree with you about changing the car-first strategy. It’s the way forward for sure, but a blanket speed reduction as a safety measure doesn’t work. Check out the latest road toll. Lots of safer speed areas popping up all over the place and the road toll has spiked. To say that you will make roads safer just by lowering the speed is a nonsense. It’s part of an overall safer roads strategy, but not stand alone.

  3. I’m sure my enthusiasm for cycling is far lower than the average reader of this site. Maybe because I am old, unfit and North Shore has too many steep hills and frequently unsuitable weather. I may become more positive when I treat myself to an electric bike next Xmas. However I have to agree with the main message which is if you are going to have bikes at least do it safely and intelligently.

    Looking at your diagram ‘typical cross section 4b – Mill Road’ I wondered if it was the same road I used to take from Ardmore airport heading North. Firstly I never saw a pedestrian and virtually no cyclists. It is lovely flatish land suitable for cyclists of all ages but you would have to have a suicide wish to ride a bike along Mill road at present. And this proposal looks little better. If you are toodling along on a bike and a large truck passes at high speed it would be easy to be sucked under the back wheels. Then the joy of cycling with the wind in your face is dispelled by diesel fumes.
    My solution would have a wide combined cycling and pedestrian path on one side of the road only with regular notices reminding cyclists that pedestrians always have right of way and may have problems with eyesight and/or hearing (we got that instruction from our parents when I was young). Plonk the wide berm between the cycling/walking path (lets give it a decent name – the ‘freedom lane’ or the traditional ‘bridleway’) and vehicles. The problem I can envisage is the Mill road I know changing from fields to houses; there has to be something to prevent careless vehicles crossing my bridleway and hitting runners/cyclists/babies in pushchairs – a reasonable sleeping policeman should do the trick and of course the berm if wide enough minimises vehicles blocking the cycleway while searching for gaps in the traffic unlike the planners proposals.

    That seems such a great original idea (OK just copied from sane countries) that we might as well build a Mill Road bridleway now and just add the motorway if we feel like it some years later. Get enough cyclists in action and maybe the need to go from 2 to 4 lanes will not eventuate.

    1. Why are you advocating a shared path for cycling and walking when the corridor is large enough to have separated cycling and walking paths?
      Shared paths should be a last resort when there isn’t enough space for separated paths! It is a poor outcome for cyclists to use a shared path (as they have to ride slowly and avoid pedestrians) and isn’t safe for pedestrians as they risk being hit by cyclists (the same reason why cycle lanes are best off the road rather than on road where the risk of being hit by a vehicle exists).
      1.5 metre wide foot path each side and 4m wide cycle way down one side (would still be a lot cheaper than building a 3m shared path and 5.2m of on road cycle lane.

    2. Having used to work around that area, I can say that I’ve seen pedestrians and numerous people out for a run in the area between Takanini and Ardmore. Luckily I’ve never heard of an injury, but as the housing density continues to rise, it is probably only a matter of time before there are injuries, both for those riding and pedestrians.

      I look forward to better quality infrastructure to support multiple modes.

      1. Thanks for taking my comment seriously.
        Fra99le: cost is one factor and another guilt about not using my bike ~ two years ago I was using it quite often and then went and did the Otago railway (great joy) but since then responsibilities to get the groceries and such like gave me febble excuses to duck using it. Also getting old and embarrassed when I have to push it. Last year had Doctors orders to not get the heart going too hard. Still thanks for some inspiration – just the nudge I need to get it pumped up and used until I go electric.
        AKLDUDE: I see your point but wouldn’t put it as ‘last’ resort. Thinking of Tamaki drive you would certainly be right – too many pedestrians and too many bikes on too narrow a footpath. I grew up in a country area with country lanes where we had pedestrians and bikes but few vehicles. Pedestrians were never hit by cyclists – we watched what we were doing. Looking at the diagram the 2 cycle lanes plus the pedestrian path gives you 8.2 metres (more if you shrink the median) ~ plenty of room for walkers and cyclists even travelling in bunches – etiquette would quickly evolve. Whereas I would feel unsafe on a mere 2 (or 2.6?) metre cyclepath with fast trucks coming up behind me especially with new silent electrical vehicles and the added issue of every side turning for the houses that are bound to be built.
        Nik: Thanks for the info. Certainly worth getting it right now – there doesn’t have to be a war between cyclists and drivers – just aim to keep them apart. I like my suggestion but even simply swapping the sequence on that diagram would be a step forward: from Berm/Cycle/Car/Car/Median/Car/Car/Cycle/Berm/Footpath/Berm to Berm/Car/Car/Median/Car/Car/Berm/Footpath/Wide-cycleway.

        Maybe the difference is I think of cycling as a communal activity where one rides chatting to your mother alongside you. But most cyclists on this website are thinking of slip-streaming behind a better cyclist.
        .

        1. Not me, though, Bob 🙂 We have great chuckles as we cycle along in my family.

          BTW if you do get back on your bike, and if you attempt to use it for grocery shopping, have a look at some of the newer panier bag designs which clip on and off really easily. My husband takes his bags right into the shops, whereas my panier bags are older and I leave them on the bike to fill when I come out.

    1. Yes; it’s completely out of line with stated objectives of Council and AT and government.

      This road will induce a huge volume of traffic. As a result people in an even larger area of the city will be stuck in even longer even worse peak hour congestion. The reduction in access will be considerable.

      IIRC the business case for this road was diabolical – not only did it rely on improved travel times (which will happen but only in the short term – long term they’ll be far worse) but also they put in some complete tripe about improved agglomeration. This road will not improve agglomeration; it’ll do the opposite.

      Imagine the access provided if most of that money was put towards PT and cycling and walking! Without adding traffic to the city. You’d have to be mad or in bed with the road construction or truck lobby to consider a project like this.

      1. As a local resident who is seeing hundreds if not thousands of houses being built as the Council opens up the land to mass housing, are you proposing a cycle lane and bus lanes to get me to work? Its the councils objective to allow more housing and the transport body to build the infrastructure to allow this to happen. The objectives do align. How do cycle lanes and bus lanes fix the current dangerous intersection? If you dont want the upgraded roads then dont approve mass infill housing projects, its quite simple. I am hanging out for the project to be completed as it is needed.

        1. I don’t know where you work but if you have to pass through the Reboubt Rd/Southern Motorway interchange, then I can’t see this project being anything but bad for you. There will be some serious congestion there once this road opens.

          1. I travel over the whole area regularly and you’re obviously concerned about one intersection. I have one question though. So the project doesn’t go ahead and the Council pushes ahead with the urbanisation of the area. With or without the project the vehicle growth will continue. So why is it just the project that will be bad for me? I actually agree with most people here in not supporting additional greenfield housing but if the Council insists on it, what are we all supposed to do?
            We shouldn’t really be commenting on the project, but the driver that makes the project happen: which is the housing. Who is bringing this up with the council? No one. So nothing will change.

          2. There will have to be some upgrade of roads, but this expressway level project with viaducts is not vital to serving the proposed population growth in this area.

          3. How do you know that:

            “There will have to be some upgrade of roads, but this expressway level project with viaducts is not vital to serving the proposed population growth in this area”

            Bold statement with no qualifying information to back it up.
            The reality is the population growth, roughly the size of Hamilton, is huge and this road is exactly what is needed. Also everyone refers it as an expressway to maximise the emotional response to it when it’s going to be an arterial road with houses accessing straight onto it. Expressways don’t do that.

          4. “and this road is exactly what is needed”

            Bold statement with no qualifying information to back it up. 🙂

            Andrew, do you see all the other parts of Auckland where greenfields developments are planned? There are many. They, too, will have new roads. And they, too, will induce massive amounts of traffic over time. That means many more trips, trips that are making it dangerous for our children to move around the city. The closer to the centre of Auckland you get, the worse the traffic numbers will become. There’ll be an enormous fight between those who live in the farflung sprawl, who need cars to get everywhere, and the ones who live on the routes and ratruns and Hide and Ride locations everywhere else.

            We know this, because it’s already happened. Auckland has already covered too much land, and has too many people in car dependent lifestyles having to commute long distances by driving through and wrecking other people’s neighbourhoods. A pedestrian is hit every day in Auckland, one in three fatally or seriously. Our kids can’t cycle.

            Greenfields development, NIMBY’s who are resisting intensification of the isthmus, and road expansion all support the unsustainable model of car dependent sprawl. They need to be tackled together in a concerted effort. Won’t you attempt to see it holistically instead of just supporting a road project you think will benefit you?

          5. My bold statement is qualified by the fact the independent commissioners approved the designation of the road to enable it to go to the next stage.
            Look I do agree with you on the sprawl and the fact it is not sustainable but why is the council pushing ahead with this model? The council chose urban sprawl and then people like me have to live there out of affordability. Yes I would love PT options but they are not even on the radar. The population density in the outer suburbs isn’t high enough to warrant economic PT options so it’s just not going to happen. Connection to the main trunk line is important but are there any plans for this to happen?

          6. “Yes I would love PT options but they are not even on the radar”

            Yet when we propose them, you say they only need “future-proofing”.

          7. We can propose them all we like, we can also beg for them, but we don’t have the population density to warrant them. So future proofing them is great, as then when they are viable we will have lanes to run them on.

          8. You said the road is congested. Is it or is it not? If it is, we need to be more spatially efficient, not repeat the same mistakes that caused that congestion. That would be idiotic. And expensive.

            And if the same pattern is going to occur going south, then do the same.

            You are either interested in providing PT options or you are not. You are not. At least be honest about it.

          9. The road is congested, yes. An yes we need to be more spatially efficient, not repeat the same mistakes that caused that congestion. That would be idiotic. And expensive. Yes this is correct.

            But this is what the council has done by opening up the land for development without having the infrastructure there. It’s the council we should all be messaging. They approve the houses, the developers build them, people have to live in them, then it’s all a big mess as the infrastructure can’t cope. Roads and bus ways and all this should have been planned at the same time, not just opening up these areas to housing with no plan.

            I am very PT focused, but the problem is today and tomorrow I need to get to work to live.

          10. You don’t have the population density to justify PT at this stage, yet you supposedly have the population to demand the country pays for one of the most expensive roading projects ever to serve this area.

            Yes, I don’t live in the area, but yes I have an interest in it as I am paying for this. $1 billion for a suburban arterial is insane.

            I think you have understood the scope of the independent commissioners looking at a designation. They are only looking at environmental issues, they don’t account for whether it is a sensible use of public funds.

          11. I probably will never use the CRL, but am paying my share of the $5B or so to complete it. Same for the NW Busway project, same for the Holiday highway up north, same for schools as I don’t have kids etc. etc. We all pay our share for the country’s infrastructure that is needed even if we don’t use it. Waterview tunnel was a few billion and have never used it. That’s life as I don’t get a choice but also don’t complain about it either.

          12. “That’s life as I don’t get a choice but also don’t complain about it either.”

            You do get a choice. You vote in council and government elections, and you can lobby your representatives. If council wanted to spend $2b on an artificial ski-field, I’m sure that you would complain. Many people see this expressway as a similar waste of money.

          13. Waterview was a $1.4 billion motorway project to connect two large areas of the city, the $3.4 billion CRL is the cornerstone of the cities PT network, a suburban arterial simply shouldn’t cost anywhere near what Mill Road will cost.

            I’d be surprised if Pakuranga Rd and Te Rakau Drive for example cost even a fraction of this.

            You’re confusing two issues, spending other people’s money in specific areas – that happens everywhere in NZ, and spending too much of other people’s money in one specific area, which is where Mill Road fits.

          14. Hi Andrew,
            I also live in the area and I have similar yet conflicting views to you.
            Yes this road needs some safety upgrades – I agree 100%.
            Double lane arterial? NOPE! That will only encourage more people to turn off SH1 and take this route as a motorway by-pass (which is currently also getting millions thrown at it) and we’ll be back at square 1 – but that seems to be the point of building these sort of roads.

        2. I don’t support any greenfields housing, Andrew. I believe allowing greenfields housing takes the focus off enabling the large-scale intensification on the isthmus that is required, and significantly reduce our capacity to build new homes in a way that creates a good city.

          The effects of land-use on roading and vice versa are well-known, but again, not well-modelled by the traffic engineers.

          If they’re going to put in the new housing, yes I do think you will be better served by PT and active mode infrastructure than by roading. Safety improvements to the roading are required, but the main investment needs to be in modes that will serve well into the future, not in roads that will induce more traffic.

          1. You’re right about Greenfields housing. The paradox we face though is that if you want to do Brownfields developments, the Council and AT bang on about traffic effects and you can’t get anything done without upgrading this or upgrading that at massive cost. Build out in the wops where there is no traffic though (even though its creates greater trip distances and restricts people to a singular mode), you’ll get that approved no worries. Re: PT and active modes, again you’re right, but the conundrum is that no-one wants to pay for that (mayors get elected on capping rates and there are major freight and transport lobbies who will oppose any re-direction of transport funds to these modes). We’ve come a long way to agreeing whats needed (PT and active modes), but there is still a long way to go to get consensus on how we are going to fund it.

            And back to the original post, yes Mill Road cross-section looks horrific, cycle lanes (even in concept for NOR) should have been done better than that!

        3. Andrew: “are you proposing a cycle lane and bus lanes to get me to work?”

          No. They may do, I don’t know your circumstances. But I am assuming you’ll just drive as you currently do, and continue to be a contributor to traffic which you will complain about being stuck in. So status quo.

          Proposals for bus and cycle lanes don’t involve telling people they can’t drive, despite the hysteria which suggests otherwise.

          1. The council opened up the area for housing, which is where I live and can afford to live. My work options aren’t close to where I live and I can’t afford to move closer. PT unfortunately isn’t an option for me, as with thousands of others. Now you can point the finger at me as part of the problem and this is true. But the problem was created by the politicians. We are just pawns in the process. I cycle on and off road regularly and would use the new facilities when built, but I still have to drive to work. Council can’t just create these areas with no real PT connections then not upgrade the roads accordingly. Even a future busway could run on a four lane road so the project can cater for future PT options when the demand is there.

          2. “..a future busway could run on a four lane road so the project can cater for future PT options when the demand is there”

            The cynic in me would say build the busway from Day 1. If its there, people will use it and history tells us that retro-fitting it in later – at the expense of a car lane people feel is there for eternity, is asking for trouble.

          3. While converting a vehicle lane to a busway is fraught with problems, bus lanes on the other hand are very successful and are implemented successfully all over the country. Saves an additional few hundred million which is handy. Don’t forget there aren’t the people there yet to warrant it and other areas in Auckland are desperate for it. May as well put it where it’s needed now.

          4. Hangon, if the bus lane is not needed now, and you suggest spending the money elsewhere in auckland that needs it, are you advocating the road be built as a single lane each way for now, then widen when the buslane is needed? Because i don’t see how four general traffic lanes is going to be cheaper than one general traffic lane + one bus lane.

          5. Andrew, sorry but I don’t buy the whole “there is huge growth and therefore we need this road immediately” argument. The fact is that greenfield growth across most of Takanini has been sequenced as being at least 20 years away due to flooding and soil stability issues. This is the very last greenfield area sequenced for growth.

            This means basically every other project in Auckland should be considered a higher priority.

          6. Andrew, once we have road pricing implemented, we can manage demand for road space by pricing it. There is no inherent requiremen5 to expand road capacity just because of new development. Particularly when the road capacity is being used in a recklessly inefficient manner by SOVs.

          7. @Dan C
            The bus lane is not needed now because the area to the south isn’t developed enough yet, but the current two lane road is at capacity and there needs to be four lanes right now. No point in doing a half arsed job and then having to go back and do it again later.

            @I Am Groot
            The two lane road is at capacity right now and is unsafe in many areas due to the topography and unsuitable old designs of the intersections. The growth outside the flood area is sufficient to warrant the road upgrade.

            @Matthew W
            Not sure how the road capacity is being used in a recklessly inefficient manner by SOVs? It’s a road and I drive on it. Not recklessly either.

          8. Andrew:

            “The bus lane is not needed now because the area to the south isn’t developed enough yet, but the current two lane road is at capacity and there needs to be four lanes right now.”

            Do you realise the silliness of that statement? You have congestion because of development and a lack of options aside from the SoV. So you propose…doubling down on that. What’s the point in spending a billion dollars for the same ultimate result?

            “No point in doing a half arsed job and then having to go back and do it again later.”

            That is exactly what you are proposing – postponing the inevitable. Like the NW Busway. That didn’t happen because people decided it could be done later. Except they could not then take away a lane from cars so had to go back and dig it up again just as it was finished….to add in a busway.

            You just want extra lanes for the SoV and someone else can deal with providing a bus RTN later. And when those 4 lanes are congested through induced demand its going to be much harder to take back a lane for buses. And you know that.

          9. KLK
            If AT doesn’t upgrade the road at this point there are a few things that will happen and a few that won’t.

            Firstly what won’t happen is a bus way. No chance in the world right now. There isn’t even a PT plan that covers this area.
            Secondly, and what will happen, is accidents will increase due to the current unsafe intersections and poor alignment of the road. Multi-million dollar investments will have to be made to improve the safety.

            If the project does go ahead it will be the only chance to have a bus lane future proofed, as we both know bus lanes are very favourable because no additional infrastructure is needed. And you know that. Bus RTN’s run on roads and having a four lane road means it’s there for the future.
            The SoV’s can use the road space for now and like all over Auckland they will give up the space for future bus RTN’s later.

            There will never be a busway as the proposed NWBusway in this area, or not in the next 50 years at least.

          10. “If the project does go ahead it will be the only chance to have a bus lane future proofed, as we both know bus lanes are very favourable because no additional infrastructure is needed.”

            Exactly. So build it now to deal with one of your main issues, that there is no PT plan.

            “Bus RTN’s run on roads and having a four lane road means it’s there for the future.
            The SoV’s can use the road space for now and like all over Auckland they will give up the space for future bus RTN’s later.”

            Boom. Putting aside the laughable comment that ‘all over Auckland” SoVs are happy to give over space to RTN, let me paraphrase your comment:

            “Upgrade for my SoV route now and we’ll talk bus lanes later. Despite me saying over and again this area lacks PT, needs PT, I don’t want to provide PT, not now anyway.”

            Your arguments are contradictory but utterly transparent.

          11. Multi-million dollar investments to improve safety sound quite sensible and would be a fraction of the billion dollar price tag of this proposed project.

          12. “Upgrade for my SoV route now and we’ll talk bus lanes later. Despite me saying over and again this area lacks PT, needs PT, I don’t want to provide PT, not now anyway.”

            “The area lacks PT” is correct but it doesn’t need PT (economically) as there isn’t the population density right now. So yes “not now anyway”. But its future proofed for when we do need it. And this is the only time this option will be available as if the existing road is just safety proofed with no capacity increase then there will be no lanes for the future bus lanes.

            You’re reading my comments with a bias opinion unfortunately.

          13. “You’re reading my comments with a bias opinion unfortunately”

            I am struggling to read them at all because you manage to effortlessly contradict yourself with each further post.

            If you have congestion and its going to get worse, include bus lanes now and get ahead of the inevitable. If bus lanes aren’t needed because of a lack of population then neither is a 4 lane suburban motorway right now.

            Its a simple choice, really.

          14. Ok, here’s what we should do, I will support the project and you will oppose it and democracy will decide on the outcome. I want a road that is future proofed for bus lanes and you want bus lanes right away. I live in the area and am directly affected and you’re not. Whatever the outcome I will be happy, except if there are no improvements at all of course.

          15. Andrew: “I live in the area and am directly affected and you’re not. Whatever the outcome I will be happy, except if there are no improvements at all of course.”

            As I said in my earlier comment – Safety upgrades to the corridor YES! My opinion – Single lane each way – 50km in the Manukau area and 60km where it currently begins near Hilltop Rd, and get rid of the 80km sections of Mill Road, all of it can be 60kmh. Make the road safer and slower, provide walking, cycling and yes, bus lanes in the Manukau area (as I can see the Murphys Rd and Redoubt Rd bit needed buses in the future).
            Let’s not provide another multi lane route that essentially runs parallel to SH1.

          16. “I want a road that is future proofed for bus lanes and you want bus lanes right away.”

            Nice way to completely and deliberately misrepresent the position into a single sentence. Spend $1bn on 4 lanes for cars or nothing. Instead, you need to figure out what the problem is you are trying to solve. You say it is congestion.

            You want a $1bn road to solely help with your own personal SoV trip, that *may* allow for RTN later*

            I want $1bn (if it is to be spent) spent the best way in solving the congestion problem you say is such an issue.

            Your solution will add to SoV congestion, eating up short term benefits through induced demand, providing no immediate alternative. So $1bn to get back to square one. And its laughable to suggest people like you will give up 30% of road capacity later, further slowing down your trip, for buses.

            My solution will help with congestion, in so far as getting more people through that corridor, than yours. And it is a gift that will keep on giving with further development and people needing to travel through here, getting them out of cars and out of your way. And best of all, it doesn’t stop you driving and actually gives you 50% more capacity than you have now (1 extra lane).

          17. Andrew – I don’t think anyone is saying that we should do absolutely nothing to improve the Mill Road corridor. The point is about scale and timing – this seems like an over-the-top solution to progress now when we compare against other priorities.

            Surely the obvious solution is to do a few quick fixes now and then do the bigger project when the major growth comes in 20-30 years time.

          18. Andrew, to justify the expenditure, each road user would need to be willing to pay about $20 a trip based on a quick calculation. Then you need to add CO2 emmisions charges to meet our climate change targets which could be very high in 20 years or so. If those SOVs aren’t willing to pay that per trip, this expansion is a waste of money.

  4. The title graphic shows the real problem. They are planning four lanes up a very steep hill that then just stops at the top. There will either be a major traffic jam as the road does not go anywhere, or worse people will drive off the edge.

  5. I’m not sure what’s worse – poor roads-first planning like this, or the PT-friendly PR crap we get from Council. How, given the roads-heavy budget, for example, can Council put on the latest Rates Assessment:

    “Transport – We aim to transform Auckland by moving to outstanding public transport within one network. This can be achieved by improving the speed, accessibility, frequency, affordability, reliability and attractiveness of public transport.”

    And that’s it. Nothing about the lion’s share going to roads like this disaster. Surely this is something that could be taken up with the Advertising Standards Authority, or something?

    1. Its becoming comical isn’t it. How long can you get away with saying one thing and doing another.
      I also love it when they pretend a huge road spend up is multi modal.

      1. Actions speak louder than words.

        Words: “Safer access to Alfriston School” (at 2:35)

        Proposed action: high-speed roundabout between the proposed development and the school.

        1. It is allowed if it is in the national interest, which means if a minister or high ranking public servant will be embarrassed. Departments are free to take their own approach though:
          1/ Health Boards – “We have already implemented the changes recommended in the report;
          2/ Police – “We discontinued the chase prior to the crash occurring”;
          3/ Defence- “The deceased person is responsible for the whole thing”;
          4/ Justice and Courts- “The government is subject to the rule of law.”
          etc

  6. I’d say the reason for the flush median, and probably the cycling and walking infra being beside the road, is so that they can add more traffic lanes later when the congestion gets too bad. Always planning for the future, you see, and their models show that there will be increased traffic (regardless of what they do, apparently. They say it’s nothing to do with building this road, which their model shows will not induce any new trips.)

  7. Problem with this project from a cycling point of view is that the road between Alfirston and Redoubt runs through very steep country, not really suitable for cycling, although it is used by serious cyclists for training. Another problem is that the traffic will empty out onto the Southern Motorway, which is already a glorified parking lot for quite a bit of the day.
    Regarding the subdivisions at Takanini, the houses are being built at the western end of Ardmore Aerodrome, which is the way most of the planes take off. I wouldn’t like to live there, although the mix does include Spitfires and Mustangs, with their gorgeous sounding Merlins.

  8. I am familiar with the area and have regularly driven down Mill Road since the mid-nineties. It provides a useful southbound alternative to the Southern Motorway when there is an issue after the confluence of SH1 and SH20 (particularly for Papakura East and Takanini) – which happens very regularly. It definitely needs an upgrade but agree the scope and detail of the work needs to be scrutinised.
    Regarding the connection of the northern and southern sections, I understand (but stand to be corrected) that the road reserve through the new housing at the northern end of Dominion road (Okawa Ave) has been left wide enough to accommodate the Mill Road corridor. There are driveways on the eastern side of the road but not the western side.
    The section along Dominion Road looks like it would be difficult to achieve a good outcome and I have no idea where they intend to go through the industrial area to the south of Settlement Road.

  9. This is a hideous project that may end up costing close to a billion dollars. Making it expressway standard (or even four lanes) makes little economic sense when all it needs to be is a free flowing distributor road supplemented by good public transport and cycle corridors.

    National’s intention to have it part of the state highway network is also a complete joke.

    1. Except that in the future a four lane road can easily be converted to a dedicated bus lane, there by providing future public transport links. Genius isn’t it. And it has cycle lanes.

      1. Because we are having great success at converting lanes for cars to busways….

        You have repeatedly said that the growth in this area will warrant PT enhancements in future. So why not do it now? Anything else is at best disingenuous and at worst more of the car-centric thinking that preceeded us.

        1. Yes we are actually having great success in converting lanes for cars to BUS LANES. Have a look around and you will be surprised. No additional land needed at all. Genius. Future proofed.

          1. I am calling bullsh*t on your “future-proofing” claims

            If the road is as busy as you say it is, the upgrade needs to have a more spacially efficient movement of people – bus lanes – and now. If it does not, then it doesnt need a billion dollars yet. And if it does need a billion dollars because of future growth, then it needs bus lanes. Genius.

            You want an upgrade that you think will improve your personal drive, not really a long term solution for the movement of people through that corridor.

  10. “Also again, what is with AT’s obsession with flush median?”

    But Harriet, the cross-section diagram shows a “raised median”, not a flush median.

    Flush medians are the cheap ones that are flush with the road surface – i.e. just painted on.

    Raised (or “kerbed”) medians are the ones that are built up to deter vehicles from driving on to them.

    Median strips (flush or raised) are a recognition of the inherent danger in allowing vehicles in opposing directions to get too close to each other. They are an attempt to provide a safety margin against centre-line incursions and head-on collisions. But in practice they tend to make a road look wider and safer, thereby encouraging faster driving. And for a given total width of road, they inevitably steal width from the shoulders thus making things less-safe for cyclists.

    Far better to have a narrower median (flush or kerbed) with a proper barrier.

  11. I don’t think we should lump the whole project with a cycling corridor, especially the area north of Alfriston. There is plenty of flat land to the west which could take a cycleway, such as alongside the Southern Motorway or even Great South Road in a similar manner to the North Western cycleway, which is a huge success.

  12. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more upset about the impact of the road on the native bush. There are few comparable stands in the vicinity, and while AT has bowed to pressure and replaced the initial “at-grade” proposal through the bush with a viaduct, it still represents a significant risk to the future of the bush, according to some.

    I’d be more inclined to rethink the whole project. Find out what the origin/destination of the bulk of drivers using the road currently is, and then propose PT solutions which should remove a decent chunk of them and lead to less congestion. Those that choose to remain in their cars – their problem. The time for billion dollar roading boondoggles is surely over . . .

    1. The impact on the native bush was highly contested actually and the commissioners heard all the evidence. With a bit of give and take on both sides the designation was approved. Also there was never an “at grade” proposal through the bush area. The bridge was needed because of the steep gullies in the area.

  13. A detail I noticed in the end of the video is the proposed housing area, which is rendered as just another few km² of blanket sprawl. And those usually come with a big road to get in and out of there.

    What is actually planned there? Is there going to be any semblance of a town centre? Any plan on how people will get in and out of there by bus?

  14. A huge flaw in the Mill Road expressway proposal is what happens to all the traffic when it reaches SH1 at Manukau – this is already a serious choke point on the Southern Motorway and South Western Motorway where they join.

    Regarding the part 2 Drury-Pukekohe section which local National MP Andrew Bailey is hard out pushing for, this and the dangerous SH22 from Drury to Pukekohe could be better addressed by creating a new high quality, good design State Highway (not motorway) using existing roads from Bombay to Wiri with building the long proposed bridge over the Pahurehure Inlet between Karaka Point and Weymouth.

    This route could run from the SH1 interchange at Bombay along Mill Road, Pukekohe East Road, Belgium Road, Reynolds Road, Cape Hill Road, Paerata Road, Glenbrook Road, Charles Road, Lainge Road, Urquhart Road, over the Pahurehure Inlet with a new bridge to connect with Weymouth Road and Roscommon Road and the SH20 South Western Motorway at Wiri.

    This would provide a better, much needed, alternative north-south route out of Auckland, which would utilise existing roads (upgraded) which could be rebuilt to accommodate both vehicular traffic and cyclists, linking Pukekohe and the major new development in Paerata directly with Manukau, the airport, the central city and West Auckland via the new Waterview tunnel.

    The new bridge over the Pahurehure Inlet could be built with cycle and footpaths as well as traffic lanes to provide non-car based travel options. A new bus route could also possibly be established between Manukau and Pukekohe via Paerata over this bridge.

    This much needed alternative route south out of Auckland would be quicker and cheaper to build than the proposed Mill Road expressway which if built to Pukekohe, will just feed more traffic onto an already near-gridlocked Southern Motorway, which is only going to get much worse once all the major new development around Drury and Paerata is built.

  15. A new north-south local through road (with a combined cycleway / footpath) could be built between Papakura and Drury by simply extending Marne Road south along the eastern side of the railway line to connect with Sutton Road and another extension south from the Sutton Road level crossing along the eastern side of the railway line to connect with the intersection of Waihoehoe Road and Fitzgerald Road.

    A large new park and ride with a new rail station should be built at Drury on Flanagan Road utilising the paddocks under the power pylons beside the motorway, Great South Road and Flanagan Road. This would have the station and park and ride in full view from the motorway and easy to access for people commuting from further afield. A station and large park and ride here is ideally located strategically to serve the greatest number of people conveniently and could be served with both train services running from Pukekohe and bus services from Papakura.

  16. I ride Mill Road quite often and find that I am taking my life into my own hands.

    I love the on road cycleway design here. No complaints from me – It’s a massive improvement on what’s there now and far better than a shared (just NO!) or separated path (prefer seamless on road option).

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