This is a guest post from Nicholas Lee

In October 2018, NZTA closed the pedestrian bridge connecting the shore of Onehunga with the Mangere Bridge. At nearly hundred years old the bridge has deteriorated to the point of being unsafe and has been due for rebuilding or repair since its closure for motor traffic when the first SH20 bridge over it was opened in the 1980s. The (scant) publicity at the time of the closure, mostly mourning the loss of this unique human-sized connection across the Manukau Harbour, has quickly died out. That is not surprising: the voices of south Auckland and the Manukau Harbour have been historically ignored. Yet, this Onehunga-Mangere connection should matter to everyone in Auckland, and especially to the advocates of public transport. If the new bridge is designed  without the provision for light rail to cross the harbour,this project could be derailed for years to come or even permanently. And there are good reasons to think that this is a realistic scenario.

First, the silence about the tender process is suspicious. The tender for the replacement is (allegedly) due back this month (March) yet there has been no public discussion, or even information, about it.

NZTA have a history of running projects over the summer period which makes public engagement difficult. I have now made an OIA request for the tender documentation, which may or may not add better visibility. And may or may not be received before the tender closes.

Second, and most importantly, according to another recent OIA response, “no work has been undertaken on redesigning the current bridge design to accommodate light rail.”

NZTA at least officially supports light rail, acknowledging it as an important project to increase social equity in Mangere and south Auckland:

NZTA also acknowledges it as an important step for Auckland to transition to a climate friendly multi-modal oriented city development:

Yet at the same time, proceeding with the current design to tender means that the NZTA has already made a decision: one which excludes light rail.

One could argue that the LRT could cross the Manukau Harbour somewhere else. However, even ignoring the extra cost for an additional bridge, getting consent for a third crossing will be difficult and the alignment will not support a good LRT service.

With the delays on a city start due to the CRL, America’s Cup and conflicts over Dominion Road, NZTA should be accelerating the project development, starting with the section from Onehunga to the Airport and upgrading the A2B BRT section to LRT, thus creating a complete first stage network. A light rail capable crossing should be a priority.

The inclusion of light rail is not the only issue related to the current design that NZTA has refused to answer. Another one relates to the set of challenges with the Transpower 110kv lines and clearances. Access to the upper harbour is also an area of concern: while the SH20 bridge clearance is very high, the new design has only 4.625m at MHWS, continuing a theme of limited access to the upper harbour. Supposedly a “future lifting section” could provide this access, but why should solving a problem we can foresee now be relegated to some uncertain future?

Furthermore, it is not at all clear how the new bridge will integrate with the port and place making around the port. We do know that NZTA have refused to acknowledge the Master Planning MOU between TOES and Auckland Council.

All of these problems can be summarized under two main headings and are characteristic of the approach to infrastructure in New Zealand more generally:

  1. working in silos/lack of integration between different agencies and remits
  2. rushing with projects that have not been thought-through properly, in particular with the regard to the future (human, environmental, economic) challenges

While the “number 8 wire”, “she’ll be right” approach may have worked in small communities of the historical New Zealand, it will not work for Auckland as a big urban centre of the 21st century. What is needed next is not a (new and tidy) replica of the old Mangere Bridge, but a connection for communities built for the future.

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119 comments

  1. Thanks for the research and persistence with chasing this information. It really annoys me how agencies act arrogantly, deliberately obstruct transparency and discourage more progressive wholistic decisions. The system seems designed to rush the more simpler short sighted decisions on the sly.

  2. The new pedestrian/fishing bridge is horizontally curved. It would need to be substantially revamped to cater for light rail.
    It’s currently in interactive tender with a number of contractors. The design was by Aurecon and features a central arch.

    When originally tendered for design back in 2013/14 the new bridge ‘had’ to be complete by December 2016 because the existing bridge would be deemed ‘unsafe’ by then according to the NZTA.

  3. The light railway could travel on the motorway bridge. After all there are bus lanes on both bridges.This would mean that it would effectively bypass Onehunga although a station could be built at the end of Onehunga Mall near the port. Off course the best thing would be just to scrap the ill conceived light rail project. Second best thing would be to do as Nicholas suggests and do the Onehunga Airport section first. But then you need another bridge if its going to run close to the Onehunga station and bus depot.Unless the line ran through Gloucester park to get to the motorway bridge.

    1. Running on the SH20 bridge would bypass Mangere Bridge, Onehunga Port and Onehunga.

      The major advantage of LRT is putting the transit nodes within an existing built-up location. To cast that advantage away is short term thinking and poor planning.

      1. A balance has to be struck though as this is a very long route. If it is going to be run on the street through Mangere Bridge then you could also argue it should run on the street through to Mangere and also between Onehunga and Mt Roskill. This would increase the catchment but make it a very long trip from Mangere to the CBD.

        1. The “fast” route to the airport from the CC should be via Puhinui and A2B. Single seat express route serves only a limited group. I think it is marginal time saving vs exchange at the Puhinui exchange.

          I’ve mentioned this on twitter. A transit hubs like Szell Kalman Ter (SKT) is very much the role Onehunga should play.

          SKT is an exchange between metro (underground), several LRT routes, and many bus routes. Given the crossing is a natural pinch point, I think it also makes Onehunga a natural transit hub.

          Given that the important metric is not time from CC to airport. But quality of the connection in Onehunga and the travel times including connection in Onehunga.

          HRT from CC to Onehunga is 20-25min. Maybe faster with CRT. It will be an easy exchange.

          1. I never mentioned the airport (I agree the time taken to get to the airport is not important), it was the time taken to get from Mangere to the CBD I was commenting on.

            I can’t see people transferring to HR at Onehunga given the single track restricts frequencies to every 20 mins.

          2. @jezza

            Ben has suggested converting the Onehunga/Penrose section to LRT.

            https://voakl.net/2019/02/21/converting-the-onehunga-line-to-light-rail-extending-reach-of-both-heavy-rail-and-light-rail/

            I’m in two mind about that suggestion. However, a loop return via Mt Smart Rd may save the cost of double tracking.

            The Western LRT CFN line could terminate at a Mt Smart stadium station.

            Second.

            Manukau is also an important center from the south. Catchment and time to get to Manukau from Mangere is maybe just as important.

          3. I’d argue that not only is Onehunga a natural pinch point it is basically the centre of Auckland (barring the Shore) to such a degree that it would have likely ended up as the CBD if the Manukau was deeper. Extending that concept further we need to think of Onehunga as a secondary transit hub connecting the East, West, South and the Isthmus. We can also start rezoning the area to allow for more dense residential and commercial development.

            This stands in contrast to previous efforts to build an alternative town centres as Onehunga sits on the centre of north-south and east-west desire lines that are woefully underserved by public transport and needsmoney spent on it regardless of what happens in Onehunga itself. The rest is just unlocking the demand created by the transit hub.

          4. @Luxated 100% yes!

            Given the EWL, NZTA was essentially previously against integrated development of this type. Then we have the silo nature of our planning.

          5. @Luxated – Yes it sure does look the centre, I would actually say more NE Penrose / Oranga. If you include the Northshore to Albany/Browns Bay & down to Papakura / Drury it still seem about the centre. Now wouldn’t that be a good place to have our main Auckland stadium? Oh that’s right there is a stadium there called Mt Smart.

      2. If the light rail was on the eastern bridge it would be possible to have a station at Onehunga port. Look at google maps you can see that Onehunga mall curves away from Onehunga Harbour road. At the end there is the walkway cycleway that goes under the motorway before going onto the old Mangere bridge. . Just before the motorway goes onto the eastern motorway bridge there would be room for a station in my judgment.Its walkable from Onehunga but not ideal. Presumably the light rail would go over the two motorway feeder roads. The left lane on the motorway bridge is currently a bus lane. But if its on the eastern motorway bridge its a long way away from Mangere Bridge town center but it would be better for Mangere Town center. Its all a bit messy anyway you look at it.

        1. Onehunga HRT station is about 750m along the old rail corridor to the port. It’s about 500m to the point you mention for a station before an eastern bridge.

          1. Eastern bridge as a third will have trouble getting consent.
          2. Mangere Bridge town would be 500m from a station, thru a very nasty motorway interchange. Not very nice.
          3. Very important – you lose almost all the catchment west of Mangere Bridge township.

          1. Why would access be through a motorway interchange? You’d put the station at Miro Road, surely. Given that LRT is planned to be on the west of the motorway, this is about 300m from the town centre and an active modes crossing of the motorway would give great access to the employment to the east as well.

          2. Miro Rd is a good spot. If it was a HRT.

            I think the LRT alignment is best thru the town centre. The advantage of LRT is that we can run on existing roads into existing urban nodes.

          3. The advantages of LRT *are* that we *can* run on local roads or run at 110 km/h on the motorway. Miro Street is a good spot if you are focused on speed, the town centre is a good place if you are focused on access to existing urban centres.

            I think that building it at Miro Street and then rezoning the area between the town centre and the motorway for 10 storey mixed use is the best solution. You get the speed of service, the town centre moves towards the station, local land use intensifies allowing more people to be near the station, and you can justify a frequent bus service on adjoining roads for those who can’t walk or cycle that distance.

  4. Do we know if the old Mangere bridge is being demolished after the walking and cycling fishing bridge is constructed.

    1. My understanding is that the OMB will be demolished before the NOMB is built. Seeing the tender documents would provide a better picture of the sequencing they plan.

  5. Okay, so light rail is still an Auckland Council Phil Stoner Twyford pipe dream. And what they’re smoking is truly psychedelic.

    The money’s there, the will is there, we all know it should and needs to happen but there’s piss poor organising, the Minister is out to lunch, Auckland Councils legislation means elected councillors have no control on what their organisation does and really, nobody gives a shit who could make this happen. And the piece de resistance, NZTA is stopping it. The embedded NZTA bosses are just hanging back to see if a change of government can return them back to situation normal and just build roads and motorways. Just like with Skypath.

    So despite this and the fact there is a rail corridor right up to the foot of this bridge that directly joins the Onehunga rail line (or it did before Auckland Transport inexplicably demolished the Neilson St bridge), why if a bridge rebuild is to take place would anyone decide on yet another mode of transport? Why not put in heavy rail now if a bridge is to be constructed. It could be done far quicker. And unlike the fantasy of light rail, this is realistic.

    If this is not done it is a guaranteed recipe to ensure cars will rule forevermore in Auckland. Oh and the odd bus chucked in to pretend there are alternatives.

    1. Just rebuild the Neilson street overbridge then run single track down to the port on the existing right of way and build a single track conventional railway bridge over the Harbour then run the track alongside the Motorway to Mangere Town center. Do not double track the existing Onehunga rail line do not connect the Mangere line to the airport do not double track the line from Onehunga to Mangere town center.A passing loop on Princess street could be employed so that we could have two trains on the branch at one time. After all the light railway isn’t really about the airport or so we have being told so many times by politicians and greater Auckland bloggers and commenters.

      1. OK, so you’re now building a rail corridor through to Mangere Town Centre. Where? How? What about the other stops? How are you going to align it to the airport? Are you going to cut and cover to allow for elevation changes? How do you account for the increase in costs over LRT which runs at street level?

        1. You didn’t read my post I said do not connect the rail line to the airport. The line runs alongside the motorway with an overpass at the motorway ramps at Walmseley street then stops near Mangere Town center with a station at Bader drive. Also there would be a station near the motorway at Mangere Bridge.

          1. So how have you connected to the business parks out by the airport where thousands of people actually work? What have you gained for billions of dollars? A shorter bus ride?

      2. That’s a lot of money to spend on a single track line that would probably allow a train every 20-30 mins in each direction. Why would we give such poor service to Onehunga, when the LR proposal has a train every four minutes?

        1. How do you know its a lot of money. Its never being costed. The light rail is a farce if it happens its at least 10 to 15 years away. A single tracked extension to Mangere Town center could be done much more quickly.

          1. All new infrastructure costs a lot of money and this would involve two bridges and two bypasses of some description of motorway interchanges. Sure single track would cost less than double but it would by a lot more than half the cost and would likely provide less than half the capacity.

            The costs would likely be greater once we had to come back in the future and duplicate the line once the single track reached capacity.

            You say LR is 10 to 15 years away, which is probably true, but this project would also be at least five years away once it goes through business case, design and consenting process anyway. After all that we end up with a half-arsed piece of infrastructure that will need disruptive upgrading anyway.

          2. Given the number of people on the Onehunga Train and also the number on the 380 and 309 buses between Mangere town center and Onehunga I would say that a 20 minute frequency to service commuters to Newmarket and the CDB is about right. If a park and ride was built maybe we would need a six car set. And there is even the possibility of nine car sets down the track. After completion of course the 380 bus would run from the Mangere Bridge station instead of Onehunga. This would be good because I can count 9 bus stops in the Airport prescient so workers will be able to get on and off closer to their workplace. With the light rail there will only be one stop at the terminal. More stops would also be available for the business district before the airport proper starts.

          3. If there isn’t the patronage to justify increasing the frequency above 20-30 mins then there won’t be the benefits to justify the cost of building. A new single tracked passenger line in an urban area is pretty much unheard of.

            The business case for any line – heavy or light would be based on significantly increasing patronage.

          4. Jezza, that’s the same logic you used in denying the use of the extant and operational HR line for metro services to Kumeu/Huapai.
            Despite there being no evidence how patronage would start or grow then stating it would be insufficient to justify building costs or potential benefits when these also are unknown is just perverse.

      1. The track bed is there, the line connecting it is there, the rolling stock, staff and maintenance is there. All that is missing is a bridge connecting Mangere to the network.

        Light rail, none of the above!

        And how does it achieve less? It’s a similar principle.

        1. So what’s the marginal cost then; a brand new rail corridor that needs to be aligned, constrained by elevation and that’s going to serve at most three stops on the whole route, or the entire LRT branch from Queen St, plus stock and roadworks? Because I know which one is probably cheaper, and it’s not heavy rail.

        2. A bridge is a reasonably significant piece of infrastructure to be missing, and it is missing two, one over the harbour and one over Neilson St (or one that takes Neilson St over the railway).

          It is also missing any station infrastructure south of the harbour and any way of going through the Mahunga Dr and Walmseley Rd interchanges. There is no track bed in place south of the Mangere Bridge.

          1. I believe I read that the current motorway bridge was designed to include a single heavy rail track. This may reduce cost significantly.

          2. There is nothing there whatsoever for light rail. Nothing, it ain’t happening, the task is increasingly looking beyond our officials at this time.

            However were I a silent promoter of roads aka the National Party I would push for light rail exploratory plans knowing full well Auckland will get bogged down in committees and bickering and funding arguments and anti tax fights trying to get that many ducks in a row. I mean just look at the blow out costs for the CRL. Light rail will be that but on steroids, or at least that’s the tactics I suggest could be used.

            And before you know it, a sensible conservative Hosking like government returns and wonderful things like east west expressways can be built and roads take their deserved place as the leading way to move Auckland!

            And silly old light rail and even better heavy rail and any alternative to cars disappears to be another generations fight.

            Heavy rail is doable, here and now and comparatively more straight forward.

          3. @sam

            Yes. I’ve got a document about that somewhere. I spoke to one of the guys who built the SH20 bridge. He said this was a variation that was added towards the end of the project.

            Fews points.

            1. Only space for one track – so doesn’t promote frequency
            2. According to people I’ve spoken too, any HRT using this route under the SH20 would go very slowly.
            3. HRT is a white elephant. Please can we stop talking about it.

          4. Sam W – you are correct, it would only require a partial build of a bridge for single track.

            I think single track is the major problem with this proposal though as it severely reduces capacity making it very hard to get the benefits high enough to justify even a moderate cost.

        1. Everything we have in public transport predates AT with the sole exception the CRL. Since the ARC ceased to exist, what has Auckland achieved public transport wise? I can tell you, painting the bus fleet blue and silver, giving us the HOP card, driver shortages and gridlock worse than ever! And yep, they’ve tinkered with bus timetables and route numbers.

          It is not about hating LRT, its brilliant, any fool can see its benefits except for the sundry Judith Collins of this world. Its just Auckland traditionally and currently is utterly hopeless at moving forward. We are frozen in the post 1956 malaise of bus based public transport. Even when the funding is there and central government is behind it we are at the mercy of the impenetrable Auckland Transport, a silo of unelected officials. There is next to no evidence LRT will ever see the light of day, much less as far south as Mangere.

          Hence the far more simple option of extending heavy rail, there is almost no excuse for it barring the fact that AT are effing useless.

          1. “there is almost no excuse for it”

            Cost, benefit, frequency, catchment – even time – there is almost no good reason to continue boring everyone with HR as a viable solution. Its not.

  6. Or the new bridge should be redesigned. Light rail/tram is best mixed with dense areas with lots pedestrian use, going through town centres and near other transit nodes (train, buses). I really don’t think it should go over the motorway bridge.

  7. The failure to preserve the old Mangere bridge for even pedestrian/cyclists or to organise any replacement is something people should REALLY get annoyed about.

    Someone should try and raise this with the media and make people more aware of this issue.

    1. The cost of preservation would far outweigh the cost of replacement. Also, keeping the old bridge would preclude LRT, due to how narrow it is. A new bridge _could_ also tie in nicely with Panuku’s plans for revitalising the area.

      The real issue to be annoyed about is NZTA dragging their heels and attempting to disobey the govt (local and central). It’s as if some senior managers are still of the opinion that National is still in charge.

      1. (shakes head)

        Have you ever considered that the LRT is probably not going to get built?

        And that maybe just maybe the government actually has no intention of building it?

        1. Ignoring if LRT ever gets across the estuary – The fact remains that to remediate the existing bridge would cost several times the replacement cost and still not be fit for purpose.

  8. The current position is entirely consistent with NZTA’s approach more than a decade ago when an earlier project for replacing the old Mangere Bridge was under consideration. I remember attending a meeting of politicians and staff from the various local authorities as-were and the ARC and NZTA to review the then-current proposal for a pedestrian bridge, chaired by one Mike Lee. I made the mistake of asking the apparently naive question as to why the pedestrian bridge was not being designed to accommodate the then-current HR proposal. The answer, back then, was that they did not want to compromise the ability to take vessels further up the harbour; that they would therefore need a bridge that opened and that the bridge would be open an unacceptably large portion of the day, disrupting rail services. Yeah right – like there’s so much demand for sea traffic up the harbour to . . . umm Favona perhaps? I know, let’s dredge a channel up to Favona and move POAL there!

    As they say: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. At least it appears that way with NZTA. I appreciate that everyone’s trying to be nice to each other but surely it’s time that senior local politicians and MPs started calling out NZTA. I’d suggest that someone with the mongrel of Mike Lee would be appropriate. But not Mike – someone who is a team player and not prone to go rogue.

  9. Personally I think they should just dam that inlet near the motorway bridge, pump it out fill it in (rather than trucking fill out if Auckland) and boom you have thousands of hectares of new land in a prime central location available for housing, commercial and industry while providing land for crossings be they LR,HR, road etc. the inlet isn’t used for anything, is polluted and quite frankly an eyesore (since half the time it is just mudflats). Would open up Otahuhu, Favona and Mangere Bridge to the rest of Auckland. Yes it would cost, but that money would be recouped many times over with the land value. Also if really desired a canal could be kept and even channeled through to Curlew Bay to access the East coast a route traditional Maori used to take their waka over.

    1. Back in the late 1800’s their was a proposal to build a canal between the two oceans but it never came about as people said it was to costly and that is still happening today so times never are a changing , so do it now as tomorrow it will be twice the price..

    2. Now this is good!!. It appears to be a sensible suggestion. Lets give it some traction…ie.. lets hear some considered pros n cons ..not just emotive comment.

    3. also, perhaps.. site a new stadium near southdown.. rail links there… and the possibility of revitalising that area … canals… could be lovely as well

  10. Oh dear, dear me. Yet another South Auckland post that raises some real issues gets hi-jacked yet again by those entrenched in the heavy rail corner. Put it to bed, this to & fro plays right into the hands of the delay brigade of the moar roads party.
    And, can we please turn this conversation back to the severance of South Auckland and NZTA’s apparent lack of concern to resolve. In the 1980s,when the old bridge was first deteriorating and still had a job to do because the 1st new flyover bridge was perennially delayed the Army stepped up and built a bailey bridge over the worst parts of the old bridge to keep the traffic flowing. Why can’t that be an interim decision today while the NZTA works on a new design to integrate the two crossings
    (For the anoraks amongst you there is a scene in the original Good-bye Pork Pie movie where they mini is driven over the old bridge with the 1st new bridge under construction in the background)

    1. To be honest those videos put me off a bit more. In a shared space like that with people everywhere it didnt seem like it can get consistent good speeds. And not exactly family friendly. I certainly wont be taking my 3 young kids anywhere near a space like that without the light rail either fenced off or at least clearly defined as being separated . I note a young kid on the 3rd video stepping in front of the tram. I think more separation and definition would be safer rather than a shared space.

      1. I grew up in Central Europe and lived in 3 cities with light rail everywhere and I’ve never ever seen it ‘fenced off’. It was never a problem. Tram drivers are well trained and pay attention. People know how to behave in shared spaces. Children actually use trams from very young age *on their own* — daycares organize trips on public transport. Accidents are extremely rare. I certainly take my two kids everywhere on trams when we visit my hometown (and travel in the region).

        But you’re right that they don’t get ‘good speeds’. No one wants large vehicle in dense city centres to get a ‘good speed’ (I don’t want them to get a good speed in my non-dense suburban street) ! But this is something that people not used to density have to understand: in a dense city, speed is not necessary. Places are not far.

      2. This comment makes me think that how the conversation is hampered by the fact that many people who haven’t experienced it (or even maybe have as tourists, but didn’t actually navigate various transport modes in a dense city, with small children, old people etc) cannot really picture light rail, and understand for which purposes LRT makes sense and when should HR be selected. So that (to me) strange ideas such as LRT on motorway are discussed.

        Cities with best public transport (in my experience – Budapest, hands down, better than even Vienna or anywhere else in Europe; I admit I don’t know Chinese cities) – integrate many different modes: underground, HR, LRT, trolleybuses, minibuses, buses, ferryboats, with very clear understanding which one is best suited for the particular route.

    2. Even where I live on a single lane gravel road in the Auckland area those trams are going slower than the idiot motorist’s that use the road pass my place and the road does not have any footpaths what so ever , so teach your self and children to watch for them , as they aren’t to had to spot given the height or size of them when they start operating .

  11. But the light rail should go down the middle of the motorway so that it doesn’t interfere with the on or off ramps.I wonder if that’s possible maybe have a lane on each of the two bridges.So stations at motorway level with a simple set of stairs up to the motorway overbridges. Maybe there’s away to still engineer it.But really its a major rebuild of the motorway.

    1. It couldn’t be stairs, it would have to be ramps suitable for wheelchair and mobility impaired. Note that I disagree with it being in the middle of the motorway, but want to clarify what would be needed.

  12. The last Mangere Bridge took 10 years to construct so if they start building in 2020 we can expect it to open some time around 2030. (For those too young to remember there were 2 years of construction and 8 years of strikes.)

    1. That is true for the original “new” bridge built in the 1970/80s but the subsequent bridge built beside it in the mid 2000s only took a couple of years to construct from memory

  13. this looks like a repeat of the hatchet job done in not making the last manakau harbour rail capable like they were supposed to have done.

    1. At the end of the day, there’s always one person responsible for the outcomes. The hard part is finding that one person who is acting like a petulant teen and giving them the boot for their refusal to follow instructions. A good house cleaning of senior managers is always good for not only appearances, but also morale among the workers.

  14. A rail corridor was made beside the motorway past Rimu Rd during the previous reconfiguration, when the whole motorway was shifted east. Are we talking about using this?
    Where would the LRT service depot go, or are we talking about running the line from the proposed Mt Roskill depot to Mangere?
    Where is the route going on the Onehunga side? Who owns the land?
    Its been a while since LRT replaced HR as the preferred option. Has anyone actually been doing anything to progress the design and enable the project? Where is the detail?
    So it looks like building the footbridge is all that can be achieved in the medium term, pretty sad.

    1. There has been discussion about various route options – basically speed vs coverage. NZTA have been very quiet from their side.

      From a long term city development view, a station within Mangere Bridge township is the best option. Coronation Road/Bader Ave provide the best coverage for West Mangere. They feed the planned intensification. High freq LRT is very (very+) good as short hop trips.

      Roskill/Onehunga/Mangere Bridge/Mangere provide the strong residential core oriented at the harbour for place making. The City, Airport and Manukau are all accessible as employment/education centers.

      Wiri is the best place for a heavy (LRT) depot. Onehunga to Airport then Manukau is the best option for the first stage LRT network. Both of those two aspects work together. A light stable depot could be placed Mt Roskill when the network extends into the city, but I don’t think there is enough space for a heavy engineering depot.

      1. So are you thinking a combined LRT / active mode etc bridge would best come from the port area & so the LRT alignment would best be routed then down Coronation Rd it’s full length, so it would eventually get to SH20A from Bader Dr, rather than try and get back to the motorway SH20 alignment too soon (eg a sharp left onto Rimu St to SH20)

        1. So if the light rail route is going to be through Onehunga and Mangere bridge and not follow the motorway alignment why get NZTA to build it.

    2. Just further to that about owning the land. If the light rail runs from mt roskill to onehunga along the motorway does that mean they are using the avondale -southdown kiwirail designation?. Can the government just take it ? Or does kiwirail have to agree to give it up?

      1. It is mostly NZTA land, note that the ASL designation leaves the motorway at Hillsborough and sidles across to Southdown.

        They will likely negotiate with Kiwirail to lease the land where the LR tracks cross the ASL to access NZTA corridor.

        1. I doubt they would lease land to something that would become a permanent transport link in auckland. That would mean giving up the designation altogether.

          1. They have quite happily leased to NZTA for motorways in the past, they enjoy the revenue. They will just put a stipulation that NZTA must pay for any works to either trench or bridge the ASL where the LR line crosses if the ASL ever gets built.

            The works won’t be cheap but it would be a pretty safe bet for NZTA that ASL won’t ever be built.

  15. I think at times NZTA stands for “National’s ZealotsTransport Agency” Prior to closing the current bridge we were being told that the long planned replacement would be looked at after the East West link was built. Is this another project that’s again being held up with “process” in the hope that a change of government will happen soon.

  16. Is the so called Heavy Rail ‘lobby’ in reality often big money / road lobby trying to confuse things and upset the progressive Public Transport & Human Design inspirations this Blog has been so successful at promoting. The nasty put-down name calling above is the sort of thing I see being paid for with fake accounts on social media ala Dirty Politics / trumpism etc..

    1. I don’t think there is a “Heavy Rail Lobby” as such. There are simply a number of us who believe that heavy rail options should remain on the table as they have considerable merit. Does this constitute a “lobby”?

      What has happened is that the light rail lobby (or group of enthusiasts) has been busy trying to push heavy rail out of consideration by repeatedly making incorrect and misleading claims about it.

      1. “light rail lobby (or group of enthusiasts) has been busy trying to push heavy rail out of consideration by repeatedly making incorrect and misleading claims about it.”

        HR pushed itself out of the equation because its inferior on almost every metric.

        It doesn’t need anybody misrepresenting it. And no one is doing that, except those with their head in the sand who think its viable. That’s the misleading claim here.

        1. “light rail lobby (or group of enthusiasts) has been busy trying to push heavy rail out of consideration by repeatedly making incorrect and misleading claims about it.”

          There you go again, KLK.

          1. But by all means, Dave B, continue with the tin-hat conspiracy theories.

            It’s really working.

      2. Heavy Rail South and West from Auckland Central using the existing corridors and the CRL extension still has an ultimate carrying capacity, and ultimate catchment, that is far far less then that can be provided by having both, the upgraded heavy rail system and light rail via Dominion Road.

        1. Agreed Don, it would be ideal to have both. That’s why I consider it important not to push heavy rail options off the table. And it may be expedient to pursue heavy rail extensions ahead of light rail, given that the latter has to start from absolute scratch. My concern is that opponents of doing more with heavy rail love to exaggerate its costs and denigrate its capabilities.

          Certainly, the existing rail corridors will provide less capacity and catchment than adding a whole new LRT route. Maybe even far less. But I disagree that it would be “far far less”. That’s going a bit too far :o)

          1. What are you trying to achieve with HR? Is it rail to the airport or providing a rapid transit solution to a new corridor that happens to go to the airport?

          2. Dave what makes upgraded capacity on Dominion Road necessary ASAP is that even with double decker buses the bus routes south, and bus handling facilities within the CBD, are at the limits of efficient capacity, regardless of any airport to CBD passengers. The North Shore busway buses are similarly approaching the same bus handling issues in the CBD, which is why light rail makes sense for the proposed West Auckland Rapid transport route and eventual conversion for the North Shore busway via a new PT harbour crossing.

          3. Mike G – definitely the latter. To pick up additional catchments including the airport and feed them into the CRL-enabled existing network. The current HR network works very well for the catchments that it serves. It just doesn’t serve enough catchments.
            My preference would have been to upgrade and extend the Onehunga Line to Mangere, the airport, and possibly beyond to rejoin the NIMT or connect to Manukau. Even with the impediments that have been thrown in the path of this, I cannot believe that a focussed effort on making it happen could not come up with an optimal solution. However I am not claiming this as necessarily the best or only way of doing it.

            Don – Agree something needs to be done on Dom Road starting now. LR from the city makes a lot of sense, and eventually this may connect to the airport, but I don’t see building this all the way to the airport as the immediate imperative. Let Airport HR and Dom Rd LRT happen concurrently. Neither are particularly massive projects on the scale of motorway-building.
            As for the NW and N Shore, to me this is also heavy-rail territory, or at least some kind of rail that has an exclusive right of way, all the way. I do not believe funnelling these sort of catchments into LRT on city streets is the way to go.

          4. Dave
            Fanshaw Street has multiple lanes so plenty of LRT vehicle capacity . Queen Street, also if other vehicles are excluded. On Street stops in the CBD are a huge advantage in increasing the accessabilty of LRT over a buried HR system. The disadvantages are mainly to other road vehicles, (who cares), but some speed degradation to the service, and lower pedestrian amenity then a pedestrian only street, which of course Queen Street is not.
            Heavy Rail on the NW motorway alignment begs the question of What to do at at the CBD end? Another tunnelled underground rail connection with another set of stations seems the only option and this could only be viable with a further through line to the North Shore . An absolutely massive project that whould have be some years away, further then the LRT solutions promoted by Greater Auckland.

          5. Hi Don. Won’t try and argue detail, but if you combine the likely patronage of rail services from the NW, N Shore, East and SW/airport you will not be wanting to feed them all down Queen Street at-grade. These are metro-rail roles, not street-LRT.

            The accessibility argument (against HR) is a bit of a myth. Currently Auckland’s HR has only one CBD access-point, and yet look how successful it is. PT-use has to combine with some degree of walking, whatever option is chosen. Various European cities have chosen to underground their LR through the CBD and the results are premium, both for the service and for the streets above, (Cite: Lausanne, Stuttgart, now Karlsruhe. . .).

            As regards the “massiveness” of such a project, the time to do it would be when PT tunnels for an AWHC are also being built, and it would form part of the overall scheme. Whether CBD on-street LRT as an interim is worth it depends on the likely timescale of this. My prediction however is that the sheer passenger throughput from these major metro routes would unacceptably dominate the street-environment. I don’t think the numbers have been properly crunched by advocates of this.

            The high cost now of doing things properly is an unfortunate consequence of Auckland’s total failure to plan for PT corridors in the past. Maybe street LR in the CBD will buy some time, but it is not a long-term solution, any more than street-LR replacing the London Underground or Crossrail would be. I would suggest that each of the above routes would be more akin in scale to a single underground line, and much more intensive than most on-street LR routes.
            (Yes, I know there are a few high-end exceptions but these are not the norm. Note how Karlsruhe has now been forced to underground its main CBD LR corridor, and that is in addition to having a through HR service at the edge of the CBD).

          6. I agree that an LRT tunnel will be needed once we have the airport, NW and northern LRT in. That’s 20 years away, though. We should build the LRT up Queen Street as part of the airport route and reap the benefits of having the stops at street level until the capacity requirements prevent it. Then we either connect it directly to the NW line and upgrade to driverless light metro or connect both to the north shore line through a tunnel that would end roughly where Queen Street crosses the motorway and use the Queen Street tracks as a city centre distributor or connect them to another new isthmus route.

          1. Dave I don’t disagree in the long run. But Queen St LR will serve the medium term fine, and still be of fantastic value and use when the time comes to separate off parts of it to new city routes to add even more capacity. In this way I see it as a great and lossless way of staging.

            We can connect Shore LR to Queen St at the start, with a plan to add a new cross city tunnel later to handle the growing demand. Or can have a go a biting down hard on a tunnel to say Aotea Station for a fully grade separate first stage.

            At the moment I’m agnostic on what’s best as a stage one, the work has yet to be done. Certainly each have their appeal, the later would mean the option of driverless Light Metro like Vancouver (though with longer platforms), with the opex benefit that brings. The former has the promise of a one seat ride from Albany to Airport…

            First order of business is to ditch the road crossing diehards, and put that energy and expertise into designing the rail options as LR is delivered on the two first lines.

          2. Patrick, my concern is that we are underestimating the likely patronage of these proposed LR routes. And we all know that such underestimation is NZ’s forte!
            Maybe the way forward is for the first route (whichever it is) to run through the streets and prove a guide as to whether more lines could be added medium-term, or whether a segregated corridor is essential. If such a ‘trial’ could be installed without overly committing the city to what might turn out to be a wrong approach, then ok. But I would hate to see large amounts of time and money wasted on what may well be a false start. There is plenty of evidence from elsewhere that this would be metro-rail territory.

  17. Anyone else get the impression this blog increasing reads like an Alex Jones tin foil hat conspiracy comments section.

    1. In what sense?

      NZTA is proving far less communicative than AT (which boggles the mind) regarding core projects and AT is using (if you look at the RPTP stuff) a combination of NZTA and the ambiguities caused by the CRL’s being under construction to bypass concerns about the delivery of projects, the quality of the operation of old and new projects and so on. Phil Twyford has also disappeared off the face of the Earth (which given how omnipresent he was for a while there is also mind-boggling). Similarly, the coalition seems more divided than ever and it’s become quite a lot clearer how little progress has happened.

      Then when you remember that while people don’t seem particularly happy with Simon Bridges it’s not like he’s killing National… who have in the mean time been pretty clear that they’ll try to reverse literally everything they can if they win again. So not only is progress not really happening on anything other than the CRL we have very real expectations that unless the next election returns a Labour or Greens led government this progress will never get beyond wherever it is at currently anyway.

      Oh, and in addition to that improvements to HOP are very unlikely since HOP will be replaced reasonably soon with a new national public transport card. This, at least, has a silver lining since the replacement won’t be Snapper ether.

      With the end of the new network, it seems like AT (who it mus be remembered came up with LRT all on their own) have done pretty much everything in their power. Everything that’s left has either been taken out of their hands or requires a lot of public consultation whilst simultaneously mildly inconveniencing car users (i.e. it’s going to be a lot of negative public consultation). Please, tell me, what is there to be optimistic about?

      The best urban/transport news I can remember was a story about some blackguard painting over dotted yellow lines in front of a takeaway and the owner’s of the takeaway saying they want them back ASAP since the parked cars hide their frontage, i.e. are bad for business.

      1. ‘So not only is progress not really happening on anything other than the CRL’
        Just 2 months to go and we will find out if the CRL will progress 🙂
        I’m optimistic that, as someone else commented, “all hell will break loose” with CRL works happening the rest of this year. Please God no excuses for delaying

      2. I seem to remember it was NZTA who first came up with Airport LRT idea, despite their current heal-dragging.

        1. No it was AT that developed light rail entirely, NZTA were absent from the process for the first couple of years, and then were instructed to push an “advanced bus” alternative to try and sink ATs plans and not fund anything, Only since the new government have they been involved.

    2. Yes I’ve noted a lot of conspiracy theories from the commenters on these articles. If it’s not the NZTA it’s the national party (who aren’t actually in government) or some other mysterious third party who are depriving them of exactly what they want. It could never be for purely innocent reason, or because of something they support (the Labour party actually in government).

      It’s usually the sign you’re dealing with a fanciful, irrational crank.

      1. “a fanciful, irrational crank”

        Fed up your:

        – poor attitude
        – frequent insults
        – frequent demands for evidence but never providing any of your own
        – claims of political neutrality while being obviously biased

        Maybe you should check out the user guidelines …

        Please cut out the ad hom BS, makes it look like you’ve got no real argument.

        1. Last bit aside though, he has a point, no?

          Isn’t there a user guideline about repeated arguing without substantiation? i.e. that HR has been the victim of some imaginary conspiracy?

          Most of us are neutral on these matters and defer to the analysis. Only one side has done it, the rest are just chasing their tail.

          1. It seems unlikely that Daniel Eyre of all people is suggesting that it’s a conspiracy theory to argue against Heavy Rail. He is extraordinarily obstinate in his support for it.

            This could be a sign of a functioning discourse (if you believe policy ought to be achieved through a process of equilibrium between dedicated advocates of projects) or a sign of dysfunction (if you’re a “new data, new opinion” die hard) or something a bit more ambiguous (e.g.. if you believe policy should work more like Bayesian updating… i.e. prior beliefs matter too). This last position is also the most realistic and the middle one (to which you seem to subscribe KLK) is quite unrealistic.

            That being said, I don’t think it is particularly fair to suggest Daniel Eyre doesn’t bring sources. I think they’re irrelevant to the issue at hand and I know for a fact at least some have been misread but there’s very much present and applied to the argument.

          2. Thank you KLK.
            The irony of how this gk has accused me of “frequent demands for evidence but never providing any of your own” (when actually I’m the one who backs himself up) when this is about how we see all of these absurd conspiracy theories and unfounded speculations is incredible.

        2. “Please cut out the ad hom BS”
          Is “ad hom” and abbreviation of ad hominem?

          Because if it is: That accusation makes no logical sense given I haven’t even named anyone.

          Nothing I’ve done breaches the user guidelines. And there’s a far stronger case for people who respond to me breaching them.
          I guess I’ve hit a raw nerve. Rather than merely illustrate my point (especially witht he accuation of bias), you could just simply not read my posts or (heaven forbid) consider what I’ve said and do some self-reflection (that thing cranks don’t ever do).

  18. Author might want to have a chat to Treasury and NZSuperfund before slagging off NZTA on light rail.

    Why the hell do you people think this stuff is easy?

    1. Why talk to Treasury and NZ Superfund? Isn’t it NZTA who is managing the LRT project?
      This stuff is not rocket science, it is easy and how easy would be a lot more evident if NZTA had the ability to provide some basic communications concerning the LRT. Transparency not secrecy is needed.

      1. It’s the NZ Superfund with the help of the Canadians who want to put the money in it to build both the airport and NW line and run both but it looks as if NZTA want to get all the praise for a job well done which would be typical for a group that all they want to do is just throw a lot of spanners in the works to just delay delay delay .

        1. They did the same with the Hamilton – Auckland service and if they had said we will do it right off without going through the 3 different local Authorities that service would have been up and running October this year instead now we won’t see until March next if that

  19. Just looking at that image of underneath the two motorway bridges it appears the eastern one has been built with earthquake proofing via those large rubber washers between supports and roadbed whereas western one is solid concrete.
    Is there insufficient space here to have a rail line or two, LR or HR? suspended underneath? Would those concrete supports handle a clip on for rail?

    1. Incredibly unlikely that those bridges would have adequate capacity to add an additional one, let alone two, rail lines.

  20. NZTA is a “transport” agency.

    Irrespective of whether it is party to an MOU it should have a “transport” position on providing/replacing connectivity for active modes.

  21. Can’t they just photocopy the plans prepared by the Skypath people and attach a composite tube on the side of the existing bridge? That way the design would be free.

  22. A transport hub at the Port of Onehunga makes absolute sense when you consider the future potential to unlock the Manukau for recreation and transport via ferries. With ferries operating on the harbour, locations like Clarks Beach would be enhanced for commuting and tourism. Onehunga Port also seems logical for running light rail alongside the motorway and out to Western suburbs, while the Onehunga station track could be extended to the port to complete the link with existing transport connections from Onehunga. What I’d hate to see is a third bridge introduced at a later stage adding more visual pollution to the harbour, and further compromising the upper harbour access. The various agencies need to start working together and stop the silo mentality that has persisted for so long now. This also needs to be considered in relation to EWL works, which are currently being re-worked by the NZTA. While they are at it they should also be looking at the viability of completing the reclamation between Taumanu Reserve and the Port of Onehunga, as there will never be a better time to do so than in conjunction with these other projects. Oh, but that is compromised by Auckland Council insisting the coast at this point is an ONF and ignoring requests to remove the ONF designation so that sensible planning can take place. (ONF stands for Outstanding Natural Feature, but in reality it means Onehunga’s Neglected Foreshore). Good work Nicholas.

      1. NZ Bus depot is very close to the train station. But I doubt that Panuku has enough cash to buy enough land in order to do that in the short term.

        The existing bus station block is being upgraded and is 150m from the train station. Maybe a better route than Pearce to Selweyn work help.

        The Council should start it’s agreement with TOES to do a proper Master Plan.

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