Good news yesterday with the council approving $500 million to cover their share of the extra City Rail Link costs. The decision came after a marathon meeting where Councillors started on the topic at 9:30am and didn’t finally make the decision till just after 4pm. In the end just two Councillors voted against providing the extra funding needed, they were Grey Sayers and Mike Lee. As expected, all along the way there was various amounts of grandstanding by some Councillors and clearly frustration from others at it all.
Perhaps the most interesting parts of the meeting that I saw were the presentations and answers from City Rail Link themselves. One thing that stood out was how much we’re now in a “sellers market” for big projects like CRL. As Chair Sir Brian Roche and CEO Dr Sean Sweeney said, there is so much work out there that contractors effectively get to choose what projects they want to work on. Delay things and there’s a risk they might walk away from the project altogether to focus on something else and that would mean the whole tender process would have to start again and the project would end up even more expensive. The scale of this is reflected in the comments at the announcement before Easter (and again yesterday) that the infrastructure pipeline in Australasia has jumped from $80 billion to $230 billion in less than two years.
During the meeting two of the more hotly debated topics were around the carparks and the government contribution. On the first of these, Councillors agreed to rule out the option of selling the AT carparks which would leave options such as leasing or redeveloping on the table. Many Councillors also wanted to see the government contribute to the increased cost more and they ultimately agreed they would formally write to the government asking for them to pay more. As mayor Goff and others pointed out though, this is unlikely to be very successful given he already had and been told no, and the agreement between council and government is quite clear about each picking up 50% of the costs.
While it would be ideal not to have had these extra costs, it’s great that the project has been able to pass this hurdle and that the funding was agreed. This is critical for City Rail Link so they can get on with the project and not endure any delays. It should also mean that over the next few weeks they’ll be able to confirm the contracts so they can get started, presumably later this year.
Mayor Phil Goff is clearly happy with the result
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the Auckland Council Governing Body’s approval of an additional $500 million in funding for the transformational City Rail Link was the right decision.
Mayor Phil Goff said, “This project is critical to the future of this city. More than $700 million has already been invested in the first two stages of the tunnel. Without the CRL, Auckland will hit gridlock and the city will grind to a halt.
“The CRL is the biggest investment Council is making in transport infrastructure in the next few years. Securing additional funding ensures it will be future-proofed for growth.
For anyone who wants to watch the meeting, or parts of it, you can see the videos below
1. This is the presentation from Viv Beck and subsequent questions.
2. This section is City Rail Link presenting and answering questions.
3. Presentations from Council Officers on scope and funding issues.
4. The debate between Councillors including on a number of amendments and at the end, the final decision.