Last week the Supporting Growth project released their indicative transport network maps for the greenfield growth areas in the North, Northwest and South. Combined these areas are expected to see more than 130,000 new homes and 76,000 new jobs – basically adding about two and a half Hamilton’s.
But if the council is serious about the climate emergency, and its finances, then it needs to make sure most of this sprawl never happens and these roads are never built.
The Supporting Growth programme has achieved a significant planning milestone with the publication of new indicative transport network maps for Auckland’s future growth areas.
The Indicative Strategic Transport Network plans identify what transport projects are needed over the next 10-30 years to support the development of new communities, employment and industrial areas in Warkworth, north, northwest and south Auckland.
The plans are developed by Te Tupu Ngātahi (the Supporting Growth Alliance), a collaboration between Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency, with consultants Beca, AECOM, Bell Gully and Buddle Findlay, to plan ahead and provide certainty to the community and stakeholders about what transport networks will be developed over the next few decades, in line with Auckland Council’s land use planning.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Director of Regional Relationships Steve Mutton says the plans aim to provide safe, accessible and sustainable travel choices that connect these new areas to the rest of the region and promote a greater use of public transport.
“The plans set out a shared vision by central and local government for long-term investment in Auckland’s future growth areas. It shows their commitment to working together over the next few decades to plan, fund and deliver a well-integrated transport network.”
Each of four main areas encompassed by the project were consulted on last year and some of the issues consulted on were issues such as whether the Northern Busway extension from Albany to Orewa stick close to the motorway for speed or divert a bit through all the proposed development.
Here are the indicative networks. Overall there is not a lot of change from what was proposed during the consultations. It is also worth noting that these are just the high-level strategic networks, such as the main arterial routes. If the developments happen it will require a lot more local roads that come off these. Also, while they show some active mode routes, these are just likely to be the main off-road routes as all arterial roads are expected to have separated bike lanes.
They have confirmed they want a southern interchange on Puhoi to Warkworth which even more begs the question of why such a massive interchange if the motorway is ever continued on past Warkworth. One thing that does seem to have been dropped from the consultation are the arterials on the Southeastern side of SH1.
An extension to the Northern Busway will divert away from the motorway and through the middle of the development which should mean that stations have a wider catchment which is positive. What’s also interesting it’s not flanked by an arterial road. It also appears, but is not clear, that it would shift the Silverdale station to the west of SH1 and possibly stop in Milldale. I do wonder how long the airport will be able to stay once all the development starts and if that happens, if there’s an opportunity to ease the sharpness of the busway diversion away from SH1.
There are also a couple of new motorway interchanges planned, one for Penlink and another at Wilks Rd.
One of the first things to notice is the planned State Highway bypass of Kumeu-Huapai, as well as the first part of any Rapid Transit route, would divert off almost directly after the Brigham Creek interchange. Given the RTN route could initially be just a two-lane busway, I wonder if that part could be prioritised to happen relatively quickly. It also looks like they’re really setting up the bypass to also eventually be extended past Waimauku.
There was also a discussion during the consultation as to whether they build a new North-South arterial or upgrade Nixon/Taupaki Rd. They have chosen the latter which would mean at least it would have some safety improvements.
The South still has a bunch of big arterial roads planned, such as the Mill Rd Corridor running all the way from Manukau to Pukekohe. I still don’t see how they’re going to create an east-west connection between Mahia Rd and Rangi/Popes Rd as in ~500m the new road would need to cross the railway line, stream and the motorway. That seems like it would end up a very large and expensive bridge.
While all of this work is really just a future proofing exercise and most of it not expected to until the long term, as mentioned at the start we really can’t afford for all of this to go ahead. The press release talks about the aim being to “provide safe, accessible and sustainable travel choices” but even a high PT and active mode-share in these areas will still result in a lot of people driving. That’s a lot more emissions and a lot more congestion.
The final kicker in all of this is the cost. The press release stating:
Early estimates for the cost of transport improvements over the next 30 years to support the growth areas are in excess of $10bn, with funding to be secured from both public and private sources.
My understanding is the figure is the actual figure is significantly in excess of $10 billion effectively working out at over $100,000 per home, and this is before the costs of delivering local roads off these arterials, or any of the other infrastructure that will be needed. Imagine if instead we took that money and poured it into making PT better within the existing urban area. It could be enough to add perhaps up to a dozen new rapid transit lines across the region which would benefit not only new residents but existing ones too.