Every weekend we dig into the archives. This post was first published in August 2011.
As a kid I was always fascinated by the bizarre interchange between New North Road and Dominion Road, between Kingsland and Eden Terrace. You know the one – it looks like this: From Dominion Road/Ian McKinnon Drive, the interchange looks like this:
You can see from the above photos how “out of place” the interchange is with its surrounding area. This is further reinforced when you see what the interchange looks like from above: The interchange, as well as the semi-motorway that is Ian McKinnon Drive, exists because it is the first section of what was to be a complete motorway down Dominion Road (or very close to it). This was a key part of the 1960s motorway plan for Auckland (the Dominion Road motorway is outlined in red): It’s pretty common knowledge that our transport priorities in the 1960s were crazy, leaving us with some pretty massive urban scars like this interchange. But I wonder if it could make sense to remove this excessively large interchange – humanising this part of Auckland, freeing up some space for development and maybe even the whole thing could be self-funding?
To look at the issue a bit more closely, let’s see how much space the current interchange actually takes up – as shown in the map below it’s around a whopping 5 hectares – 50,000 square metres (assuming those places on Ace Place have an area of around 2,000 square metres):
Even if we remove the interchange, we’re still going to need to dedicate some space through this area to roads – something like what’s below:
To link up a few of the local roads (like Aitken Terrace) it might require a bit more space, but probably not too much (say around 2000 square metres). So overall, broadly, it seems that we could free up around 30,000 square metres for development through this area – 3 hectares!
How much might three hectares of urban land be worth around here? To get some sort of idea, let’s take a look at the land value of a nearby site: With this 422 square metre site having a land value of $630,000 – that equates to around $1500 a square metre. Multiply that by 30,000 and you get around $44.7 million. And that’s just taking the land value of a site with a fairly small building on it as our guide – potentially you could build quite high densities around the intersection of two major arterials.
Perhaps we could tie this in with the building of the City Rail Link project – as the Western Line in this area will probably need to be lowered quite a bit to ease the slop of the Rail Link tunnel.
The Albert-Eden Local Board has been pushing this concept for some time and passed a Notice of Motion on the matter 5 years ago. We called for the redundant interchange to be seen as a planning and development opportunity for the city and not simply as a transport project. We also pointed out that this could be a unique project as it will pay for itself (the land value will far exceed the cost of dismantling the existing intersection and replacing it with a perfectly ordinary signalised at-grade intersection on a smaller footprint).
Over the next few years various Council departments collaborated on investigating options and preparing a high-level development plan – but it all went on hold 2 years ago pending the outcome of the light rail project. I was in regular communication with the Auckland Light Rail Office – making it clear that the interchange demolition and replacement could proceed independently of (and hence in advance of) light rail construction, provided that it was future-proofed for the latter project. But then the government stepped in and effectively moved decision-making on this project to Wellington, so the interchange project is on hold at least until Easter when (we are told) Cabinet will make its decision on which of the two contenders for the light rail should proceed. As I understand it, both proposals would pass through the intersection of New North and Dominion Roads. My understanding is that government will want to make quick progress – but finalising the design, gaining consents and going through an international expressions of interest process will probably take 2 years or more – besides which nobody wants to dig up yet more inner city streets as we approach Auckland’s big year of 2021 (Americas Cup in March and APEC in November). Given all that delay, government might just be grateful for the opportunity to be seen to be delivering something tangible before 2022 by attending to the interchange project as an “enabling work” for light rail.
What gets me is how people are saying the LR works will affect the Americas cup and the APEC conference , So what are they going to do sail the yachts up Queen st ? and they could start/preparing the LR section out South and Dominion Rd , as most of the attendees will not be traveling that route and with the work out at Mangere none off them will be driving down he median strip along the Motorway .
So there should be no disruption if they do it that way .
Good luck with dismantling it, rebuilding replacement roads with signalised intersections and relocated services for under $50m!
Quite simply this nice thought idea is just that.
The junction does its job and unless it becomes structurally unsound or land prices double again there is simply no justification for removing it as it will be a waste of ratepayers money (let alone that signalised intersections are more dangerous so there are costs associated with accidents there). There is plenty of land (both brown and greenfields) in Auckland for now. This project is definitely one to kick the can down the road for. Maybe in 20 years it could be justified, in the meantime I’m sure AT has better things to spend money on (public transport in particular).
That’s just the land prices. If you actually redevelop with apartments and commercial as part of the project and sell that, then the payout will be WAY higher than $50mil. It will also increase surrounding property values because they will benefit from having an eyesore and barrier to movement replaced with a complete neighbourhood. It would also eliminate traffic rat running through the adjacent streets to make turns that aren’t provided by the flyover, which will further increase values and offset some of the safety implications of at-grade intersections, not to mention the safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians that are currently finding themselves exposed to crossing gaping ramp mouths and having to dart across 60kph (more like 80kph as people actually drive) expressways or duck through dodgy tunnels. There will also be travel time benefits to bus users on NNR who will be able to have a continuous bus lane instead of being stuck in the line of single-occupant vehicles through the underpass.
“The payout will be WAY higher”
and unicorns exist too…
Slight uplift in rates… so when you work out the interest costs on loan you need for the demo and rebuild (as the sale of land won’t cover it), even with a slight increase in rates you’re not even going to touch the interest costs let alone the principle.
Most of those other things you mentioned could be fixed quickly and cheaply if it was desired.
As for the bus users, you forget that even with bus priority, buses will need to go through an intersection. If you’re wanting to build bus lanes as well (they’re a good thing) but they then add further costs to this redevelopment.
Kinda sounds like you want to do the neo-lib thing of privatising the profits (increased property values/amenity, which socialising the loses (making the council take on debt to achieve your plan).
I have lived in Auckland 15 years and I still get confused by that interchange. I actually can’t figure out where I’ll end up if I use one of those ramps. And I’m usually pretty good with navigation. Great to see it’s removal in the revised city centre master plan – let’s get it done!
How would you work out what the cost of NOT doing this a decade ago is? There could’ve been homes for people all this time.
The Auckland Architecture Association (AAA) ran its first Public Good urban design competition at the Festival of Architecture this year. The focus this year was the Dominion Road Flyover.
A team of Landscape Architects from Boffa Miskell won the competition.
See below for more info: