Two weeks ago the government announced they’d kicked off a search for infrastructure projects fill a recovery pipeline.
The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say.
The Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, to be headed by Crown Infrastructure Partners chairman Mark Binns, will put forward to Ministers projects from the private and public sector that are ‘shovel-ready’ or likely to be within six months.
However, the Government is also planning ahead for when that time comes,” Phil Twyford said.
“That’s why we are now developing a pipeline of infrastructure projects from across the country that would be ready to begin as soon as we are able to move around freely and go back to work.
“The types of projects the Government would consider funding include water, transport, clean energy and buildings. They would also have a public or regional benefit, create jobs and be able to get underway in short order,” Phil Twyford said.
At the same time Mayor Phil Goff put out a list of potential projects Auckland could ask for.
Yesterday the council announced a list of 73 priority projects including quite a few that are not transport related and many of which are already under construction – although that was one of the categories of projects the government were asking for. Here’s the press release.
Auckland Council has submitted a list of 73 priority projects to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, the taskforce set up by the Government to seek out ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects that can start quickly to stimulate the economy and reduce the economic impact of COVID-19.
The list is made up of two parts: 30 key projects ranked in order of priority and a further 43 projects that are not ranked but that also meet the Government criteria.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “The 30 key projects are ready to go and fully meet the Government’s criteria. They will help stimulate the economy and employment and produce long-term benefits for both the city and country. They reflect the economic, social and environmental objectives that both Auckland Council and the Government have committed to.”
Many of the projects included in the submission were already underway or planned to start within the next 6-12 months but have been put on hold due to the nationwide shutdown, including the City Rail Link, the Eastern Busway and the Puhinui Interchange.
Other projects submitted to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group include:
- Downtown Infrastructure Development Programme
- North western Busway Improvements
- Rosedale Bus Station
- Te Whau Pathway
- Puhinui Stream Restoration Programme
- Marae Upgrade Programme
- Works to enable Kāinga Ora housing projects in Northcote, Tamaki and Mt Roskill
Phil Goff says, “Prior to COVID-19, Auckland Council was on track to deliver a capital works programme exceeding $2B for the financial year.
“As the region with a third of the nation’s population and almost 40% of the nation’s gross domestic product, Auckland Council’s current and planned infrastructure programme will be absolutely critical to the success of this stimulus initiative. I am confident that we are ready and able to play our part in partnership with the Government and the construction industry.”
Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Chris Darby, says, “Not only are these projects ‘shovel-ready’, they are also ‘future-ready’. This once in a generation investment will create jobs for Aucklanders who will build an enduring legacy for the city.”
Chair of the Finance and Performance Committee, Councillor Desley Simpson, says, “The list of projects meets the strategic vision and priorities set out in the Auckland Plan while providing ample opportunity for Auckland to play a key role in New Zealand’s broader economic recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Below are the list of projects the council have submitted. I’ve highlighted in blue the ones that I know are already under construction.
And here are the remaining 43 projects which they council say aren’t prioritised but given the weird ordering somehow feels like it has been prioritised.
There’s a little bit more detail on some of the projects in these minutes from the council’s emergency committee meeting but it’s a bit all over the place.
Many of the projects are fairly straightforward and things we’ve talked about before but a few of the projects that stuck out to me include:
Te Whau Pathway – I’m pleased to see this on the list but it is interesting as following consultation a few years ago the project has felt like nothing was happening with it.
Kumeu-Huapai projects – this includes the crazy Huapai Gyratory that we’ve discussed before.
Immediate cycling improvements (separation at existing cycling facilities and EOJ facilities at RTN stations) – This sound positive and I’m looking forward to hearing more about what is proposed.
Electric Buses – Presumably this is the infrastructure to support electric buses as was mentioned a few weeks ago.
Grade separation or closure of rail crossings (x7) pre-CRL – There’s no information on what seven crossings are included in this list but my assumption would be the four in Takanini and then three more out west.
Northern busway (early deliverables for interim improvements) – I understand this involves changes such as lengthening platforms and could also involve changes such as off-line fare payment and all door boarding
New rideshare (electric) – 100 vehicles – AT wants to take their weird money burning obsession with subsidising taxis in Devonport to more places. Stuff’s Todd Niall wrote about this recently. It’s also unclear how this fits in the infrastructure category.
Finally just quickly on why there are projects under construction on the list. These are asked for in the application guidelines where the “Construction Readiness Assessment” criteria section says.
CIP will consider the construction readiness of the project based on the PIF. We propose to adopt the following categorisation:
- Category A – Projects which currently are (or were) in the construction phase, but have been put on hold due to COVID 19 and are likely not to progress, or to progress at a much slower rate or scale/scope, if not supported post COVID 19.
- Category B – Projects which have a high expectation of commencing the construction phase within the next six months (by 31 October 2020), but are unlikely to do so due to COVID 19.
- Category C – Projects which could have been expected to commence the construction phase within the next 12 months (by 30 May 2021) but are unlikely to do so due to COVID 19.
I assume it is about whether if more money/resources were thrown at projects, could they still be delivered on time (or faster).