For a few years now, Waka Kotahi and Auckland Transport have been undertaking work to plan and protect key new transport corridors in the major planned greenfield development areas in Warkworth, the North, Northwest and South. They’ve called this programme ‘Supporting Growth‘. 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. Although they’ve also previously said the early estimates for the cost of these new and upgraded corridors is in excess of $10 billion, and I’ve heard suggestions they will cost more than $100,000 for each new home built.
Multiple rounds of consultation have resulted in indicative transport networks for each of the areas and showing at a high level where the key new arterial roads, rapid transit and walking and cycling corridors will be located.
In January the government announced their NZ Upgrade Programme and included in that was funding for a number of the core projects on the list for the growth in South Auckland. These are
- Mill Rd – the biggest single project at $1.354 billion,
- Widening of SH1 – between Papakura and Drury for $423 million
- Papakura to Pukekohe electrification – $371 million
- Two new Drury Stations – $247 million
Now they’re consulting on the South again to further refine where this infrastructure will go and that also means the decisions are starting to have greater consequence as it’s clearer where things like homes will be ‘in the way’.
As noted above, the NZUP provides funding for electrification and two new stations. The electrification probably doesn’t need too much explanation but they do say the project, which is due to start later this year, “includes electrification of 19km of track, an additional two platforms at Pukekohe station and futureproofing for additional lines“. It’s unclear if that future proofing for additional tracks extends to actually purchasing the land needed for them of if it is just allowing for them in their designs.
The more important issue with rail is where the new stations will go. This is an issue that has had quite a bit of discussion here before as the council have toyed with the idea of placing them in sub-optimal locations.
I still don’t get why two stations are costing $247 million when the massive Puhinui Station upgrade is only $60 million. They say the stations will include
park-and-ride facilities as well as a bus and rail interchange to make it easier for residents in the south to travel by public transport.
They also say:
We want as many people as possible to be able to access the stations by all types of transport – bus, foot, bike, scooter, and car, with park-and-ride and kiss-and-ride drop offs.
I’m concerned that they’re saying they want lots of people accessing these stations by park and ride as that is likely to create localised congestion and I wonder if a large portion of the costs is for parking buildings and associated road infrastructure.
While the NZUP is funding two new stations, there are actually three proposed in the area long term. For each of the stations the ‘sausage’, the area within which the station will sit, has shrunk
I’m glad they’ve pulled away from the idea of putting stations in poor locations to suit one developer. This station location looks better and presumably would eventually tie in to the SH22 connection.
When looking at all the new roads being proposed, I can’t help but be reminded that roads beget roads. The graphic below shows a cross-section of what the light rail in a car options could look like.
The NZUP funding will see the entire Mill Rd corridor completed from Redoubt Rd at Manukau through to an interchange with SH1 south of Drury, which in total would be a 21.5km corridor. The corridor has been split into four sections.
The northern end runs from Redoubt Rd to Alfriston Rd and is already designated by Auckland Transport – although as it will now be delivered by the NZTA so I wonder if AT are just expected to hand over the property they’ve already purchased of if the agency will buy them. The consultation is on the Takaanini, Papakura and Drury sections.
The preferred option is Option A with them saying they prefer it because it:
- makes good use of the existing road
- aligns with Auckland Council’s land use plan separating Future Urban Zoned land from rural land.
This section is where the impacts of the project are likely to be felt the most because the preferred option ploughs through existing communities. As you can see on the map below, it would plough through Dominion Rd, turning it from a quiet two-lane road into a four-lane high-traffic arterial.
They say this option is preferred because it:
- is a direct connection from the Takaanini to the Drury Section
- has fewer environmental and cultural impacts compared with going around the urban edge
- makes good use of existing roads
The reason given for option A being preferred is “because it will create a safer road, allow access for properties and avoids ecological areas east of Drury Hills Road“.
Once Mill Rd gets to the motorway, it won’t stop there and they’re also consulting on plans for the road to eventually get it to Pukekohe as an expressway, saying:
As the area becomes more urban with population growth, the new Pukekohe Expressway will improve access to Paerata, Pukekohe, the future township of Drury West and other future urban growth areas. This will create a more pedestrian-friendly environment along SH22 with connections to public transport and walking and cycling pathways, helping to reduce traffic
The preferred option is about keeping the expressway away from any potential future houses. They also don’t say if this will be a large four-lane road, like the Waikato Expressway or a two-lane version like the Hawkes Bay expressway. This project isn’t included in NZUP.
Pukekohe Urban Arterial
Once the expressway gets to Pukekohe they need that traffic to go somewhere so they’re also proposing a new urban arterial to distribute the traffic to SH22 and Pukekohe East Rd – although they indicate eventually it will extend further around Pukekohe.