It’s Friday again so here’s our weekly roundup.
Aotea Station Construction Begins
The City Rail Link reached another milestone this week with the two Phil’s (Twyford and Gofff) officially kicking off the work to build the walls of the station. Up until now the work in and around the station location has been about moving services but is now starting to move to the actual station itself.
The first walls for the Aotea station are being built outside the Auckland Council’s offices at the Wellesley Street/Albert Street/Mayoral Drive intersection. Mayor Goff says the station will transform the city centre.
Aotea’s innovative design, which tells the unique stories of Tāmaki Makaurau, has already won international recognition and will be a striking addition to central Auckland,” Mr Goff says.
“When it opens, CRL will double the number of people able to travel into and through the city centre, carrying up to 54,000 people an hour during peak times. The project will create a better Auckland, reducing traffic congestion and transforming our city centre into a vibrant place to spend time in.” Aotea Station will be 15 metres deep and 300 metres long. Preparations are being finalised for the start of wall construction next week when the twin rotating blades on the hydrofraise will cut narrow trenches into the ground. The trenches will eventually be filled with concrete for diaphragm or D walls that will support the station. Most of the station’s foundation walls will be D walls – in total, 152 panels will be installed up to 21 metres deep.
Aotea’s walls and roof are being constructed first and dirt will then be removed for the station platforms and concourse. Working top-down will reduce the impact of construction at street level.
Another milestone will be reached in just over a week’s time (5 July) when the Mt Eden station will close until 2024 as the upgraded station and new junction are built.
Puhinui Station Interchange
Another station that’s currently closed for a major upgrade is Puhinui and this week Auckland Transport announced they’d awarded the main contract to build it.
Auckland Transport continues to play its role in helping the economy recover, with new local employment opportunities following confirmation of the Puhinui Station Interchange main works contract.
McConnell Dowell and the Built Environs joint venture has been awarded the contract to complete the project, which follows on from their early works contract for a total construction award value of $46.6 million.
Although Covid-19 has pushed the completion date out to the second quarter of 2021, the project is still progressing quickly, with a number of key milestones reached in the past few months including the installation of foundations, columns and lift shafts for the station.
The completion of the station being pushed out to the second quarter of 2021 is a shame as it was initially intended to be completed in time for the America’s Cup – not that I imagine many potential spectators would have used it, if they’re even allowed in the country by then.
Auckland Transport have put a timelapse of the work so far in the video below.
“The Puhinui Station Interchange will guarantee reliable and convenient connections for bus and train commuters and help ease congestion". Puhinui Station Interchange main works contract awarded.
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) June 22, 2020
Also part of the wider project is to upgrade State Highway 20B by adding priority lanes for buses – although they will also be able to be used by cars with multiple occupants, something that is disappointing given it’s being paid for out of the Public Transport budget and is likely to cause delays for buses when the lanes need to merge to cross the Pukaki Creek bridge. This week Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency started night works between 9pm and 4am in a bid to catch up from the delays caused by COVID-19.
Pets on trains
Auckland Transport had been trialling allowing pets on trains and this week it was announced it would become a permanent thing.
Auckland Transport has carried out two trials and has surveyed train customers.
Stacey van der Putten, Group Manager of Metro Services says the majority of people who completed the survey, support having pets on trains, with only 12 per cent opposed.
“Our customers have really enjoyed being able to take their fur companions on the trains. Pet owners have been very supportive of the protocols that have been put in place to allow this initiative to happen.”
Councillor Cathy Casey has been the main advocate for pets on trains and she is delighted that the trial has become permanent.
“This is another fantastic step towards making Auckland a more dog friendly city. We are finally catching up with the great cities of Europe where pets are welcomed on all forms of public transport.”
Pets can go on trains on weekdays 9am to 3pm and after 6:30pm. They can travel all-day on weekends and on public holidays.
All dogs must either be wearing an approved muzzle and lead or can be travelling in an approved pet carrier.
RMA to consider Emissions
One of a number of changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) could have important implications for transport projects as it will allow the consideration of emissions in consenting processes.
On climate change mitigation, this Bill aligns the RMA and the Zero Carbon Act by requiring RMA decision-makers to consider the emissions reduction plans and national adaptation plans that must be published under the ZCA. These amendments allow local authorities to consider greenhouse gas emissions in their plan-making and consenting once national direction on climate change mitigation is promulgated.
This article in the Spinoff covers off the view from the Green Party on the change.
I wonder if this will mean it becomes harder to get consents for new motorway projects? In the UK, opponents of a third runway at Heathrow won a landmark case earlier this year with court of appeal ruling the decision to build it illegal as it didn’t take into account the government’s commitments to address climate change. This has already spurred on campaigners to set their sights on their government’s motorway building plans for similar reasons.
Finally a few quick ones.
There will be plenty that is said about Wednesday’s light rail news in the coming weeks and months. I put together a brief history of how the project got to this point for the Spinoff.
Stuff have put together this fantastic article about what we learnt during lockdown and how it can help us to tackle climate change.
Half of our 15 new trains have now arrived in the country. These new trains are initially being used only on the Onehunga Line as they have a new control system to interface between the train and signalling systems that requires additional driver training. Once that’s happened though, and the system is rolled out to the rest of the fleet it will apparently allow trains to be sped up which is positive.
More new trains! Numbers 7 & 8 arrived last week – (AM877 & AM892 for my fellow nerds). This marks the half way point for the new arrivals, and it was first time in a while two arrived at the same time. Takes a bit of coordination! pic.twitter.com/CiOUy8BGvH
— John (@johnage) June 24, 2020
HOP gates have now gone live at Papakura. These join Britomart, Henderson, Manukau, Manurewa, Newmarket, New Lynn, Otahuhu, Papatoetoe and Parnell to have them installed. Gates are also intended to be installed at Middlemore and mean that over 90% of train trips will pass through at least one gated station.