In a time of emergency budgets cutting spending, Auckland Transport looks like it could have $47 million more to spend on projects around the region after the Devonport Local Board rejected ATs plans to upgrade Lake Rd. Radio NZ reports:

Auckland Transport’s $47 million plan to upgrade the only road in and out of Devonport could be dead in the water.

Four members of the local community board have quashed proposals for more cycle and transit lanes on Lake Road, used by about 30,000 motorists a day.

It means the funding could be off the table, leaving locals worried they’ll be contending traffic chaos for another decade before a new plan can be formed.

….

Auckland Transport has spent three years and $2 million coming up with a solution it released for public consultation in March, including transit lanes in the most congested parts of Esmonde Road and Lake Road, new and spruced up bike lanes, and electronic signs with estimated travel times.

While it was all set to get the green light, with $47m funding from Auckland Council’s Long Term Plan, it was given the thumbs down by four of six Devonport Takapuna Local Board members this month.

The detailed business case is due to go to the NZ Transport Agency in September for final approval, but Auckland Transport said it could be difficult to progress a project that a local board had voted against.

One of those that opposed the plan was board member and former Councillor George Wood who described the plan as AT holding “a shotgun at our heads” and that if they hold out, AT and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will come back with a better deal in the future.. Well, that’s a mighty expensive shotgun and there are a lot of other parts of Auckland, that are also seeing a lot more growth and don’t have ferries or subsidised taxis that would love investment of that scale. Far more likely is AT and NZTA will focus their attention on those areas.

One of the main problems with Lake Rd is that anything that will involve widening it is going to be extremely expensive and previous studies have found that level of cost unjustified. There’s also the not insignificant issue that even if you could make the road four lanes, much of the time it wouldn’t make all that much difference as the motorway is still going to be congested. As such, ATs focus has been on getting more out of the corridor. Their most recent consultation to upgrade Lake Rd back in March just before lockdown. AT’s proposal was to:

  • mainly making improvements to the cycleways along the road by physically protecting them with barriers – annoyingly they still stopped short of Takapuna itself.
  • add transit lanes in some sections, although this included downgrading the bus lanes on Esmonde Rd to transit lanes which also would have required a new or changed motorway onramp and has the potential to slow down the buses that use it – mainly the 82 which links Takapuna and Milford to the city.
  • add real-time signs so people know the traffic conditions and could make alternative plans if needed.
  • add a shared path on Bayswater Ave
  • include an upgrade to the Belmont Town Centre, however, the designs drawn up by the council were something from last century with design features such as unprotected cycle lanes outside parked cars – the old using cyclists as squishy barriers approach.

The key proposed changes are shown on the map below.

All of this is now up in the air and it seems AT are concerned that without the support of the local board, the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency won’t provide their share of funding.

What stood out to me was some of the comments in the Radio NZ piece above. Some of these are just vox pops on the street but it highlights how much more we have to go in how we think about and talk about transport. For example.

regular Devonport visitor Judith Pearce said it had become “absolutely dreadful”.

“I can’t leave where I am in Mt Wellington until at least quarter to 11[am]. Even today when I came… it was phenomenal,” she said.

Now we don’t know what Judith’s situation is but I wonder if she had ever even considered other travel options, such as catching a train to town and then the ferry?

Approaching the Lake Rd/Jutland Rd Intersection

Trish Deans was among four members who voted against it, worried it would not future-proof public transport, did not take into account the future expansion of Devonport, and would not help local residents who did not need to travel very far.

“AT have come up with a plan and I don’t think they’ve been entirely honest with the public. Their plan is to address some issues on Lake Road but also impose the greenways project on Lake Road as well. So that creates a kind of tension,” she said.

Without the expensive and unjustifiable widening of the road, it’s hard to see how much more AT could do in the corridor to future proof for public transport. And if the funding to widen the road magically did come about again in a few years, making the existing cycle lanes safe now is hardly going to prevent adding bus lanes in the future and is hardly imposing greenways on the road. Furthermore, those lanes are also often used by kids accessing Takapuna Grammar, where does she propose they go, mixing in with cars and buses?

The proposed intersection with Seabreeze Ave

As per another of the vox-pops they can’t use the backstreets either as those are filled with rat runners.

It seems this could all just be the board being too scared to make a decision given they’ve previously supported the approach taken.

In a statement, Auckland Transport said the general direction of its planning had always been clear and at the previous business case phase, the local board had already voted to support that direction.

It said the board’s decision this month was “somewhat of a surprise”. A member of the working group that came up with the plan, Paddy Stafford-Bush, was also surprised.

“It’s ridiculous. I think it’s because people are too frightened to put a stake in the ground and say ‘this is the way forward’ or ‘this is what we’re doing’,” she said.

Among board members who do like Auckland Transport’s plan is Toni van Tonder, who said it was well worth taking up the $47m and acknowledging the huge difference it will make to many residents.

….

“It definitely had [public] support for sure. It was saying what it was always going to say, and we were never going to do the high investment proposal some people were asking for,” she said.

“We knew the project would be compromised if we didn’t back it. I believe we should back it, do some tweaks, work alongside Auckland Transport and deliver something great for the community. That’s what we’re elected to do.”

Finally it’s probably a good thing the National Party have already announced their Auckland transport package otherwise we might have seen something really crazy like building a bridge across Ngataringa and Shoal Bays to bypass Lake Rd.

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53 comments

  1. Once again the poor, hard-done by residents of Devonport are forced to go without. Another injustice of incomparable magnitude across the isthmus.

    1. I know a few people that live there and its their favourite story how hard done by they are and all the transport spending goes elsewhere etc. I haven’t seen any council transport spending near us for 30 odd years unless you include some bus lane signs and paint.

      1. Look at the first picture in the post. North Shore City bought up shops on the left, knocked them down and built a right turn pocket. Then about 10 years later they bought the rebuilt shops, knocked them down and widened the same piece of road again.
        Then have a think about the wasteful publicly funded taxi system AT has provided to the people of Devonport. Add in the wharf, subsidies for services, even the Kea needed public money although that was 32 years ago.

        1. That taxi/shuttle may be paid for out of the fines that over active parking warden that clocked up $750000 in fines in 13 months .

        2. Yes it is fair to add the library- along with all the parks they have that we pay to maintain. They are almost 50:50 parks to residential in Devonport.

  2. As you say – plenty of projects across Tāmaki Makaurau crying out for funding.
    Otāhuhu town centre,
    Pedestrian Crossings
    Footpath upgrades
    If they dont want it – don’t give it to them. AT should focus on the communities who ask for projects and want to work with them, using that as a proof of concept they can come back to the milquetoast regions such as Devonport and Orākei.

    1. And $47 million will go a long way if AT were to keep abreast of developments overseas. The new normal is transformation – rolling out temporary cyclelanes everywhere cheaply, then improving them over time. What Paris has done for Covid is extraordinary, as one example:

      https://twitter.com/EuCyclistsFed/status/1286579371088777216?s=09

      They’ve already done 344 km of the 650 km of cyclelane promised.

      We need to do this too. Local Boards shouldn’t have any mandate to override AT’s requirement to provide a safe network. If they keep listening to these NIMBY’s they will face legal battles.

    2. You want to see the Stoddard Road shops in Mt Roskill. This is an area proposed to get 10,000 new houses and no mention of an upgrade to the atrocious town centre. It doesn’t even have a proper name! They could easily close off that part of the road (or at least calm it), add some cycling facilities, and make the place nicer for say 10mil. Then do another 4 areas with the change. And no one will complain!
      Why do AT spend all of their money in places where they don’t even want it?

  3. These people are just extraordinary. Aside from the eye watering cost of buying hundreds of properties along the road, turfing so many people out, do they really think a four lane Highway here would be a pleasant outcome for local people?

    There’s no realism or sense here. Just so much entitlement that a magic solution, not bound by either the amount of available space or money, can ever materialise.

    Spend the money in South Auckland, or anywhere else, frankly.

    1. Yes, senseless and regressive. And I do feel sorry for the people there, particularly the disabled, the children, the elderly who could do with these improvements.

      Lesson to electorate: stop voting for irresponsible NIMBY’s.

      1. The trouble is Heidi, the vast majority of electorate are irresponsible NIMBY’s, and plenty of them are the elderly or at the very least boomers.

        Look at the majority that horrible lady Maggie Barry got in the last election, ‘sigh’.

        I live in Takapuna but totally agree the money should be spent elsewhere and lake rd should go to the back of the queue.

        If only George Wood would disappear forever we’d all be a lot better off, he’s one of the more awful people ever to grace local govt.

        1. I live in Takapuna and it is an absolute disgrace that our bus way i.e. the busway for a metropolitan centre and Milford, is being downgraded to allow more people to drive.
          AT/Council has zero chance of reaching their climate change targets if this is indicative of their plans.

        2. Surely many will be approaching the age when driving isn’t going to be an option for much longer. You would think that they would be looking forward to the next 5-10 years of their own lives and how potentially a reliable frequent bus journey would be ideal for them.

  4. As mentioned in the article, but reading elsewhere, it’s just so depressing having the same old tropes rolled out “big supporter of public transport but….”.

    These people really think they are going to get s motorway tunnel or their own bridge to the CBD, or maybe bulldoze all the houses for 200m for a nice boulevard. It’s insane

    I wish AT could just impose a bus lane on them and then watch take up grow beyond 50% like on Onewa Road where Bidois and his fossils are still protesting

  5. Could they not look at tidal flow like Whangaparaoa Road but with permanent separated cycle lanes and the third lane being PT north bound in the AM and south in the PM?

    Problem solved applying all of the corridor from Devonport to Taka/the motorway/busway station.

    1. How about out west where we have zero bus or transit lanes. Besides the motorway it seems planners think the world ends at New Lynn.

    2. No, there is no tide. The peaks are bidirectional with residents travelling in one direction and naval staff and tradies heading in the other. In weekends it is full all day in both directions with local leaving, children’s sports home and away and other Aucklanders visiting for the beaches and cafes. A large proportion (I think 50%) are people on local trips – taking kids to sport and after school activities, dropping people at the ferry and trips to the supermarket.

      1. Moving the naval base out of Devo would be one of the biggest benefits to everyone.

        It’s quite surprising how much traffic is headed that direction in the mornings. (read – not that much less than is heading off the peninsula back down near bayswater)

        1. Why do that when the base was there before just about anyone?

          It’s like London, live there and expect horrid driving conditions.

  6. It’s always amusing to me how some people are so aghast at the idea of dedicated cycling infrastructure on the roads they drive.
    Yet when it’s actually implemented: their driving experience is barely changed and if it is, it’s for the better.

  7. Matt, while your final paragraph about building bridges across the inlets is clearly something which should not be allowed to happen, there is one small section which could be joined up to allow much improved access to the Bayswater ferry. At the moment there is massive regeneration housing going on at the bottom of Eversleigh Road with potential for more in other streets across towards the nearby Bayswater peninsular. There is a bus in Eversleigh Road and Bardia Street which goes to Bayswater ferry but has to barge its way out onto Lake Road for 600m and then fight its way through the Belmont intersection to head to the ferry. If four sections (some of which have houses about to be removed on them) in the regeneration area were given over to a road connection Eversleigh Road, Bardia Street, Corrella Street and Egremont Street could all be joined up. All this area of several hundred homes would then have access to Bayswater and the ferry without having to go out onto Lake Road at its major pinch point at Belmont. The bus would be more direct and useful. The Local Board should have been looking at this as a requirement on the developers. The Bayswater ferry, the shortest route on the harbour, could be a lot more popular than it is.

  8. If they just had a car ferry from Devonport it would take the pressure off the amount of cars trying to go north then south to get to the harbour bridge. Off load at Mechanics Bay for simple connections to the CBD, CMJ and east.

    1. a car ferry would make next to no difference across there, as its total capacity per hour would be tiny. If it was a huge fleet of small boats (to keep boarding time down) or if it was a couple of huge ones (with huge boarding times which would encourage car-racing to reach the ferry first) you still couldn’t do more than scratch the surface. And where in Devonport could you possibly build a car-ferry dock? Then contemplate the traffic queues trying to get to it, and waiting for the next departure…
      The cost of a car ferry (new docks, new boats) would be far in excess of the $47M that DTLB are about to throw away, and deliver almost nothing to anyone except the fortunate few who live close to it and want to go that way.

      1. Just give everyone in Devonport a free Aquada for their cross-harbour trips. The residents so thoroughly deserve it. Special.

      1. So transport the car problem to someone else’s neighbourhood, where they probably have the same problem too….

        Auckland – doubling down on car dependency since 1952…

        1. “So transport the car problem to someone else’s neighbourhood”

          That’s what Lake Rd and the harbour bridge do, only it’s a lot further. A car ferry would reduce driving distance significantly, and the relatively wealthy of Devonport would probably be happy to pay.

  9. If you look at the video at 4.24, you can see cyclists on the footpath and not in the cycle lane.
    That got me thinking and using Mapmyride, I could draw a much safer and pleasant route between Devonport Ferry and the start of the Northern Path at Esmonde Rd, that was only 390 metres longer than the route along Lake Road.
    This would require two cycle bridges to be built; Ngataringa Park to Polly’s Park and Northern end of Francis st to the Harbourside Church.
    If you remove the cycle lanes from Lake road, you could get a third traffic lane in. This could be multi directional and used as a bus lane only (to be replaced with light rail).
    I know it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than nothing and as a cyclist, I would much rather ride on quiet roads and coastal paths than breath in fumes on Lake Rd.
    Cycling the extra few meters would not bother me, especially as this route might be flatter.

    1. You’ve fallen into the trap of assuming most cyclists want to ride from end to end. Most users of SH1 don’t use it to get from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

      There are a number of amenities on Lake Road such as schools and shops that cyclists are likely to want to access.

      1. Which is a fair point, even if I have ridden cape to bluff.
        Those riders that are on Lake Road have plenty of arterial connections to the alternative route. They are no more or less affected than those already living off lake road that cycle to join it.
        It is simply to move the main route away from the road corridor.
        You can’t always expect a solution that makes everyone happy, but moving the cycle lane is possible, moving the main vehicle route is not.
        If it added a lot to the journey in time or distance it would not work, but we are talking 400m and the chance to vastly improve the access for all vehicles (bikes, cars, buses).

        1. As a percentage of the journey it could be a significant addition, especially if you lived on say Regent St and wanted to ride to Takapuna Grammar.

          An alternative option would be to have cycle lanes, bus lanes and a single private vehicle access lane on Lake Road. Through traffic could use the longer route, after all the longer route is easiest if you don’t have to pedal.

        2. I think the best approach in general is to provide what’s needed on the arterial to improve walking (crossings, wider footpaths where needed, trees if it’s a barren stretch, etc) and cycling (fully protected lanes) then in the remaining space provide separate bus lanes where there’s space, and where there’s not, actively reduce traffic volumes. This also requires cutting any backstreet ratruns by creating low traffic neighbourhoods. In this way the connections to the arterials, by walking and cycling, are pleasant and safe, allowing for far higher modeshift.

          Trying to have a back street route with strong connections up to Lake Rd is not useful to a child or a less confident adult if they then have to cycle on Lake Rd itself to get their destination. We’re not planning for vehicular cyclists but for all abilities and confidence levels. This situation exists for every arterial and we must resolve it properly not in a different substandard way for each cycle route.

        3. The route to use a coastal cycle lane would add 1.2km to the journey between Regent st and Takapuna Grammar. That would add about 4 minutes to the journey. Of course the student would not have to cross two busy intersections, avoiding the traffic lights would probably mean the route off Lake Rd will be quicker.
          Devonport will always have road traffic and narrowing the road will not reduce volumes because there are no alternatives.
          Moving the cycle lane off Lake Rd would be an improvement for all users. That includes pedestrians as the kids would no longer ride on the footpath.

        4. The alternatives are walking, cycling, ferry, bus.

          All modes are improved by reducing traffic volumes. The more, the better.

  10. Ironically, I was going to look up the Lake Rd plans to refresh my mind this morning, as had an appointment here just off Lake Rd today, and what do I see as this mornings post? We deliberately moved the appointment time knowing it could be difficult to get to or from there on time otherwise.

    This is crazy they rejected it, better to do something, seems they have a distrust of AT these members. This statement seems correct:

    “It’s ridiculous. I think it’s because people are too frightened to put a stake in the ground and say ‘this is the way forward’ or ‘this is what we’re doing’,” she said.

  11. The only good thing about this outcome is that the Esmonde Rd bus lane remains dedicated to buses and doesn’t become a T2 (I assume..). T2 is better than T1 but surely they should just have bus lanes the whole way down Lake Rd. Buses have to be materially quicker than cars to make them attractive.

    1. I know this is in jest, but as a junction for a Devonport/SH1/Takpuna Station Light Rail loop… that might be quite useful if you threw in a second leg to Stanley Point/Calliope Road. Throw in some walking and cycling space, don’t allow for any private vehicle traffic… I could see that actually adding something.

      Let’s see those character preservation fundies argue that trams wouldn’t fit the character of Devonport. I dare them 😉

  12. Build a medium sized-bridge for public transport only – From the end of stanley Point Rd across to the Tank farms at Silo Park.

    At Tank farm end – Make this end of the bridge higher only for a small part to allow for larger boats to pass underneath, and the rest of the bridge keep it lower to sea level.

  13. AT – please bring your loaded shotgun down south – we have many greenfield developments, and much congestion, your $47m will be much celebrated. Songs will be sung and your planning prowess will be heralded from on high. I recommend some passing lanes on our arterial routes as the 80kph speed limits are generating many reckless overtakings. Thanks George Wood for funding South Auckland, i know you care.

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