It’s Friday and here’s out weekly wrap up of stories.
National’s Wellington Plans
Another week and few more transport announcements by National.
On Monday they were on the Kapiti Coast to announce $330 million to
- Electrifying and double-tracking the rail line between Wellington and Ōtaki
- Building a full expressway interchange at Peka Peka
- Completing the Horowhenua Expressway (Ōtaki to Levin)
An extra 15km of double tracking and electrification sound positive but it’s notable that the idea isn’t even on the long term list of Greater Wellington or Kiwirail. What they do want funded is to buy new bi-mode trains to improve services to on the Capital Connection to/from Palmerston North and on the Wairarapa. Though National said they’d fund those in their subsequent Wellington announcement. Judith Collins also said they want to eventually extend double tracking and electrification to Levin.
On the Peka Peka interchange, Collins said “It was a short-sighted decision to not include an interchange at this fast-growing area”. The contract for the Peka Peka to Otaki expressway was signed in November 2016 under the watch of then Transport Minister Simon Bridges so was she directing that comment at her own party? The interchange was dropped by Waka Kotahi NZTA last year as it didn’t represent value for money.
Notably that expressway was also in the news yesterday as like many of the other RoNS it too has suffered a budget blowout. The cost of it has increased by $92.7 million to $405 million. The project already only had a BCR of just 0.6 so how much lower is it now? The project was also initially meant to open this year but now that won’t happen till 2022. That cost increase follows increases in cost on the Mackays to Peka Peka section and of course more recently with Transmission Gully.
As for the Otaki to Levin expressway, that has an even worse business case but the current government agreed to fund it as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme. They say it will start construction in 2025 but National are promising to start it by the end of the next term if they’re elected. Given the NZTA are still at an early stage of investigating and designing the route and don’t even have consent yet, it seems unlikely this promise could be achieved.
On Wednesday it was the rest of Wellingtons turn. National say they will spend $12 billion on transport projects in Wellington over 20 years, $4 billion more than the current plans. Included in that cost are three new tunnels.
National’s Wellington and Hutt Valley Transport Package includes:
- Fast-tracking construction of a second Mt Victoria Tunnel and delivering a second Terrace Tunnel ($700m & $400m respectively)
- Fixing congestion at the Basin Reserve through grade-separation ($190m)
- Rapid transit between Wellington’s CBD and airport in the form of rapid buses or trackless trams ($2,200m)
- Removing highway traffic from Wellington’s inner-city streets by undergrounding SH1 through Te Aro ($1,100m)
- A new highway connecting Seaview in Lower Hutt to SH1 north of Wellington ($160m)
- Upgrading Wellington’s metro network, including new trains to improve services between Wellington, Masterton and Palmerston North ($300m)
- Widening SH1 to four lanes between Wellington’s CBD and airport (Ruahine St and Wellington Rd)
- Widening SH2 to four lanes between Silverstream and Whakatiki St in Upper Hutt, and fixing dangerous intersections through new interchanges ($150m
They say those three tunnels alone are expected to cost $2.2 billion although it could well be higher by the time they got to actually start them. This is especially so given they say both the Terrace and Te Aro tunnels wouldn’t start till 2029.
It will also be interesting to see how they deal with the consenting issues given the Basin Reserve was consent was previously declined by the Board of Inquiry. Bypassing that decision via way of a legislation seems like something that would be challenged in the courts which could well push back National’s claimed timelines.
In addition to all of this, National want to set up an equivalent to Auckland Transport to run transport in the region.
Water infrastructure for housing
On Tuesday the government announced $188 million from the shovel-ready funding for eight mainly water projects that will enable more housing.
- Tāmaki stormwater and park upgrade bundle ($11m)
- Tāmaki wastewater upgrade ($25m)
- Northcote Development Stormwater Trunk Provision ($13m)
- Roskill South housing infrastructure bundle – Roskill Development ($10m)
- Ōwairaka Stormwater Network Provision – Roskill Development ($31m)
- Mt Roskill Priority Water and Wastewater Upgrades ($65m)
- Unitec Water, Buildings and Roading (75m)
Road Deaths in July
July was not a good month on our roads with 32 people losing their life, more than double what July last year was.
Hamilton’s new train station
The new train station at Rotokauri for the start up Hamilton to Auckland service is looking more impressive than most Auckland stations.
A showpiece feature of the Rotokauri Transport Hub will be an over-rail pedestrian bridge, linking Tasman Road to the centre platform and The Base shopping complex.
“Everything will look really cool, the stairs and lifts [for the pedestrian bridge] will be in place, it’s just the final bits of commissioning the lifts and bolting down the stairs and everything,” Allen said.
The bridge will have a burnt orange and “electric cow” (dark grey) colour scheme and will carry pedestrians about 7m above the ground.
Workers shifted the rail line carrying northbound trains nine metres west to allow for the construction of the hub’s 140 metre-long rail platform.
While a lot of attention has been given to the hub’s rail function, it will also serve as an important bus station, Allen said. The Tasman Rd side of the hub will have 170 bus movements from day one. This will increase to 300 movements when the Frankton and Dinsdale routes get extended to Tasman Rd.
Here’s an idea of what it is expected to look like when finished.
Some potentially good news coming for Inner Link users from Waitemata Local Board member Graeme Gunthorp
A long lease from Dilworth to AT would provide the former with an annuity on compromised land, and the latter would avoid the upfront purchase price.
But let's see what the courts find before going down that rabbit hole.
— Graeme Gunthorp 🧭 (@GraemeGun) August 6, 2020
Interested in the outcome of Queen St
With @AklTransport, we have commenced a pilot programme on Waihorotiu Queen Street Valley, engaging with those who live, work and visit Queen St to co-design a better quality city centre street for all. Want to get involved? Sign up here: https://t.co/Oa7yqUITQX pic.twitter.com/f4dU2AtdpM
— aklcouncil (@AklCouncil) August 4, 2020
Parking for trees
Paris replaced almost al car parking at Rue des Martyrs by plants and trees. The evening photo shows the situation in 2014.
— Thomas Schlijper (@schlijper) August 4, 2020