Here’s our roundup for the week.

Downtown works

The downtown area has been a hive of cones over the last few years as the various upgrades have been underway. Some of the results of all of the disruption are now slowly starting to be seen and over the coming months we should see most of the various elements start to come together. At the same time a few of the features we’re seeing leave me a bit concerned.

Downtown Bus Interchange

The downtown bus interchange, was/will be one of, if not the busiest bus stop in the city thanks to it being the main city stop for the NX1 – which is easily the busiest bus route in the city.

The footpaths on the Eastern side now appear largely complete and those on the Western side are underway with part of it due for completion soon and the entire footpath finished by mid-October. Full completion of Lower Albert St is due in December.

The shelters you can see in the first image are the original ones and it’s not clear if they’re being replaced but I assume they would have been by now if they were going to be. What concerns me is how far back from the edge of the kerb they are meaning that on a wet day users have to dash to/from the shelter. That’s quite different to stations like the Northern Busway where extend almost to the kerb.

It appears that setback is related to a Fire Service Requirement

Albert St

Just south of the Downtown Bus Interchange, progress on the reinstatement of Albert St is nearing completion with most of the paving and trees now in.

One interesting comment in a recent CRL newsletter about this was

“Installing the streetlights was not an easy task,” said Grant Loch, construction manager for Connectus.

“Prior to installing the light poles, three-metre-deep light pole foundations needed to be constructed. The team dealt with underground obstructions and services for each of them. Also, more than half of the streetlights needed a customised foundation design as the services and utilities couldn’t be removed to accommodate their foundations.”

With the entire street having just been dug up, you’d have thought that the services would have been put in place that didn’t cause extra work such as this.

Te Komititanga – the lower Queen Street plaza

Te Komititanga is the name that has been gifted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for the lower Queen St plaza. With the tunnel works now complete, work is now focused on Te Komititanga – and as you can see below.

There’s a lot to do though they say it’s due to be done by the end of the year and I’m really looking forward to being able walk out of Britomart into this space. Although the restoration of the Chief Post Office is not due for completion till early next year.

One of the neat features of the design is the Whariki pattern of tiles which will be incorporated into it and give a distinct look. They can be seen in the image on the bottom left below.

Te Wānanga

Te Wānanga is the name of the new public space being built out over the harbour between the Queens and Princes Wharf

The space is starting to take shape with this photo from last week following another concrete pour. The space was originally intended to be completed in time for the America’s Cup however the delays caused by COVID-19 have meant it won’t be completed till after that.

Quay St

Progress on enhancing Quay St continues and more and more of the space is now being paved.

One thing I am concerned about here is that the cycleway, seen in the first image on the tweet above, is not going to have enough delineation between it and the footpath resulting in it being used by pedestrians.

The artist impression images show furniture and trees in places which will help and at this point we can only hope it works and that it doesn’t end up like the Beach Rd cycleway.

On some parts of Quay St the trees have started to go in

Speeding up progress

To help speed up the works, AT are going to close the eastbound traffic lane

They should really just leave the section between Albert St and Queens Wharf closed permanently (in both directions) which would enable a full pedestrian and bike only public space to connect Te Komititanga and Te Wananga.

Thanks to AKL Construct for all the images.

City Speeds

Back in June, Auckland Transport introduced the new 30km/h speed limits. Tamara Bozovic has been looking at how much they’re being complied with.

As this this result shows, there’s still more to do.

It’s notable that AT have yet to install many of the gateway treatments and other changes they promised when consulting/deciding on these speed limit changes.

Fewer Breath Tests

The AA want more breath tests done

Police are being urged to restore dwindling breath-test checkpoints as the number of alcohol-related road deaths continues to climb.

Latest police figures show fewer than 1.3 million roadside breath tests were carried out in 2018-19, down from more than 3 million in 2013-14.

With road deaths involving a drunk driver increasing by 77 per cent between 2014 and 2019, the Automobile Association (AA) is calling for the Government elected in October to restore testing levels to where they were.

Road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen said although many factors had contributed to the rising road toll, the reduction in roadside checkpoints was a “major factor”.

“In our view, if we increase testing again, we think that is going to help turn it around and lead to fewer deaths.”

The road policing budget was basically frozen for years under the previous government as part of their funnelling of money towards the RoNS. The current government have put more money in to it but say it is taking time to scale testing rates back up. That seems to be backed up by numbers from the police which says that in the year to the end of June, 1.6 million tests were carried out, a 27% increase.

The (proposed) new Interislander Terminal

Kiwirail want to move their Interislander terminal in Wellington as part of accommodating the two new ferries it is buying to replace the three existing ones. Those new ferries are due to begin service in 2024/25 and are nearly 40m longer and at least 5m wider than the current ferries. They want the new terminal closer to the city on Kings Wharf, next to their competitor Bluebridge.

But there is disagreement in Wellington about it with Kiwirail opposing multi-agency/council forum recommendation for the current location at Kaiwharawhara.

This week Kiwirail’s Chief Operating Officer wrote an op-ed on why it should move. This focuses primarily on the risk of an earthquake.

The Kaiwharawhara terminal is already inadequate and needs replacing. The question is whether the replacement should be in the same location.

The current terminal is on the Wellington Fault rupture zone yet in April this year, Horizons Regional Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council announced Kaiwharawhara, with further reclamation, as their preferred location for future terminal infrastructure development.

Have Christchurch and Kaikōura taught New Zealand nothing? Kaiwharawhara is not the site on which a city or nation should choose to build vital infrastructure when it could go somewhere safer.

GNS Science has advised KiwiRail that Kaiwharawhara is “one of the recognised riskiest corridors for critical infrastructure in New Zealand. The Thorndon-Kaiwharawhara area and Cook Strait and the ferry service are noted as two of 10 nationally-critical-risk corridors for New Zealand by the New Zealand Lifelines Council”.

None of the possible ferry terminal sites in Wellington is free of seismic risk, but Kaiwharawhara has the highest risk of a rupture. After a quake, the time to restore the crucial North Island-South Island sea link will be a key to recovery, and that is likely to be longer if the terminal is at Kaiwharawhara than if it is at another site.

Kiwirail’s proposed new location on in the blue while it’s current location is on the right of the image.

While the focus of the discussion is on earthquake risk, perhaps it should also center a bit on usability, particularly for those that aren’t driving. While not perfect, the Kings Wharf location at least makes it possible for people to be able to walk to from the city

Finally, there’s a lot of construction related stuff this week so here’s a few more.

Puhinui Station progress

The latest flyover of the Northern Corridor project (from July). At about that time it was announced that there would only be four-month delay to the project due to COVID-19.

And the huge Puhoi to Warkworth motorway.

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  1. I feel like the problem with Beach Rd is that the bike path is more convenient for getting to Britomart than the foot path rather than a lack of delineation. Also, sometimes I really don’t feel like smelling that restaurant’s fumes.

    Mind you, been a long time now since I was near there. Even before Covid I’d switched mostly to Parnell in and out (previously I used Parnell mostly for the inbound and Britomart the outbound trip). And the last time I caught the train (late July, I just used Newmarket both ways to get some exercise in).

    1. The problem on Quay will be different; pedestrians heading across it between harbour and city, and its bidirectional, so will be tricky to expect them, especially visitors, to know to look both ways… going to need more delineation.

    2. The problem with Beach Road is they built a cycleway that looks like a footpath, works like a footpath, goes where the footpath normally goes, on the direct route that people on foot want to take. I.e. they built a fantastic, well designed, fit for purpose, footpath, then expected people not to walk on it.

        1. “not going to have enough delineation between it and the footpath resulting in it being used by pedestrians” It seems there is no consideration given to the reverse? Lack of delineation resulting in the footpath being used by cyclists!

  2. Some people see those motorways as beautiful. Auckland needs more roads they say.
    Yesterday I walked on the bridge from the bus stop at Ellerslie over the southern motorway to the station.
    It was awful. The constant scream of traffic at 100km/hr. The strong smell of emissions . People were covering their faces, heads down, eyes nearly shut and rushing to get off that hellhole.

    1. The overbridge desperately needs replacing with one that is wider and provides better noise reduction, it doesn’t need to be so awful when accessing the train station, I don’t think it was all that long ago that it didn’t even have a cover.

    2. I think they look really cool from and engineering point of view. And if I own a car when they open then I’ll totally go for a drive to go check it out. Although I still agree with most of the criticisms bout the Warkworth project especially.

  3. Excellent progress being made on the Northern Corridor project. They seem to be working in all weather conditions. However where is Auckland Transport at with delivering the Rosedale Bus Station as part of the project? It all seems to have gone very quiet.

    1. Given the platform the station goes on hasn’t been built yet there is probably not a lot they can do until the viaduct is finished.

      1. Have Auckland Transport completed the design? Have they let a contract for construction? Is there a timeframe for construction to fit with completion of the Northern Corridor project? There was a rumour a couple of months ago that they had not. The rebuild of the Constellation Bus Station is underway as part of the Northern Corridor project but I repeat, Auckland transport seem to have been silent on the Rosedale Bus Station.

  4. On moving the interisland ferry terminal: Not a good idea in my opinion, given the already heavy traffic along Waterloo quay. The existing location is good for an automobile ferry as it’s out of the way and isolated and not so subject to traffic jams and it’s got excellent access to the motorway and Hutt road and to the rail lines for the freight trains.
    Moving the terminal risks the cars being caught in Waterloo quay’s traffic, which would be far less than ideal for unloading automobiles and could result in a back-up. And having the freight trains have to cross Waterloo quay exacerbates this.
    Better to just upgrade the existing site in my opinion.

    1. I’m not opposed to building more housing but….

      Opening line of the NIMBY National Anthem.

      If we are so keen on blanket protection for such areas then there should be a rule that the ‘Heritage’ building must meet Heritage requirements, such as restored fully to its former glory as well as meeting the new rental requirements for heating/livibility etc. Let’s see how long they want the protection then. I rent a villa in Grey Lynn that is essentially protected by the special character overlay and it is a heap…cold, damp, flaky paint, no heating. Would love some new Heritage Certified windows to replace these rotten wooden ones..

    2. Well I guess for those lobby groups it is all good and well as long as they are not the ones who actually have to live in those old rotten houses. They got their open air museum, the rest can (literally in some cases) drop dead.

      Seriously though, what is motivating them? Is it a profound level of loathing of modern architecture? Or just total cynicism?

      1. Hedi I am slowly learning . And here is another showing some of the works inside the old Post office and includes the new Escalators leading down to the platforms ;-

  5. “The road policing budget was basically frozen for years under the previous government as part of their funnelling of money towards the RoNS. The current government have put more money in to it but say it is taking time to scale testing rates back up.”
    I am afraid that I am becoming like Miffy. I am left wondering by the comment above whether it is written by a stupid person, or intended for stupid people. This is not rocket science. You send people out with testers, and then you test people, and you can test as many people as you devote resources to it.
    Don’t those of us who don’t drive drunk or stoned have a right to be protected from those who do?

  6. The current government delayed electrifying the government vehicle fleet and cancelled the subsidy scheme. National are promoting EV use again:
    A fourfold increase to 80,000 EVs on the road by 2023.
    A third of the Government’s light vehicle fleet electrified by 2023.
    Extending current EV exemption from road user charges (RUC) until 2023 and exempting EVs from fringe benefit tax until 2025.
    EVs given a special licence plate that would allow them to use bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

    1. Ah yes if you own a $80k plus Tesla we have a special lane for you so you don’t have to mingle with the riff-raff. I say this as an owner of an e car but mainly as a walker, rider and PT user we should be focusing on reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles not continually enabling them.

      1. Agree, incentives for people to own an EV rather than an ICE car are great but they shouldn’t be incentivised ahead of PT.

        Some of what National are proposing is great but EVs in bus lanes definitely isn’t.

    2. You can blame NZ First for putting the kybosh on the Govt.s EV scheme. As for allowing EV’s to use HOV lanes, why the hell would you compromise public transport efficiencies by encouraging more people to use cars? What a particularly stupid idea.

      I will tell you this – regardless of who is in government next time, EV use is going to increase massively over the next 3-5 years as more and more products come to market with competitive pricing and decent ranges of 300+ km. Tesla is already there but expensive, there are others coming which will be a lot cheaper with comparable performance as the mainstream manufacturers come online with their mass-market EV’s.

      Charge times are falling fast too and more and more places like shopping malls are making provision for EV charging while people shop.

      1. “as more and more products come to market with competitive pricing”

        Where is the evidence for this? The people’s ev (ID 3) is only expected to land in OZ from next year and if it’s priced as in Europe it will have a price tag of over $NZ 50k.
        The talk is for ev’s to match the price of fossil fuel cars by 2025, but that is hardly going to cause people to race to buy them just as the majority of car buyers don’t buy new ones now.

  7. And with all this work that they are doing on the foreshore at the ferry basin , I notice all the piling and substructure is plain untreated steel and I would give 10-15years before major wor will have to be done to replace most of it . So check out what can be seen for the water as the ferry comes in , some earlier ones were solid plastic as they are around the pontoons that are already there . ;-

  8. “With the entire street having just been dug up, you’d have thought that the services would have been put in place that didn’t cause extra work such as this.”

    OMG Matt.
    The team had to adjust around those massive tree pits that got put into the design at the last minute and requested by Council and locals including your good selves. Also Utilities have been one of the hardest parts of Albert Street since early 2016, and have got more complex not less.

    They couldn’t change the depths of the utilities and actually worked pretty well with the light pole foundations. Pop down and have a chat with the team if you like.

    And have a look at the actual completion before you complain more. It’s the very first part of the entire CRL project to finish.

  9. From the same Stuff article:

    “National’s transport spokesman Chris Bishop and environment spokeswoman Erica Stanford unveiled the policy with leader Judith Collins on Friday, saying the party would set a target of getting 80,000 EVs on the road by 2023.”

    “Critics of the scheme argue that it doesn’t go far enough. Modelling by the Ministry of Transport suggests uptake of EVs was already heading towards 80,000.”

    Only the first one will cost taxpayers $93 million and annoy the hell out of every PT user.

  10. Te Komititanga – yes the tiles are great!
    But they need 2-3 times the seating areas and more trees. Why do our public places have to be so stark?

    1. Agreed. And I wish they would put the 3 jet fountain back on the Customs Street edge. Auckland is very fountain-poor! And I’m assuming that Molly McAlister’s Māori Chieftain will be returning to the Quay Street side?

  11. After viewing the video on the Puhoi – Warkworth roading project , where are/is all the heavy earthmoving equipment that they use to use on these sort of jobs ? . As it seems if you have a couple of piddly diggers , a couple dozen white 4×4’s and a number of dump trucks [which seem to be just sitting idle] you can build a 4 lane highway and charge thee earth doing so . And with the old fashion equipment they were able to compact the ground as they went .

    1. I have seen the same on other NZTA video’s of new roading projects and they just have diggers doing all the work and nothing else . And people wonder why it takes so long and always over budget .

  12. All very interesting. Pity about the Lower Albert St bus shelter limitation.
    With the Quay St delineation difference in the photo to the render & cross section. What is the reason for this? Is it still to be done, plans changed or a different area than some of what that cross section shows.

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