Here’s our weekly roundup
Harbour Bridge Repair Progress
Waka Kotahi NZTA say progress on a new permanent strut for the harbour bridge has been so good, that if the weather is good it will be installed tomorrow night. This was the update from Wednesday.
The new 22.7 metre strut which is being fabricated in Whangarei is being coated and painted today. Tomorrow and Friday the focus will turn to bolting the components together before it is readied for transport to Auckland on Saturday morning.
All going well and dependent on good weather conditions the new strut will then be installed on Saturday night.
All southbound lanes on the bridge will be closed overnight from 9pm Saturday evening and reopen midmorning on Sunday. The Esmonde Road and Onewa Road southbound SH1 on-ramps will be closed. Two northbound lanes over the bridge will remain open.
One southbound lane and one northbound lane over the bridge will also close from 5pm on Saturday to prepare the site for the overnight work. Congestion is expected so people need to plan ahead and use the Western Ring Route as an alternative to SH1 and the bridge.
If the weather is unsettled this weekend, the installation and southbound closure is expected to take place the following weekend.
“We’re giving people plenty of warning that they won’t be able to travel to the city centre over the bridge on Saturday night. We understand this will cause some inconvenience, but we need to close lanes to allow our engineers to safely carry out their work,” says Waka Kotahi General Manager Transport Services, Brett Gliddon.
“If all goes well with the installation on Saturday night, further closures will be needed on other nights next week to carry out the all-important tensioning work.”
“This involves jacking the new strut to the required level so that it is carrying load again, redistributing the load throughout the entire bridge structure. Only then can all the lanes be safely reopened.”
Harbour Bridge Contamination
Speaking of the Harbour Bridge, it was also revealed this week that the land surrounding it is contaminated and that the NZTA and Council kept it quiet.
Auckland Harbour Bridge maintenance work and operations contaminated land next to houses with heavy metals above permitted levels, but the Transport Agency opted not to tell local people.
This is revealed in a dozen documents obtained by RNZ, about tests done a decade ago – documents that also say the bridge’s resource consent conditions were being broken.
Soil tests aimed at renewing those maintenance consents in 2010 found high and rising levels of lead, zinc and copper in topsoil at Te Onewa/Stokes Point, caused by sandblasting and traffic.
They also found a cancer-causing hydrocarbon, Benzoapyrene, at up to 30 times permitted levels, the source of which is probably fill dumped decades ago, the documents say.
Documents obtained by RNZ show an internal argument went on for two years within NZTA over whether to tell two dozen nearby households.
It sought legal advice in 2011 on the liabilities around delaying going public, which it was told were many.
The city’s top public health officials advised the agency in January 2011 to tell people, and test their properties.
“It never happened, they’ve never been told,” said Carl Reller, the agency’s national environmental manager at the time, from 2007-14.
That makes you wonder how many other things are being kept quiet internally.
Our roads were quiet during the first COVID lockdown meaning many fewer people died on them. But since then they’ve been trending back up. Over the last four months we’ve seen more road deaths this year than we did during the same period of time last year.
Last month we recorded our highest number of deaths on the roads for a September since 2009.
City Rail Link Milestones
There were two milestones for CRL this week.
At Te Komititanga the first of five Pohutukawa destined for the square has been planted
Good progress is also being made on the whāriki (welcome mat). The whole square is due to be finished before the end of the year.
At the other end of the city they’ve also reached a milestone at the Karangahape Rd station with mining having started.
Mining of the tunnels at Karangahape Station recently began with an initial 15-metre-long connection to the caverns for the station’s platforms.
“This connection is short, but it will become an important and busy ‘construction artery’ for us providing access for people, machines and material,” says Dale Burtenshaw, Deputy Alliance Director for the Link Alliance.
The connection is being mined from the bottom of the temporary access shaft 18 metres deep, built on the site of the old Mercury Plaza food court.
The first stage of the connection is being mined by a large excavator. The arch-shaped connection will be 9.5 metres wide and eight metres high.
Specialised mining equipment known as a road header – a machine with a boom-mounted cutting head that rotates as it grinds through rock – will finish the connection before cutting further underground to mine the station platform tunnels.
The mined platform tunnels – that sit up to 35 metres underground – will be 217 metres long to accommodate nine-car trains.
I believe the tunnel boring machine is due to arrive later this month and they say it is due to reach K Rd at the end of next year.
There’s also been a milestone with the Puhinui Station upgrade as the first of the structural steel elements have been installed
At the Puhinui Station upgrade, a key milestone has also been reached. The first large steel elements have been installed – which form the station structure – and more are being lifted in over the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/fOBv6T6Inn
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) September 29, 2020
And as a reminder, this is what it’s meant to look like when completed.
They’ve also released this timelapse of work so far.
10 20 minute timetable
Recently Auckland Transport put the western line back to 10 minute frequencies at peak time, likely in part because the closure of the line between Newmarket and Westfield. However it hasn’t really lived up to the promise.
I’m not sure if this is due to the run-down state of the network or the Western Line struggling with being back to a single track through Mt Eden – or a combination of both. If it is the CRL, it’s going to be a long, four years with infrequent service.
Leading by example
An ongoing trend on our roads is that vehicles seem to keep getting bigger and bigger and that makes it harder for us to design more people friendly spaces if we’re having accommodate these larger vehicles. An interesting article from CityLab looks at a few things cities can do to address this. It is US mainly focused on the issue of large SUVs and pick-ups but one section that is quire relevant here is that it also includes a section on things like rubbish and fire trucks, noting
A 2018 report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials argued that America’s fire trucks are too big, which is preventing some cities from undertaking safety-focused street redesigns.
This kind of issue also applies to many other areas too, for example it seems our supermarkets are determined to drive the biggest trucks they can through to every supermarket. This may be better for their efficiency but it’s not necessarily good for other road users.
As the city continues to become more people friendly we’re going to need to start thinking about how we service it and that may mean requiring more bespoke vehicles
Every time a city manages to free up some space from traffic the car ad men turn up to try to get that quality to rub off on their product …. everytime.
— Malcolm McCracken (@urbanistfromwhk) October 1, 2020
Now that’s a people friendly street makeover.
This is how a 21st-century urban street should look like.
— Lior Steinberg (@LiorSteinberg) September 28, 2020
A good example of how free parking often backfires
Free parking: does it work?
"Calls and emails from business owners and staff complaining about other staff and business owners staying all day, day after day, (parked) on the street".
Free parking trial backfires as motorists 'overstay their welcome' https://t.co/aYnAFeIm2j
— Cam Perkins, Urban Pirate (@H20FrntDsgn) September 28, 2020