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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.”

The new strut under construction

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 didn’t.

“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.

Road Deaths

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.

Puhinui Progress

There’s also been a milestone with the Puhinui Station upgrade as the first of the structural steel elements have been installed

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.

The 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.

Now that’s a people friendly street makeover.

A good example of how free parking often backfires

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  1. “try to get that quality to rub off on their product …. everytime.”

    Haven’t seen much locally-sourced Mini Cooper SE marketing materials – could just be a ballsy reviewer? Having said that, I’m glad there are more small EVs being made. The Cooper SE should be fairly durable so hopefully there will be a few on the second-hand market in the coming years.

    1. Mini are probably happy to try and add some quality to their product because very little was added during design or manufacturing.

    2. I’m reminded of Murray Crane, suit maker and local spokesperson for Bentley. He spent years fighting any upgrade to High Street in the name of parking in front of his shop, until they Council gave up and fixed Oconnell Street instead.
      Next minute where does Mr Crane do his car photo shoot, not on high street of course, but next door on Oconnell where it isnt shit.

    3. Galway St and Fort Lane are some of the more popular photo spots for “carstagrammers” especially with the fairy lights.

  2. It’s almost certain that NZTA announced the compulsory purchase of 6 houses for the Harbour Bridge northern landing during a level 4 lockdown as a convenient way to bury a toxic legacy. Apparently an NZTA lawyer said, ‘It is not necessary to establish that there are no other possible alternatives that could achieve the objectives, nor that Waka Kotahi has chosen the ‘best’ alternative’. Shovel ready? I don’t think so.

    1. They’ve been planning to buy the rest of those houses for years. Isn’t it sad what motorways do to a community.

  3. I’m intrigued by those pics of Puhinui – what appears to be a large part of the roof structure all lifted up and installed in one go? Is that right? That’s a massive lift if that’s right – no wonder the crawler crane looks so loaded with counterweights. Congrats to the steel fabricators on that job – very impressive bit of work!

  4. I feel sorry for line haul drivers forced to make metro deliveries in a full size truck and trailer unit. Some of the places they are being sent to are just way too tight.

    1. Absurd isn’t it. This issue has been solved years ago in cities all over the world, among the solutions are city fringe freight hubs from where the ‘last mile’ is carried out by light vehicles, usually cargo bikes or small electric vans.

      Fit the vehicles to the streets, don’t try to squeeze intercity freighters down urban lanes.

      1. Yes, but that involves a freight hub with staff and equipment plus a fleet of metro delivery vehicles with drivers. Kiwi ingenuity has realised you save all that money and the double handling by making B trains do local deliveries.

    2. I feel sorry for the drivers, sure, if they’re being made to. It’d be awful to have to drive in tight spaces and look out for lots of people too. But as Chris N says, it shouldn’t be like that. Council and Government need to look at what they’ve set up wrong.

  5. NZTA intentionally hiding contaminated land from home owners should be criminal offense. I don’t normally like it when people says heads should roll – but in this instance I think they should – it’s just not good enough, .

    1. It is a criminal offence. If you look at the linked documents from the RNZ article:
      “NZTA legal advice makes it clear we are libel for civil and criminal actions”.

  6. Does anyone know what’s happening with buses heading into the city from the Beach Haven tomorrow evening? According to this ( all North Shore buses will terminate at Akoranga and then a shuttle will take you to Birkenhead Wharf but no mention is made of buses that go down Rangatira/Mokoia/Onewa route being terminated at the Wharf. Will they be forced to go to Akoranga before coming straight back to the Wharf?

  7. An item on One News last night saying that the Rail replacement will now extend into the new year . For those that are moaning about the work happening over the Network we are lucky it’s only the track that is being replaced . With this article from the International Rail Journal yesterday concerning lines in South Africa during their lockdown ;-

    “Hundreds of kilometres of overhead cables, signalling wires and catenary masts have been stolen, affecting every Metrorail route in the province of Gauteng, South Africa’s economic heartland.

    Stations have also been destroyed on the commuter rail corridors around Johannesburg, with buildings reduced to rubble and platforms torn up by thieves looking for signal wiring.”

    and this from One news and KR concerning Auckland’s rail ;-

  8. This contamination thing is a massive breach of trust by a Government agency. I just read the RNZ report and the links and it seems that the NZTA has been covering up a serious problem, despite warnings from the Health Dept and their own Lawyers.
    I don’t care too much about the residents, they are rich and can sue NZTA for I expect a fortune. I care about the same pollution that will have contaminated our harbour and the park area where children are playing.
    This is the sort of thing that people go to jail for.
    I hope there is going to be a proper investigation into this and that as someone else already said ‘heads will roll’. We can’t have our Government agencies acting like this, we are not living in Trumps America.

  9. If you are wanting the free car parking to be used by shoppers there needs to be a time limit placed on it, such as one hour.
    Yes some staff will still risk using it and move their car each time a parking warden is seen but it would make more car parks available for shoppers than all day free parking would.

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