Here’s our roundup for the week of things you may not have seen.


Puhoi to Warkworth

Transmission Gully isn’t the only of Waka Kotahi’s Public Private Partnerships to see costs increase with Puhoi to Warkworth now confirmed to have had another one too.

A “high” to “extreme threat” of landslides has been identified at the $900m upgrade of State Highway 1 north of Auckland, and blamed on Covid-19.

The threat on the Pūhoi to Warkworth project is revealed in risk registers released to RNZ under the Official Information Act (OIA).

The two registers, for August and September, said the construction joint venture (CJV) was looking for solutions to “get the main alignment slips out of the critical path”.

….

“The risk of unstable soil slipping” had increased because earthworks were exposed to wet winter weather for longer than expected due to a construction hiatus forced by Covid-19, Waka Kotahi said.

The pandemic had before now already added almost $90m to the project’s costs.

The project was originally meant to cost $710 million so this is actually the second cost increase.

You can also see why they’re obviously concerned about slips when you see just how steep some of the cuts are based on the latest flyover video.


PT Experiences

The Herald reporter has written about her experiences using public transport to get to work.

And it was yesterday morning’s commute chaos that nearly pushed me past the breaking point.

It took me nearly two hours to get to work in Auckland City, from Glen Eden – a 14km journey. Why? Two words that strike fear into the hearts of all 20-somethings living in an Auckland suburb and working in the central city: public transport.

Sitting on the 22N City Centre despondently staring out the bus window (whose leaky seal was letting in the rain), I wondered where it all went wrong.

I’d finally worked out my 40-minute commute with planned precision, taking a train from the station near my house and then switching to a bus that takes me to within a block of my office. But over the past couple of months, that commute has stretched to an hour, then to an hour and a half, culminating in yesterday’s slog that amounted to more than the time it takes to drive from Auckland to Hamilton.

For most people there’s nothing inherently ideological that prevents them from using PT and there are many who want to be able to use PT more but continue to be put off by poor quality experience, even though it has improved a lot from what it was a decade ago. I can’t help but wonder just how much more PT would be used if we put some real effort into fixing and prioritising it.


City Rail Link

Two things from the City Rail Link team this week.

They’ve now started the work to carefully dismantle the Bluestone wall on Albert St to make way for the Aotea Station.

Work has started on the temporary removal of one of Auckland’s most historic landmarks to make room for the City Rail Link (CRL) project.

The 139-year-old bluestone wall in Albert Street in the city centre is being shifted block by block out of the way of CRL construction.

“While we’re building for Auckland’s future, we’re also determined to preserve its past,” says Matt Sinclair, Aotea Station Manager for the Link Alliance. “The bluestone wall will be put into storage until we’ve finished constructing the tunnel and Aotea Station and then we will be putting those blocks back in place and restoring a significant part of Auckland’s heritage.”

The historic wall is built from local material and was erected on the eastern side of Albert Street between Wyndham and Victoria Streets in 1881 at a time of significant infrastructure expansion in Auckland. The wall’s underground public toilet was one of the city’s first. The wrought iron railings, piers and the ornamental arch over the stairs on the side of the wall are some of Auckland’s last remaining examples of street furniture dating back to the Victorian age.

It will take about three months to dismantle the wall. Stonemasons are cutting it into 1800 blocks, numbering each block and storing them safely off-site until the wall is rebuilt in 2023 as part of urban realm improvements.

A Boring Day Out

They’ve released some more details about their upcoming open day.

Aucklanders will next month get the chance to meet in person, Dame Whina Cooper, the giant tunnel boring machine (TBM) that is heading underground to complete construction of the two City Rail Link (CRL) tunnels.

Auckland’s “Boring Day Out” will be held at CRL’s Mt Eden construction site on Sunday, 6 December.

The TBM is named after the revered Māori rights activist, Dame Whina Cooper, and people will be able to see it close-up as well as see where it will start its underground journey next year from Mount Eden to the new Karangahape underground station and then on to the Aotea station in central Auckland.

“This will be a rare opportunity to see the star of New Zealand’s biggest-ever transport infrastructure project before it disappears underground,” said Francois Dudouit, Project Director for the Link Alliance which is constructing CRL for City Rail Link Ltd.

“This project has always been for Auckland and the “Boring Day Out” is one way we can say ‘thank you’ to Aucklanders for the support we get, as well as demonstrate state-of-the-art technology that will reshape the way we travel in this beautiful city”.

And

There are no age restrictions for the event but people under 15 must be supervised by an adult. People with mobility issues are welcome. The walk is 600 metres long and the ground is flat, though there are some uneven surfaces.

Plans are still being finalised and details about where people can get tickets on-line will be announced next week.

Event information:

  • There will be 10 visiting sessions on 6 December. The first entry is at 9am and the final one at 6pm. Visitor numbers will be restricted to 500 for each session.
  • Tickets are free and people can book up to five tickets per person.
  • People with wheelchairs, mobility scooters, prams/pushchairs and walking sticks are welcome.
  • Entry to the Mt Eden site will be via Ngahura Street near New North Road. Parking on site is limited to people with mobility parking permits.
  • People are encouraged to use public transport to travel to the event. They can plan their trip online using Auckland Transport’s Journey Planner at www.at.govt.nz. Bikes, scooters, skateboards, and other wheel-operated transport with the exception of mobility scooters, will not be allowed inside the event.
  • Closed toe and flat shoes must be worn, and people should be prepared for dust and loud noises.
  • No food or drink is allowed but people are encouraged to support local businesses before and after the event.
  • The event is weather dependent and may be cancelled if Covid-19 alert levels change. Everyone must sign-in to the event using the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 tracer app or by physically signing in.

Council budget could get worse

The council’s emergency budget in response earlier this year to COVID cut funding for a lot of programmes. Now it’s possible things could get even worse.

Auckland Council’s projected budget blowout could more than double to $1 billion, a new forecast suggests.

Councillors have been told the $450 million hole caused by Covid 19 could grow by another $540m, if the border stays closed for two years.

In a statement, the mayor’s office said the latest projections were that the Covid-19 and other impacts on the council’s revenue would persist for longer than previously anticipated.

At what point do the government step in and help?


Tree Enforcement

Auckland Transport have so completely failed at even attempting to enforce illegal parking in our public spaces that trees are having to try and do it.

A tree has snapped and crashed into a parked car in Auckland’s St Patrick’s Square, causing severe damage to the uninsured vehicle.

The impact has shattered the car’s windscreen and crushed the roof.

In all seriousness, what is it going to take for AT to actually do their job. Here’s an example from last week showing cars covering one of the too few public spaces we have.


People don’t need educating on cycleways, just do it

A great op-ed piece from Dermot Coffey of OraTaiao:NZ Climate and Health Council

So it was somewhat surprising to read comments from the chair of the commission, Rod Carr, regarding public education campaigns around active transport, partly because of the examples he chose, and partly because of what the implications of focusing on “consumers” and individual responsibility – rather than structural change – means for our climate change response.

When it comes to cycling, there is no question that the perception and reality of lack of safety is the main barrier to increased uptake. Survey after survey, and consultation after consultation, has shown this over the last 20 years, and the numbers of new cyclists taking advantage of the quiet roads during the April lockdown is proof of it in practice.

Simply put – we don’t need more public awareness or education; we need the rapid roll-out of connected urban cycleways across the country. “Personal preference”, as Carr puts it, is a fallacy — it implies a choice which doesn’t exist at present, and ignores the extensive international and local evidence for active and public transport that once that choice is properly provided people will take advantage of it.


A great thread on intensification would actually mean

Speaking of housing, following my post the other day, a more detailed breakdown of where consents are being issued


Media have been giving a lot of attention to news of a hyperloop system being trialled. This looks more like a rollercoaster than a serious transport solution (it’s never looked like a serious transport solution). And wait till they hear about existing high-speed trains capable of 300+ km/h that can carry over 1000 people

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1325824213681401862


Have a good weekend.

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52 comments

  1. People were complaining about the Light Rail going through the inner West, Grey Lynn etc as if the inner West is a PT utopia with its meandering Outterlink. I live near Richmond Road and if I take the bus to work, it takes me 30 mins on the bus because during the whole trip there is about 30 metres of buslane! Luckily I bike to work, which brings to the other point I made a few days ago which I’m glad that guy has tweeted about and thats its so sad to see the consents on the Villa belt so low. Especially when even just a bit of terraced housing on each inner West Street could make a difference (not much though for an inner City area)

    1. The Inner West:
      – Still has much better access to PT that most suburbs further out. It is a utopia by comparison to say, Hillsborough.
      – Could easily be a PT utopia with investment numbering in the millions of dollars (dedicated 24/7 bus lanes), rather than the billions of dollars a tunnel would cost

    2. The idea that you can just replace some small percentage on every street is a fallacy. You’ll end up with the same exceptionally car-dependent pattern as now, but worse since you now have more cars per km².

      The more logical thing is to replace almost everything close to the city centre and town centres, and leave the rest alone.

      1. Exactly. Start with Freemans Bay and work outwards. We use the Future Urban Zone or FUZ to show where future sprawl will occur. We need a Future Intensification Zone or FIZ to show where areas will be allowed to intensify in 5 years and 10 years. Then people can hold and develop or sell and bugger off if they don’t like it.

        1. I think the upzoning should just happen regardless tomorrow. Who are these nimbys to say their neighbours aren’t allowed to build a different style of house on their own land, especially when it is for the betterment of the city. Screw that. They can live in their villa if they want to, and the odd historic one should probably be kept. Exposing them to market forces is very light touch. Actually de-regulation, they should be rejoicing. I know I would.

        2. That shows a lot if faith in central planning Miffy. Would planners decide what gets built on every sq m of Auckland? Were you also a fan of Soviet 5 Year Plans too?

    3. The Inner link is “meandering”. So don’t make the same mistake with light rail. If Grey Lynn wants light rail, it must be separate line not a tedious detour at 30km/h for NW users. Preferably paid for by an extra levy on the multi-million dollar villas.

  2. Just on RNZ news. The reporter was talking to a bus driver on Queen Street who had arrived 16 minutes early as no traffic holding them up. Shows the gains if we could get a clear run for buses.

    1. Yes:
      – In travel times and travel time reliability for bus passengers.
      – In being able to prioritise pedestrians at all the traffic signals along the route, because priority for general traffic due to the few buses in it could no longer be an excuse.
      – In being able to increase bus frequency without any extra costs for extra buses or drivers.

      No brainer.

  3. The three story thin houses are a hard sell – we found the best of both worlds in terms of size and footprint was a three-story townhouse with about 140sqm for a family home. Same land footprint as the two story house and looked pretty tidy from the outside. This seems like something we should be able to pre-fab at scale – we’ve been hearing about how this is possible for years.

    1. Agreed. Houses that are extreme in one dimension (very thin, very deep, more than 3 floors high) have to dedicate more floor space to hallways and stairs, which is inefficient. Having a relatively large proportion of the house be shared walls will also make them more expensive in terms of fire protection and sound proofing.

      You’re right that this should be something that can be easily prefabricated. But to achieve scale it really needs the government to commit to buying thousands of them. Maybe they should commit to some kind of mass house building program…?

      1. There’s little reason to go thin, if you want smaller units you turn the house into a walk-up apartment. This mix of townhouses and walk-up apartments is what you see everywhere in cities overseas, so there must be something good about it.

        1. The only reason I can thi nk of is to retain freehold titles which is attractive for a lot of people. Really narrow terraces are actually my most preferred future home.

        2. Yeah it is unfortunate that over here so many townhouses have body corporates. I don’t think that is the case overseas. Terraced houses should just face a street and be on freehold titles. However that requires a street grid which doesn’t suck.

        3. Even if your terrace faces a driveway it can be freehold title with no body corporate (I’m building pone right now). However, from an urban design perspective, it is much better for them to face the street.

        4. There is a huge difference in value between Freehold terrance house and Unit title apartments.

          Unit titles generally has a lot of restrictions that limits what the owner can do with the unit.

          Also retiree owning freehold who has time can do the DIY maintenance to save money.
          Where unit title outsource maintenance, some corrupted building manager may pick the expensive supplier and take bribery.

  4. That AT doesn’t do anything about the cars parked illegally in places where they have no confusion about the law (eg paved footpaths) makes a mockery of their excuses for not doing anything about the cars parked illegally in places where they are confused about the law.

        1. My comment was about paved footpaths in general. AT accept they can ticket cars on paved footpaths but don’t do so willingly. They actually have a policy – which is probably something that should be challenged – that says for anything outside the cbd they will only respond to complaints. They won’t ticket proactively. So the problem is of their making. And this means it’s very hard to take them seriously when they claim they don’t have the power to ticket cars on berms (which is a load of bollocks anyway – even if they misunderstand some rules, it’s still a breach of the RUR that says you can’t park inconsiderately of other road users.)

          As for St Patricks Square, I’ve not looked into it. But just because something is a public road doesn’t mean you can drive and park there. The law is very clear on this. AT are tasked with managing areas like this to deliver on Council’s goals. They can make rules and enforce the rules. So why don’t they?

  5. Ah yes. The villa belt, where all your dreams about walkable neighbourhoods and decarbonised transport go to die.

    You can see this on mode share maps. In the city centre and nearby inner suburbs, walking is very common. Everywhere else driving dominates. The villa belt ensures that the area where walking makes sense will never grow.

    1. It also contributes to stagnant ferry patronage. I believe the population of Devonport is much the same as it was 75 years. Note this is not a comment on the Takapuna-Devonport local board…

    2. “They actually have a policy – which is probably something that should be challenged – that says for anything outside the cbd they will only respond to complaints. ”
      If they have such a policy there is zero evidence that they implement it in our area. Frequently our drive way is partially blocked by parked cars. During a spell when I worked from home I regularly complained to AT to fix the problem. It appears that they did nothing as the same offender popped up twice later that week.

  6. Two hours to travel 14 kilometers maybe it would be quicker just to walk from the nearest Railway Station. At some point if your stuck on a bus in heavy traffic just bail out.

    1. On the day the article mentions I did just that. The cause of all the traffic delays was that workers on the corner of Symonds St and K Road had coned off two lanes, causing all traffic and buses down Symonds St to be completely jammed into a single lane. If they’d had the good sense to wait another hour before doing so, there likely would have been no issues.

    1. It’s easy to imagine the arborists turning up to find cars parked either side of the tree, preventing access, so they go to the next job instead.

      1. There is a better than even chance the bark is missing from one side because someone hit it with a car or reversed a truck into it. But still if this were private property Worksafe would be involved.

        1. Yeah highly likely. It’s also possible that vehicles parked in the dripline / on the roots have contributed to killing it.

        2. Paving up to an old tree isn’t a good idea… I wonder if they used any particular tech approach to minimise the harm.

        3. I would like to know how long these natives they have installed in Lower Queen St will last as basically they are in an oversize pot plant container , and there is nowhere for the roots to spread . So after a number of years these will also become deadly .

        4. David, under the paving those trees sit in pits four metres square and three metres deep, see the formwork for them here: https://www.facebook.com/cityraillink/photos/1663777907115722/

          That’s 48m3 of volume in the tree pit, or about fifty spa pools each.
          Rest assured they did actually think about how much space a large pohutukawa needs to grow in when they designed it.

          The main purpose of rain gardens are to detain large influxes of rain water coming down in a downpour to be released slowly over time. This avoids a huge flood of water, run off, dirt and particulates overwhelming the drains and dumping into the harbour every time it rains.

  7. It’s way past time that the govt stepped in to assist Auckland Council. There will be more cuts if they don’t, and the city will go backwards fast.
    I get the feeling the government really doesn’t like the council.

    1. Would it not be better if Auckland Council could cut their cloth according to their coat rather than taking the socialist way of throwing taxpayers money to them.
      Should the good taxpaying folk of Gore, Westport, Ruatoria etc be expected to pay to have Aucklands roads ripped up, WaterCare CEO paid a cool $800,000 pa and other such extravagances?

      1. Austerity measures in a recession is absolutely the worst thing for governing bodies to do, crazy talk suggesting that is a good idea. Next we have the issue that these places you named aren’t growing, hardly at all compared to Auckland. that is what the money pays for, infrastructure GROWTH that will have a return on investment in tax dollars for the country. If gore was growing at 11% every 5 years like the average for Auckland (some areas of Auckland over 25% over the same period) then they should get similar percentage gains in funding. Funding like this from central government pays for growth, borrowed off the future money the infra will generate. Which turns out to be significantly more than it costs over even a short 30 year period. Like any good investment, in the end it will provide more money than was put in, you should be celebrating.

      2. What about the good taxpaying folk of Auckland who contribute a greater share of tax revenue than their share of population.

        Let’s not also forget that most of the growth that’s occurring in the country is occuring in Auckland and all the tax collected from that goes to the govt.

        1. Is there an easy way to show this on a graph or similar? It seems like a very difficult problem to accurately plot where the money is going. After all you might have parts manufactured in Whangarei going into a bridge in Auckland, where was the money for that spent?

  8. Two hours to travel 14km! If there was a dedicated bike lanes all around Auckland, the trip would be done half or less the time it take by PT. I cycled 14.70km in 40 mins and that was just normal pedal on a mountain bike with a road tyres. The bonus is that I get an exercise at the same time while going to work.

  9. After having a trip into the city the other day I viewed both the Mt Eden and Krd works and what gets me Mt Eden the only way you can view anything is by walking up Mt Eden road and viewin between the gaps between the buildings and when you get to Beresford Square they have a perspex viewing barrier along the wall . So why can’t they do the same at say the top of Flower street ? . They have done the same in Albert St , which gives punters a good view of what is happening .

    This is what I viewed in Krd ;-

  10. “It took me nearly two hours to get to work in Auckland City, from Glen Eden – a 14km journey. Why? Two words that strike fear into the hearts of all 20-somethings living in an Auckland suburb and working in the central city: public transport.”

    That’s why AT is a total failure. The CCO idealogies is a failed experiment.

  11. David, under the paving those trees sit in pits four metres square and three metres deep, see the formwork for them here: https://www.facebook.com/cityraillink/photos/1663777907115722/

    That’s 48m3 of volume in the tree pit, or about fifty spa pools each.
    Rest assured they did actually think about how much space a large pohutukawa needs to grow in when they designed it.

    The main purpose of rain gardens are to detain large influxes of rain water coming down in a downpour to be released slowly over time. This avoids a huge flood of water, run off, dirt and particulates overwhelming the drains and dumping into the harbour every time it rains.

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