Welcome to 2021. After wrapping up 2020 before Christmas, here’s a look at some of the things we can expect to see in 2021.
Lots of projects to be completed
While we will continue to see and have to deal with the impacts of COVID, one big theme this year is we’re finally going start to see the benefit of all the disruption that the city has been experiencing with the completion/opening of a lot projects all around Auckland.
This is in no particular order.
Chief Post Office and Rail Network Repairs
Te Komititanga opened in December and in March the refurbishment Chief Post Office building is expected to be complete once again providing a grand entrance to Britomart. By then the repairs to the rail network that have been happening for the last five months and resulted services being slowed and many being cancelled should be complete.
In addition to the CPO, over the next six months or so we’re also going to see the other downtown projects be completed. This includes
- Quay St – expected to be completed by April but with planting ongoing till June.
- Te Wānanga, the new public space over the harbour next to the Ferry Building – expected in May
- The redevelopment of the Ferry Basin – Also due around April
- The Lower Albert St bus interchange – Is now largely complete but only a few buses are currently using it till other works complete
The fantastic new Puhinui station is expected to be completed by the middle of 2021 and will make it much easier and faster to get to the airport by public transport. Along with the station will be the new bus/transit lanes on SH20B and on Puhinui Rd and Cavendish Dr.
Later this month the existing 380 service will be split into two routes, the 38 which will run from Onehunga to the Airport and Airport Link which will replace the Airport to Manukau leg and use fully electric buses. Once Puhinui station is completed this will shift to using it.
Eastern Busway Stage 1
The first stage of the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga, which includes a new bridge over the Tamaki River as well as walking and cycling improvements, is due to be completed later this year.
Meanwhile, Stages 2-4, which covers Pakuranga to Botany and includes major stations at Pakuranga and Botany should make progress throughout the year but construction isn’t expected to start till 2022.
The Karangahape Rd streetscape improvements have felt like they’ve dragged on for a long time but they too should be completed this year. Some of the already completed parts look great so we’re looking forward to the rest being completed.
Projects making Progress
As well as projects being completed, there are a number of prominent ones that will see substantial progress. These include:
City Rail Link
The CRL will continue to make progress this year but is not due to be completed till late 2024. There will be many milestones though and in April a big one will occur when the tunnel boring machine starts work. The first tunnel is due to be completed before the end of the year at which point the TBM will then be dismantled and sent back to Mt Eden to start on the second one in 2022.The most visible progress, or at least the most disruptive, will be at the Aotea station. The works at the Albert/Wellesley St intersection will be finished in the middle of the year at which point the Albert/Victoria St intersection will close. This will also see a number of bus route changes and hopefully some progress on getting cars out of Queen St.
New Lynn to Avondale
One of the many tasks over the Christmas rail shutdown has seen a new rail underpass built between Chalmers St and St Georges Rd. The whole project is not due for completion till early 2022 but by the end of this year I assume will be largely complete.
Northern Busway Extension and Rosedale Station
Significant progress has been made on the Northern Busway Extension as part of the Northern Corridor project, which is hard to miss if you’ve travelled the motorway between Constellation and Albany any time recently. The entire project isn’t due to be completed till mid-late 2022 however we should see one small part in operation before then – the new platforms at Constellation Dr, which makes the station look a lot like the stations at Akoranga and Smales Farm and would help in easing the bus congestion the station currently suffers from.
Projects starting construction
Third Main and Electrification to Pukekohe
Technically these projects have already started with some initial works but we should see them kick into gear this year. One thing I’m particularly interested in seeing is what gets done with Middlemore Station.
Papakura to Drury Motorway Widening
Waka Kotahi will be starting the $423 million project to widen the motorway between Papakura and Drury to three lanes each way, much like they’ve only recently completed with Manukau to Papakura.
At least according to when the NZ upgrade programme was announced, it’s likely we will see the $411 million Penlink start later this year too. One thing to watch will be what the end design ends up as. The NZUP said it would be a two-lane toll road, which is more than sufficient for the anticipated traffic volumes. However, locals are continuing to push for a more expensive four lane version.
I’m perhaps more hopeful than sure on this one but we should see works start on the plans to improve public transport on the Northwest.
The Other Stuff
Some of the other stuff we should see this year.
ATAP Refresh and Long-Term Plans
This year is the point in the three-yearly cycle that many of the long-term funding plans get refreshed so we will likely see a lot of discussion about the refresh of ATAP as well as the Council’s Long Term Plan and the Regional Land Transport Programme. We’re not expecting to see anything radical in these but the big challenge will be how council and government address the funding issues brought about by COVID.
Unitary Plan Refresh
With the National Policy Statement on Urban Development removing parking minimums and requiring significant upzoning, we should hopefully this year see some information from the Council on how they plan to respond to it.
Climate Emergency Response
Late last year the government declared a climate emergency and this year we expect to hear more about what their plans to do something about it actually are. This is particularly important for us given that transport is the largest source of emissions in Auckland and one of the largest nationally.
We will almost certainly hear more about the government’s plans for Light rail this year. Will they stick to the expensive metro model or go back to something more like originally proposed? More importantly, when will construction start?
This is meant to be the list to start construction this year but I suspect we won’t see it.
Finally for today, the impacts from COVID will continue to be seen, most notably in places like the city centre and on public transport as well as with funding.
There will of course be a lot more that happens this year.