Here’s our roundup for the week.
City Rail Link
There have been some more great images and progress out of the City Rail Link team.
Last Friday there was a ceremonial spade in the ground at Aotea Station to mark a move to starting to dig underground.
The celebration included this image of Councillor Pippa Coom at the controls of a digger which seems ideal for a caption competition – go at it.
Up the hill at Karangahape Rd there are some amazing pictures coming out of the station that is being dug out.
Finally at Mt Eden the project will be getting very close to actually starting up the Tunnel Boring Machine. I also noticed in an update they said “The final Mt Eden station design will be made public later in the year“. It will be interesting to see just what design is.
Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr
Those of you who catch the Eastern Line may have noticed but for the rest of us, over Easter the contractors on section 2 of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr path installed the beams for the new bridge over the rail line.
A 400 tonne mobile crane, one of the largest in the country, was needed to lift the beams into position.
Section 2 of the shared path provides a connection for people walking or riding their bikes and scooters between St Johns Road and Ōrākei Basin, and links Sections 1 and 3 which are already completed.
The seven kilometre path is being delivered by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport, as part of a connected network of paths to provide people with choices about how they travel around.
Weighing up to 62 tonnes and some more than 30 metres in length, the beams were positioned on top of the already constructed crossheads, to form the base of the rail bridge.
Significant progress has been made to date with earthworks, intersection upgrades, fencing, slip remediation and pest plant removal carried out alongside the construction of the path and boardwalk.
The path is due to be completed in the middle of next year
The New Mangere Bridge
Speaking of bridges, another update from Waka Kotahi this week highlighted how they’ve now started work on the bridge deck for the Old Mangere Bridge Replacement.
The construction team has spent months working in cofferdams within the harbour to build two piers and with these now completed, work has been undertaken to install seven large beams between the piers which act as the base of the bridge deck.
“The first span, together with the two completed piers is allowing us to see the great progress the team is making, and over the coming months the bridge will really start to take shape,” says Waka Kotahi National Manager Infrastructure Delivery Andrew Thackwray.
Each span requires seven beams and the size and scale of these means this is a time-consuming process. Up to 21m in length and weighing about 30 tonnes, only one beam can be trucked onto site at a time. In total, 71 concrete beams are needed for the project.
The beams are being constructed in Tauranga using a mould and reinforced steel bars which act like a skeleton before the moulds are then filled with concrete. Each beam is left to cure, and this process takes around two days before they are transported to Auckland.
The team will be working on building the remaining piers and installing the additional beams throughout the rest of this year. All beams are planned to be in place by early 2022 with the bridge open later in the year.
SH20B Upgrade Complete
On to something that has finished, last week Minister of Transport Michael Wood cut the ribbon to signify the completion of the SH20B upgrade that has added transit lanes to that corridor and will help in providing reliable bus trips to the airport when combined with the soon to be completed Puhinui Station upgrade.
The State Highway 20B Early Improvements project has added new lanes in each direction for buses and T3 vehicles to share. A shared path for people on foot and bikes will provide locals and commuters with more transport options for getting to the airport, work, schools and shops.
“This project is a great step along the way to reducing carbon emissions as it gives people cleaner, more environmentally friendly and efficient transport options,” says Waka Kotahi National Manager Infrastructure Delivery Andrew Thackwray.
The new bus lanes between Pūkaki Creek Bridge and the SH20 interchange will support electric AirportLink buses providing a frequent service between the airport, Puhinui Station Interchange and Manukau.
Below are some of the before and after images with it now looking to have vast swathes of asphalt.
Given these lanes were paid for out of the public transport budget it is somewhat disappointing that they’re T3 and will eventually become general traffic lanes as the Airport to Botany project is meant to add a dedicated busway. I also worry buses will still get held up behind T3 vehicles when they have to merge with general traffic to cross the two-lane Pūkaki Creek Bridge.
Just before celebrating the completion of SH20B, the minister also kicked off construction on the next motorway project, widening SH1 between Papakura and Drury.
The diggers are out and shovels in the ground with construction work starting on improvements to Auckland’s Southern Motorway between Papakura and Drury which will see extra lanes added as well as a path for people on bikes and on foot.
Transport Minister Michael Wood led the official start of construction this morning, on the SH1 Papakura to Drury South project. It’s part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme (NZUP) which is investing more than $6.8 billion in road, public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure to get our cities moving, save lives and future-proof the economy.
“This project will deliver a range of more sustainable transport choices by providing a third lane in each direction, wide shoulders to allow for future bus services and more options for walking and cycling, linking with a city wide network that is being developed for pedestrians and cyclists,” says Waka Kotahi National Infrastructure Delivery Manager Andrew Thackwray.
The first stage of construction awarded to Fulton Hogan covers works within the existing motorway boundaries from the north side of Papakura interchange to the BP motorway service centre north of Otūwairoa / Slippery Creek.
It will extend capacity improvements north of Papakura delivered by the Southern Corridor Improvements project and includes the replacement of the Park Estate Road overbridge. A new noise wall on the eastern side of SH1 between Papakura interchange and the overbridge will also be installed.
The claims that the shoulders will be used for buses laughable. There is little value in running buses along the motorway where there are no stops, but especially so when there’s a rail line parallel to the motorway. Perhaps the real positive to this project is, even though it was announced at the same time, it does further remove any justification for Mill Rd.
Dan Bidois on Transport Decision Making
I did have to laugh this week at this opinion piece from former National MP Dan Bidios. He talks about the need for better transport spending and outcomes and suggests three ways we can achieve this.
First, we should mandate public consultation for the evaluation of infrastructure needs and priorities
In the commercial world, the customer is always right. As such, customer surveys form a valuable part of the process for any new product development or improved service offering. The same principle should apply to choosing transport projects. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency should regularly survey the public to help refine transport needs and prioritise projects.
So we should listen to the over 11,000 that submitted in support of Skypath and not the 159 that opposed it then – note: he has supported it but always with strings attached
Second, we should improve the use of cost-benefit analysis to ensure value for money in every project
We need to strengthen the use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) within business cases to better assess transport projects. It is important to remember that not all costs or benefits of a project are about cash. Doing so would improve public debate and decision-making around which projects to pursue and which ones to reconsider.
CBAs should be conducted before committing to projects, rather than retrospectively. Waka Kotahi’s business cases read more like glossy marketing documents justifying an already chosen project rather than detailing a robust assessment of a project’s total lifetime costs and benefits.
You mean like how most of the Roads of National Significance failed a cost-benefit analysis but were pushed on with anyway. Or pushing for another harbour crossing that the analysis shows costs billions and only makes traffic worse?
Third, we need a bipartisan approach to transport projects
We need to take the politics out of transport project planning and prioritisation. My observations are that politicians can be too quick to arrive at a transport solution before they have fully understood it. They, too, need to consult communities, businesses, and other stakeholders to ensure they mandate credible transport projects.
It’s a bit rich for a (former) politician to now decry we need to take the politics out of transport, especially when he was more than happy to politicise decision making such as trying to push for another harbour crossing, or when he was pushing to downgrade the T3 lanes on Onewa Rd to T2 despite all the evidence suggesting it would make things worse for everyone on that corridor.
Finally this week, if you drive around Upper Harbour note the road layout on SH18 is changing from Tuesday with eastbound traffic now using the new off-ramp at Paul Matthews Rd.
Be prepared for a new eastbound road layout on #SH18 (Upper Harbour Hwy) from Tue 27 April, after Anzac weekend. Delays are likely during peak times, especially as motorists adjust to significant changes in the road layout around Paul Matthews Rd: https://t.co/lGQGRo08uK ^TP pic.twitter.com/mQh7UIWC9y
— Waka Kotahi NZTA Auckland & Northland (@WakaKotahiAkNth) April 21, 2021
Have a safe long weekend.