At the start of last year the government announced the NZ Upgrade Programme, a massive infrastructure programme which included $6.8 billion in transport projects around the country with around half of that being in Auckland.

The package contained some really good and much needed projects, such as the Northern Pathway, the third main between Otahuhu and Wiri, electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe along with new train stations along that section. But the vast majority of the package, over $5 billion (75%) was for a bunch of massive road upgrades. When Labour said they were going to be transformational no one expected them to just transform into the National Party and continue their Roads of National Significance. It was bizarre and many of the projects completely contradicted the Government Policy Statement (GPS) which is meant to guide transport priorities across the country.

There have been rumours circling for some time about big cost blowouts for some of these projects and the government themselves have said they’ve been going through ‘baselining’ process to review the costs. On Friday they announced the outcome of that. It’s significant, with the overall programme almost doubling in cost if they were to continue all projects originally announced.

The government say they’re investing an additional $1.9 billion into the programme which will mean 26 out of the 32 original projects will continue to go ahead unchanged while the remaining projects have been changed – mainly for the better.

Cost Increases

One of the first things that stood out to me looking at the revised project costs was where they had increased. The various rail projects in Auckland and Wellington along with a group of 13 smaller road projects throughout the regions all saw no to small increases in costs. Meanwhile the bigger roading projects saw in some cases massive budget blowouts, in some cases more than doubling.

The fact that costs nearly doubled in just a year highlights there are serious issues in agencies like Waka Kotahi who provided the original estimates. Yes, some cost escalation as projects go through more detailed design processes are understandable but projects doubling (or more) in such a short space of time suggests there are much bigger issues at play. These are also the same people responsible for other highway blowouts. It seems to happen so regularly and with no consequences that it’s hard to tell if it’s incompetence or deliberate – after all it’s much harder for a politician to stop or delay a project that has been announced or is underway.

Of the projects still going ahead unchanged, the biggest increases are below. In the media storm that followed the announcements on Friday there was barely a mention of these blowouts.

    • Otaki to North of Levin – $817m to $1,500m (+$683m)
      It’s really hard to see how the government can justify continuing to fund this project. While traffic volumes have been increasing at the telemetry site at Ohau south of Levin and the current Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) is about 18,000, the business case suggested that by 2041 it is only expected to reach around 22,600. This is important as in the business case for the proposed Warkworth to Wellsford expressway, Waka Kotahi suggested the trigger for four-laning is when “Forecast traffic volumes are predicted to exceed 25,000 AADT“. I wonder what could have been achieved by instead putting that money into some safety upgrades, better connections between SH1 and SH57 to create a proper bypass of Levin and the rest into track upgrades and/or extension of electrification combined with improved rail services?
    • Penlink – $411m to $830m (+$419m)
      Penlink is a planned new 7km toll road between SH1 near Dairy Flat through to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and has been pushed for by locals for decades. The $411m when announced last year was already up significantly on the $280m previously estimated by Auckland Transport. One of the main problems with Penlink has been there are just not that many people on the peninsula to use it. That and they’ll still face the same motorway bottleneck on SH1 – though I wonder if some of the extra cost could be widening SH1 too.
      Auckland Transport have long term (unfunded) plans to extend the NX2 to Whangaparaoa via Penlink. Perhaps that needs to be combined with more general upzoning of the peninsula to help justify this massive new cost.
      The cost should hopefully put to bed the push from some for the road to be four lanes and not tolled – the toll will help in managing demand but even in 2046 only around 16,800 vehicles a day are expected to use it, so toll revenue would barely cover the interest on that construction cost.
    • Takitimu North Link Stage 1  – $478 million to $655 million (+$177 million)
      Stage 1 is formerly known as the Tauranga North Link and would see a new 6.8km, 4-lane road build from the current toll road (Takitimu Dr) to about Te Puna. One small positive of the project is, as Waka Kotahi say: “One lane in each direction will be used to prioritise public transport, vehicles carrying multiple passengers and/or freight“.
    • Melling Interchange – $258m to $420m (+$162m)
      This is the next in the progressive removal of at grade intersections along SH2 through the Hutt Valley and also includes flood protection works for the Hutt River and shifting the train station. The project had a business case completed in September 2019 so again it’s hard to understand how the costs could have escalated so substantially.
    • Canterbury Package – $159m to $300m (+$141m)
      As the name implies, this isn’t a single project but a bunch of projects throughout Canterbury.

To put these costs in perspective, I’ve updated a graph I made last year of the cost per km of recent road projects. Remembering that Penlink is only two lanes too.

Projects Changed

While most of the projects are still happening, six of the projects have been changed. As mentioned, this is mainly for the better.

    • Whangarei to Marsden
      In Northland the planned expressway between Whangarei and Marsden is likely to have seen similar cost escalation to the other projects. As such it has been replaced with safety upgrades to the road and funding for the 19km rail spur to the port at Marsden Point which Kiwirail say is the first significant new rail line since the 1950s. There’s also funding to upgrade the line between Whangarei and Otira to handle heavier trains. Kiwirail also say that when the port moved from Whangarei to Marsden Point rail freight movements in the region dropped from about 1 million tonnes a year to about 100,000 tonnes but a Ministry of Transport business case found these improvements could see that rise to about 2.2 million tonnes.
    • South Auckland
      Mill Rd is the most high-profile change and comes after the costs blew out from $1.354 million to about $3.5 billion – likely combined with pressure from advocates over its environmental impact. That environmental impact was even called out by Transport Minister Michael Wood in the press release. There will still be some changes though.

      Mill Road will become a smaller scale project, with a focus on addressing safety issues. It is expected to involve an upgrade of two lanes instead of four between Flat Bush and Alfriston tying in the existing urban Redoubt Road dynamic lanes. There will also be targeted safety improvements between Alfriston and Papakura.

      It’s been suggested that a big factor behind the cost escalation for Mill Rd is Auckland’s runaway land prices.It was always bizarre that we’d build both Mill Rd and an upgrade of the parallel SH1 at the same time. As part of the announcement, Stage 2 of the motorway widening from Drury to where Mill Rd would have joined in south of Quarry Rd (including a new interchange for Mill Rd) has been deferred.

      The overall package of works in South Auckland remains about the same total value but they say the savings “will allow investment in transport upgrades to release housing and local centres in Drury in a way that supports the Government’s decarbonisation goals“.

      Finally in South Auckland, the initial NZUP announcement included $247 million for two new of the three planned new trains stations between Papakura and Drury. As part of the changes they’re now going to build all three.

    • Takitimu North Link Stage 2
      As mentioned earlier, Takitimu North Link Stage 1 is still going ahead, albeit with an increased cost. Stage 2 was a further 7km to Omokoroa and presumably experienced similar cost escalation to the other projects. Stage 2 has now been deferred with funding just for route protection. They also say it will now be required to be funded from the normal National Land Transport Programme and that it’s unlikely to occur within the next 10 years.
    • Northern Pathway
      Finally the thing that’s garnered the most attention from the press eager to stoke the anti-cycling sentiment.
      There have been rumours for some months now that Waka Kotahi was looking at a new standalone bridge instead of the previously announced attachment to the existing bridge with the press release highlighting:

      Geotechnical investigations and testing has determined that building a structure connected to the Auckland Harbour Bridge is not possible as the existing piers are not able to accommodate the extra weight without considerable modifications to counter balance the increased load involving additional risk to the bridge.

      They also say they investigated other options such as “a gondola, dedicated ferry or bus service, using existing lanes, and a separate multi-modal structure for walking, cycling and public transport“. The outcome is a new bridge dedicated to walking and cycling will be built for about $685 million with an additional $100 for the remaining Northern Path extension through to Esmonde Rd.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if this ended up becoming the most expensive walking and cycling bridge in the world. But while there’s been plenty of outrage over the cost, it should really be seen as the cost of not changing the existing bridge. It could well be that with road pricing we could have freed up enough space on the existing bridge to have not needed this.

      As for this new bridge itself, the concepts look great and it seems to have significant width, possibly at least as wide as one of the existing clip-ons, which should give plenty of space to make it a fantastic facility. It will be useful not just for commuters and recreational walkers/riders but also for tourists. Waka Kotahi are saying it will take about five years to consent and build.

      The biggest issue I have with it is we’ve been down this path of getting excited about an announcement a few times before and until such time as construction actually starts it’s hard to take too seriously. I also wonder just how much work went into the suggested multi-modal structure. It would have been a huge opportunity to knock the whole harbour crossing debate on its head. In saying that, Michael Wood did say the next harbour crossing would be a public transport crossing, likely in a tunnel, which is why they’ve pushed ahead with this bridge.

      Finally it also means that Auckland Transport are going to need to really step up their delivery of cycleways on either side of this.

One of the things that is notable from the changes is it’s clear the government are taking climate change more seriously. This is most notable in their comments surrounding changes to Mill Rd.

Michael Wood said in light of the increased costs and climate commitments, it was important to take another look at the programme.

“Recognising the need to decarbonise our transport system, we’re rebalancing the package to increase investment in rail, public transport and walking and cycling.

“If we had proceeded with Mill Road as originally scoped, it would have cost up to $3.5 billion and at peak produced six tonnes of CO2 emissions a day. Instead, we’ve focused on delivering important safety improvements to Mill Road, upgrades to SH1 and rail, and new rail stations connected to public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. This rebalanced package helps manage debt, reduces emissions and supports housing growth.

“The Marsden Point rail spur will be a strategic investment in Northland’s future prosperity, getting heavy trucks off the road to make the highway safer, and reduce emissions. We know safety on SH1 is a concern for locals, so there will be targeted safety upgrades, including median barriers, along the route.

“Meeting our commitment to decarbonising transport means that we have to start doing things differently. This re-balanced NZUP package shows our intent, and to guide future investment I intend to amend the Government Policy Statement on land transport to provide Waka Kotahi with the clarity it needs to make investments consistent with our country’s decarbonisation goals,” Michael Wood said.

This is great to see and hopefully we’ll see a lot more of it, maybe even through some of the projects above where the costs increased.

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176 comments

  1. Is this a failure of market economics? If construction firms know they are basically guaranteed work because of ‘infrastructure needs’, then they can happily hike the prices knowing it will get paid. At some point should the government go “that’s way too much – we’re just not spending the money” and see if some buyer pressure can get costs down?

    1. That could only happen if construction firms formed some sort of cartel to push prices up. That’s not true at all, the NZ civil construction market is extremely competitive. There is fierce competition between the existing big players (Fletchers, Downers, Fulton Hogan, McConnell Dowell and so forth) and there are much larger multinational firms entering the market too (Vinci, Acciona, CPB, John Holland etc.).

      1. There doesn’t need to be a (organized) cartel for prices to be supplier-controlled. Look at banks and their mortgage rates: they see what each other is doing and copy it.

      2. Agreed, construction is relatively competitive. Margins are relatively tight. So long as the scope of the project isn’t changed after procurement of contractors it is difficult for contractors to turn the screw. I imagine these cost blow outs come down to 2 factors. 1) politically motivated, Idealistic initial costings that ignore/miss risk. 2) Inflation between these initial estimates & actual undertaking of project. I am in construction & per annum cost increases run notably higher than the CPI the govt uses in its initial analysis.

      3. A lot of it is actually the cost of materials which have increased enormously across all sectors including housing of course. This is because the market is controlled by Carters and Fletchers and as we know with our supermarkets, duopolies do not bring proper competition. It is much, much cheaper to build in the UK and Australia even though in Aus the labour costs are much higher – but their materials are far cheaper.
        We need to break the duopoly here to see downward pressure on prices.

    2. There is market failure but it is the opposite of what you suggest Bob. This is a monopsony where there is one buyer and many sellers. The Government has never had to compete with other buyers so the prices have always been below a market efficient price.

  2. Matt, I think you need to acknowledge that the outrage over the proposal to spend $800m on a cycling bridge is a very widely shared view, including by cycling advocates.

    1. I’d love to see that kind of money go into local street improvements around high schools and transport hubs to create safe separated cycle lanes/paths. The amount of traffic-trip reduction getting short-trips out of cars would be phenomenal, and encourage casual cycle use and potentially build up cycling habits in the next generation.

      1. There’s plenty of money available for urban cycleways already. Issue is a political one with local authorities not wanting to do anything rather than a financial one – an extra 800m wouldn’t make a difference to the people who already campaign against cycleways taking road space.

        1. I think the problem is more that more money for urban cycleways won’t fix the problem of local authorities not wanting to build them. And that local authorities who can’t manage to reallocate street space and who (for whatever reason) put them through multiple stages of consultation and redesign are pushing the prices of urban cycleways up.

          Once we get past that, we will need money for the transition; we’ve got many intersections to fix to make walking and bike friendly. It’ll take a fair bit of work to achieve a network of this density: https://twitter.com/_dmoser/status/1401140052382597123

          That means 3300 km of high quality, segregated cycleways in the Auckland region – which from my quick google has a density in the same order of magnitude as The Netherlands.

      2. This isn’t an $800m cycleway, it’s a $700m roading project. We could easily reallocate a lane of traffic on the bridge for probably well below $100m but they refuse to even entertain the idea so they want to spend an additional $700m to get the same outcome but with one additional lane of traffic.

    2. The concern from cycling advocates is mainly that this is just another announcement and until we see progress on actually delivering then it’s nothing but that.
      It also highlights well the cost of not just reallocating space on the bridge.
      And of course that money could go to on street cycleways all over the city but it’s always easier to deliver 1 big project than 100 small ones, especially if relying on AT to do it

      1. And inequity. $ 800 m to enable an exclusive club (100s a day?) whose lifestyle enables them to make a 20+ km round trip commute by bicycle between Takapuna, Northcote, Birkenhead and the city. Your average Aucklander is not a member of this club.

        It’s so egregious, I can’t even begin to defend it. When there is no safe on-street cycling provision (none at all) across huge swathes of Auckland. Not to mention people living in cars and garages.

        The argument that the issue elsewhere is political will is not credible: there are 100s of streets all over our suburban and industrial areas (some of which are poorly served by PT), where the dreaded trade-off between cars and bicycles (and safer footpaths) could be avoided by making entirely uncontroversial adjustments to the kerbs and berms to fit Dutch-quality cycling lanes into what are often ridiculously wide road corridors, just badly design ones, stuck that way, seemingly forever.

        I often hear about grass roots support for this kind of thing but the reality is neither AT nor the Local Boards have the funds for it.

        But if they had $ 800 m ($ 40 m each!!) with a remit to use it or lose it, we’d have 100s of km of safe cycling infrastructure across the city in short order.

        1. To be fair, there are already equivalent ‘cycling highways’ stretching far west and east, or at least the east one is partially built with the rest under construction. Equity wise the north and south are missing. Do this and it’s only the south to come.

        2. Its not a club of few, its connecting cycle networks on each side of the bridge and where a cycle bridge has been implemented overseas it has been used a lot more than people thought it would. That is before eBikes and eScooters as well so I expect it to be a lot more than people think.

          A crossing was never going to be cheap, as people have suggested and I’m on board with, taking a lane of the harbour bridge would be a much cheaper solution. If you want to get people out of cars and onto public transport and bikes and micromobility transport you need to have decent infrastructure.

          That said I’m not against the cycle bridge, the cost its just a hard pill to swallow. Adding it to a tunnel would probably cost just as much and people don’t seem to care about that, they just don’t want to spend that much on a bridge.

    3. The thing is though. This will provide a backbone for cycling infrastructure in NZ. If you speed 700 million on the bridge. Spending another 20 million on a feeder cycleway to this bridge is insignificant. This sends the message cycling will be more than a novelty it is a serious mode of transport. Further the uptake may surprise you. E-Bikes are taking off & many CBD workers living on the North Shore will have to seriously consider cycling as an option to get to & from work.

    4. Agreed. As someone who has been pro cycling over the harbour bridge for decades I cannot get behind the new proposal. The cost is simply astronomical and in my opinion cannot be justified. Gondola idea sounds much better, at a guess, from similar other constructions overseas, it would cost about 40-50m to build, and would double as a tourist attraction. The savings of $650m can be used to offset maintenance and subsidise local trips to be free + build a cycle highway network throughout the shore. Plus it would be much nicer it the wet/wind. It seems like a no brainer

        1. A gondola makes no sense for the same reason a ferry for cars stopped making sense decades ago. Way too much cost for way too little capacity and convenience.

        2. Gondolas actually have surprisingly high capacity, 2,000 to 4,000 people
          per hour, and almost infinite frequency.

    5. We can look for other bridges that cost a similar amount of money. I’ve heard someone mention the Millau Viaduct in France, which is a motorway bridge over a river valley. I’m not sure about how to compare the cost. I think that viaduct is a bit more expensive, however it is also longer and higher than the Harbour Bridge.

        1. could get the Milau viaduct guys to come over and we could get two multi lane bridges for the price of Jacindas bike bridge

    6. It would solve the Nurses Origination’s pay claim and, to be honest, the benefit in paying nurses more is a lot more than a bridge for 3000 cyclists a day

      1. Not really. Even if it’s a significant amount of money one-off capital funds aren’t much use for covering on-going operational expenses as the money runs out eventually.

      2. No it wouldn’t, the money would be gone in about 18 months if you spent it on nurses pay demands. The 17% they are asking for equates to about half a billion dollars a year.

        1. Jezza and Ricardo are on point and also IMO reveal something sad about the state of the media debate in NZ. I haven’t been paying that much attention but I have read a number of articles talking about the timing of the cycling bridge vs the nurse’s strike or other such comparisons. First time I’ve seen people point out anything like that out.

      3. Why are people only interested in nurses pay, schools and poverty when some (relatively speaking) pennies are proposed for cycling?

        Holiday Highway? Penlink? [insert any other billion dollar roading project, here…]

        At least try to appear sincere and mention a roading project, even if it tokenism….

  3. With all the other projects blowing out in cost I think it’s safe to assume this will end up being a billion dollar cycle way/footpath. What would the cost of building it as a proper busway and cycle way be?. This money would have been better spent upgrading the NAL between Swanson and Waimauku properly to allow an extension of Electrified passenger services.

    1. It’d be a good post to see why the blog does not support any extension to heavy rail service west.
      My guess is, it’s very slow and not competitive with driving at all. It would hurt the business case for light rail northwest, and that light rail would be the better outcome for the region.
      And it probably wouldn’t be cheap. Certainly with the tunnel work and presumably double tracking for more of the line too.

  4. “There’s also funding to upgrade the line between Whangarei and Otira to handle heavier trains.”

    Between Whangarei and Otiria, perhaps?

  5. If we’re going to spend $800m+ on a bridge for walking and cycling, I’d rather spend $2bn and get one that enables rapid transit and gets rid of the need for $10b worth of tunnels and corridor widening at each end.

    Again, it’s garring how this small pocket of Auckland gets so much attention lavished on it with such questionable value while the rest of the city is a congested mess, in a holding pattern waiting for Light Rail 3: The Re-Business-Casening before another year or two of bouncing around desks in Wellington.

    1. +1

      The North Shore population is what? 250,000? Less than 1/7th of Auckland’s population?

      I’m strongly in favour of there being a walking and cycling link there but not at any cost. Meanwhile rapid transit projects serving the isthmus, South and North-west hang in limbo and AT continues to not deliver a cycling network.

      1. 250,000 people would still make it the 3rd biggest city in NZ, after the main part of Auckland and Christchurch. Bigger than Wellington, bigger than Hamiltron, bigger than Tauranga. So, maybe small to you, but still proportionately rather large to the rest of NZ!

        1. My concern is not about the population served but rather about equality. There is no such spending on active modes in other parts of the city, despite just as much need.

        2. Equity is an interesting point. Equity of spending or equity of outcomes?

          There very much is spending on active modes for the other parts of the city, eg the northwestern cycleway and the light path, grafton gulley, the eastern cycleway and tamaki drive cycleways. Those cover the equivalent areas to the west and east. Maybe not quite as expensive added up, but probably not far off.

          With a Harbour to cross, getting an ‘equitable’ cycleway into town from the north is always going to be more expensive.

      2. The three closest to the bridge North Shore wards of Upper Harbour, Kaipatiki & Takapuna/Devonport have a combined population of just over 200k. About Wellington’s total population.
        This bridge would link those 200k directly to the 80k residents of Waitemata ward and then on to the rest of the Isthmus wards and beyond.
        So one way to think of this is as if the only access to Wellington was car, bus or truck (or Ferry). No planes, no trains, NO bikes, NO walking. Even though many people crossed in and out every day.
        Would $685k seem too much to build that link? I think NOT.
        Especially if it saves us from a $2B tunnel or new car bridge.

        1. A tunnel is going to cost $10b, easily. This PT-only bridge is caveated with ‘a future tunnel’ being needed. If you build this half-arsed bridge, you will end up with a tunnel.

          If you build a decent bridge that can move buses/light rail AND provide pedestrian access, then you drastically weaken the need for a hugely expensive tunnel. An $800m walking and cycling only bridge doesn’t do this, and robs funding from other parts of Auckland who haven’t had the luxury of a separate busway for the last decade.

        2. Try $20b more like. That’s what the NZTA big wigs are terrified of. They know their motorway tunnel doesn’t stack up in any way, and doing the crossing properly for cycling and rail will kill any case for it. The busway set back their tunnel dreams 20 years already.

          So they refuse to entertain doing it properly to keep the dream alive, rather than just fixing the problem now.

  6. The cycle/walking bridge won’t get built because as far it’s opponents are concerned it is a culture war issue, so no amount logic will convince them it is a good idea. It has powerful enemies in key decision making areas and the National party will gleefully cancel it if it can the moment it gets into power, so no contractor will be bothered touching it if it can’t be done in the next 24 months.

    Penlink is the same, only exactly the other way round so it is guaranteed to proceed.

    1. If penlink proceeds then the extension of the busway north to redvale would be its only saviour. Just like the current northern corridor improvements. If we could get another 4 km of busway, another 2 or 3 busway stations (redvale, Stillwater, whangaparoa), a tolled pen link road, and the extension of nx2 to there, then it could be a bit of a win.

      I’d go further and say any triple laning project the country does in the future NEEDS to have a parallel dedicated PT corridor and if it does already (eg old rail line) then that needs to be upgraded to be somewhat competitive. These corridors provide far more capacity than the motorway vastly extending its life before upgrade.

    2. So there’s no valid critique of the grossly expensive walking/cycling bridge other than ‘culture war’?

      1. My point is these two projects (in particular) seem to have departed the realm of rational critique and leapt into a wholly different, highly politicised one of a culture war. There is no doubt that Waka Kotahi has a deeply entrenched pro-ICB mindset that is opposed to spending a cent on cycling and walking. Simon Wilson reckons

        “…Waka Kotahi and its contractors have “more than 50 people” working on a solution for biking and walking across the Waitematā. After 17 years, that looks like 50 people working on how to make nothing happen…”

        That feeds an entire eco-system of culture war for profit tabloid media like ZB and our Prebyterian version of the Daily Mail (the NZ Herald). The fight for cross harbour cycle/walking access is now a culture war bun fight which will splutter on for another 17 years, something which I am sure at least 50 people on a nice little gravy train at Waka Kotahi don’t mind one little bit.

        Penlink on the other hand has full Waka Kotahi buy in and now the centre left government has brought into it as well I expect it’ll fly through.

        1. Generally public servants (and consultants) actually hate working on projects that don’t get delivered. I’ve recently spoken to very, very frustrated people who have worked on light rail, northwestern rapid transit, and inner west cycleways. Most people don’t become engineers, designers, or planners to engineer, design, or plan for things to not happen.

        2. Engineers/designers/planners aside, there was an article on Stuff yesterday on the blowout in PR departments at govt ministries and organisations since Labour came into power.

          Some of the numbers were staggering but, apparently (based on an OIR), WK has the largest PR department – 72pax.

        3. No one at waka kotahi supports penlink. It was recommended to be dropped but cabinet kept it in and gave it more money to proceed.

        4. WK has the biggest PR department but still can’t communicate well and courteously on projects that affect residents…speaking from recent personal experience. Hopeless!

      2. It’s not exactly a grossly expensive bike/walk bridge. It’s a grossly expensive car lane. We could easily reallocate one lane of traffic for essentially the same outcome for walking/biking but apparently we’d rather spend another $700m+ just to preserve that superfluous lane.
        Though yes, I agree with you that we should just build the bus/bike/ped bridge and stuff the tunnel.

    3. It’ll be another five years at least until National are in power, plenty of time to get this bridge under construction.

      1. So you are saying all NZTA needs to do is take some 4 years to consent it, then they can ensure it won’t happen.

        No sweat. They will take 2-3 years before they move beyond pretty pictures anyway. First consent hearing, 2026 maybe? Appeals will then consistently ensure it will blow out until another year or two so National can cancel it.

        It’s an expensive red herring. National is just their consistent old “burn down the world as long as we don’t have to change our driving habits” but Labour is a disappointment.

        1. I don’t doubt you. My comment was more about the likelihood of National getting back into power soon than anything else.

        2. It’s daft shit like this that will hand power back to National.
          This project will struggle to get consented and when it fails, Michael Wood will look like Phil Twyford on steroids. I really can’t understand why he went with this.
          Meanwhile, we will be waiting another 10 years for Skypath and this could stop funds going to safe off-road cycle pathways around the rest of Auckland. A start would be safer cycle lanes connecting the shore to the NW cycle path.

  7. If there’s an ambition to build a walking and cycling bridge, why not make it capable of PT also?
    $7-800m as others have said is hugely expensive, and arguably could be spent on safe cycling facilities for the entire Auckland urban region …

    1. Only if we were to re-allocate road-space, and as agencies have shown, they are no willing to do that. Cycleways in Auckland are only added if the poor drivers aren’t inconvenienced in the least. Which massively drives up all the costs, because even where it is possible, its extremely expensive to relocate everything and rebuild it in a narrower space.

      So basically like adding another half-basement to a Ponsonby villa to “fix the housing crisis” rather than allowing someone to pull it down and build an apartment building.

  8. Waka Kotahi was refreshed in 2019. But they haven’t changed. The are still opaque, continually pushing road building and not delivering on bikeways and PT. They are deliberately doing it even though Labours plan is to spend less on roads and as to increase the very small bikeway programme.
    They now build roads at double or tripple the cost that lay twice the thickness of base material and asphalt, they spend huge on roundabouts and unsafe intersection slip lanes, train stations that are huge monument structures such as Puhinui and Otahuhu for $70million. Bikeways such as K’Rd and Tamaki Dr are the most expensive in the world and take 2 years to build 1km.
    They just won’t build low cost bikeways, such as what they have done in Paris, that would be very popular near schools and work places but instead build the Norana park bikeway for $10s of millions with an expansion planned. That bikeway is a lemon. They dropped both the Otahuhu and the GI bikeways after expensive consultations and plans were drawn up. The bike group in Wellington built a low cost functional bikeway in Berampore but NZTA will surely build it at high cost and with a long construction time.
    NZTA spending is out of control and they have no thoughts for other parts of our economy that need more funds. They have no care for emissions, sprawl, high costs for families living in far suburbs, congestion and our health. WK need to be refreshed again

      1. True, though all the comments really apply to AT too – they’ve multiple times, from the Chair of the Board to the CEO down to middle management have vowed to do better on cycling. Instead they are decreasing the targets and getting ever more timid.

    1. K Road and Tamaki Drive werent cycleway projects. Tamaki Drive was a seawall repair project and K Road was a streetscape renewal project. They both included cycleways.

  9. The $685 million walking and cycling bridge is…. interesting. It makes the #liberatehtelane trial even more important. If the trial goes ahead, and the sky doesn’t fall in for motorway traffic – then you’ve just found a way to save yourself $680 million. But if they are going to spend that much money on a bridge: why not future proof it to carry light rail in the future?

    1. I’m not sure how a Light Rail link would fit into the new bridge, but I’m sure they would find a way. Certainly makes sense to fit a lightweight walking and cycling structure onto a Public Transport bridge, knocks off two targets in one go, and would be far lass likely to be cancelled. I can’t help feeling that this bridge is going to be the equivalent of Phil Twyford’s (remember him?) brain fart for metro down Dominion Road. It destroyed his political career. Is this the thing that will finish Michael Wood’s career?

      Maybe it is a giant NZTA conspiracy though. Deliberately propose ridiculous sums of money for projects involving a cycleway, which virtual guarantee massive backlash from the motoring lobby. Its similar to the proposal for a cycle path alongside the harbour in Wellington. Some say it is really a scheme to provide an added layer of security for the existing rail and road link – essentially a beefed up sea wall – but stick a walking and cycling track along it and suddenly it can all be blamed on a cycleway.

      1. +1
        Seawalls are being promoted as cycleways.
        Hutt City Council is building a ‘shared pathway’ from Eastbourne to Point Howard on the seaward side.
        For reasons of transport choice, of course…
        Any other examples of undeclared seawall upgrades in your area?

        1. Its also being put under the cycleway budget, and will consume that budget for a few years.

        2. @Sailor,
          Further expense comes from designing the whole path surface (including the “cycling and pedestrian” overbridge near Ngauranga) as a road for heavy vehicles (emergency access in case Hutt Rd blocked by major slip or major crash).

    2. +1.
      I am wondering if it is is a way of getting public support for #liberatehtelane as a cost effective option.

      1. Nah. They hate both options, and are too cowardly to take the flak for removing one lane, even on a trial basis. That’s why they’ve rolled out the “we need at least two lanes to make it safe”, when at 9m total space on the clip-ons that’s clearly rubbish.

        You could easily have a 5m wide lane, 2m for a massive crash barrier, and then a 3m cycleway (the existing *movable* median barrier is much narrower than 2m, and gets moved so as to leave only one remaining lane, and has motorway speed traffic both ways). Its all just a massive “can’t do” attitude from the agency.

        1. Will the clip on take the weight of a crash barrier?

          If you want to cut the amount of traffic across the bridge just take a gas axe to the clip ons

    3. New bridges across the Waitemata have previously been discounted on the basis that they would be extremely difficult to be consented. This has changed, at least to some extent, through the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 (https://environment.govt.nz/assets/Publications/Files/fast-track-overview-fact-sheet.pdf ) which amongst other provisions defined a number of listed projects, included a “ Northern Pathway – Westhaven to Akoranga shared path” that are automatically eligible for the fast tracking process (https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2020/0035/latest/LMS345621.html). This is probably why the new bridge is only proposed for walking and cycling use in order , rather than also including PT. The fast track consenting act only applies for 2 years from mid 2020, so there will be pressure on to secure the consent as soon as possible.

      1. It’s pretty clear that any AWHC would have to be enabled by an Act of Parliament rather than the usual consent process.

  10. Definitely nothing transformational. All of the PT projects are ones National were going to do anyway aren’t they?
    Kind of feels like the time to build infrastructure has gone, its too expensive now. Might need to just make better use of what we have and do lots of small projects instead.
    The idea of Gondolas to the shore sounded interesting.

      1. Gondolas can form a very valid part of a cities PT network, they have their niche and semi decent capacity with low construction costs. This is probably not a good usecase for one though.

  11. These maps are weird… Opaheke is a suburb in Papakura (as in, the railway station is just 1.09km from Opaheke School), not a separate area several kilometres to the south… and Drury is also located too far to the east though, at least, it will eventually be approximately there once all the new development is done. I know Google maps puts its Drury label in basically the same place, but it accurately locates Opaheke.

    Anyway, what I was unclear on is whether the intended extension to the Southern Path will continue. I mean, they are building Auranga in the vicinity of the motorway junction so it makes sense from that POV.

    1. The Drury label seems to point at the “new Drury” (subdivisions) proposed there to the southeast of historic Drury “village”.

      I understand the motorway works (and the shared path) will extend as far south as the GSR interchange at Drury.

  12. Can you imagine the Cabinet meeting where they agreed $380million was the right sum to spend on papakāinga housing. Then they decided a bridge for a few grumpy cyclists was worthy of $680 million. It says warm dry shelter for Māori families is worth less to NZ than some childish adult cyclists crying “I want a pony”.

    1. Nobody has cried, “I want a pony.” People on foot, bike, scooter, wheelchair and skateboard got out to demonstrate a low-cost way to get active travel over the bridge. Your divisive comments don’t help create a society that can peacefully make the transition we need.

      What the NZUP’s enormous roading spend does say about Labour’s values is that their commitment to our climate targets and our children’s wellbeing is extremely flaky. But these changes are definitely in the right direction and I think the Minister of Transport has probably done the best he could with a bad set of projects to start with and a Cabinet stuck in 1970.

      1. While I agree that the Minister has probably done the best he could, the real issue is that his best isn’t good enough. Announcing a $680million boondoggle, that nobody is silly enough to actually build, isn’t helping anybody.

        1. The boondoggle is Penlink: $830 million to make our children’s future more catastrophic. And all the rest of those roading projects.

          The outrage about the cycling bridge cost is most revealing given the lack of outrage about the higher roading costs. I know transition is hard, but this is really displaying a lack of critical thinking. Yes, investing in cycling involves a change in values – maybe it’s worth doing for that alone?

          Because we must stop building roads. Any more roads are worse than just a waste of money. They are nails in your children’s coffin. The cost of the cycling bridge is pretty silly – it can be avoided, and if they’re going to do it, they should do it with rail as well. But at least it’s not doing what these roading projects are doing – sending us backwards on our transport transformation journey.

        2. Maybe if Penlink had been built a decade and a half ago, it wouldn’t cost such an eye-watering amount now. Of course, there’s since been a huge amount of development in the area. So I’d like to see what new alternatives are for freeing up the Peninsula, given the bar to get under for cost-effectiveness is now so much higher – and preferably not just ‘drive to Silverdale to catch a bus’ which seems to be the default expectation.

        3. Well we can agree on one thing. If they are going to do it then it should include public transport. There is also no need whatsoever to provide 43m clearance under it for ships that never went to a port that was never built on land that is now a nature reserve. A flatter bridge would work for light rail, walking and cycling. It would also cost less.

        4. “A flatter bridge would work for light rail, walking and cycling. It would also cost less.”

          “Ah, another reason for appeals! The poor boaties with their supertall yachts. The industrial future of the Western Waitemata needing shipping access!” *rubs hand in obstructionist glee…*

    2. Interesting that you chose those 2. What about $420 mil for one motorway interchange in Lower Hutt? Isn’t that like a 1/3 of the cost of Waterview?

    3. And perhaps in the same Cabinet meeting they agreed to half a million for help for the Canterbury floods. There is something well out of whack in the Labour Cabinet.

        1. “(which was paid for by motorists).” is a very poor argument.
          There are much better arguments for doing nothing, but this is not one of them.

        2. That’s the Do Nothing approach that leads to enormous carbon mitigation costs, trade sanctions for an irresponsible climate response, eventually and continued youth depression. The term is Passive Aggressive, I guess.

        3. The do nothing is 4C of temperature rise by 2100 at a cost of trillions of dollars, continuing deaths from air pollution and diseases of inactivity, chronic loneliness in elderly suburban populations. The do nothing option isn’t acceptable.

          Motorists pay to create the crashes and air pollution, yet they force non-motorists to deal with those. The least they can do is allow non-motorists on the bridge.

        4. Paid for by former motorists. Very few who drive across the harbour bridge today have ever paid a toll to use it.

        5. Whoever paid for it didn’t pay for what was required when you build a bridge that opens up land for people to live in. What’s required is access for all people, not just those who can drive and thus economically and socially benefit from the entire network of subsidised roads. It is incredibly bad planning to isolate suburbs in this way – and that was known at the time.

        6. The point is Sailor Boy doesn’t get to redefine the Do Nothing as being his pet scheme and then claim the existing is an expensive option. That is him attempting a weak argument.

          I accept all of the ‘we can’t go on generating carbon at the current rate’ arguments but nobody has demonstrated this daft cycle bridge will reduce carbon at all let alone by enough to justify $680million. You seem to be using the ‘something must be done, this is something, so this must be done’ BS.

        7. Miffy, I never claimed that my option was the do nothing, you made that up yourself as a strawman because you can’t actually defend keeping the eighth lane

        8. Sailor Boy said “$680m to keep one lane on the harbour bridge…”
          It cost zero to keep lanes on the Harbour Bridge. It only costs $680miilion to keep a lane if you redefine the Do Nothing.

          Heidi said “That’s the Do Nothing approach that leads to enormous carbon mitigation costs, trade sanctions for an irresponsible climate response, trade sanctions for an irresponsible climate response, eventually and continued youth depression.”
          If the taxpayers gave you $680 million to reduce carbon, promote trade or tackle youth depression then I doubt a cycle bridge over the Auckland Harbour would even make your long list of options of how best to spend it.

        9. “Very few who drive across the harbour bridge today have ever paid a toll to use it” – I remember it well, as I’m not very old at all, and it was the highlight of every trip. I don’t remember how much it was (Dad was paying – it was coins) and you could skilfully hand them to the man or woman at the booth, without stopping. Somehow that seemed nicer that the more anonymous, big brother type reading of the number plate and then emailing you a bill or automatically deducting cash from your credit card account.

          The system in the USA is much more fun – an automatic coin counter that you could simply through a handful of coins into and it would go caching caching and count them and then let you through. All over the States where toll roads exist (like on the way to the Dulles airport in DC). Tolls are not such a bad thing…

        10. They’re prepared to announce a $680 mil mini bridge to avoid taking a lane of the existing bridge.
          This should tell you enough about the likelihood of them seriously considering taking that lane.
          It ain’t gonna happen.

        11. I
          Did
          Not
          Mention
          A
          Do
          Nothing

          The eighth lane costs $680m when you look at marginal cost. The cost to get a cycleway is $675m which rounds to $680m.

        12. Lost half my comment

          The eighth lane costs $680m when you look at marginal cost. The cost to get a cycleway is $675m which rounds to $680m.

        13. No. The eighth lane exists now so it is a sunk cost with a marginal cost of zero. Your claim that this new bridge values an eighth lane at $680million is based on a false narrative that one lane can be swapped to a cycle lane without cost and without assessment. Your statement assumes your conclusion. You are begging the question.

        14. Miffy by your argument almost every street in Auckland city should still be dedicated to cycling, trams, and the horse and cart. Sounds like a good swap.

        15. +1, Jimbo. miffy, existing infrastructure is not a “sunk cost” it is an asset that needs inclusion in investment decisions. Waka Kotahi’s Intervention Hierarchy directs them to use existing infrastructure better BEFORE building new infrastructure. And what is “better” is outlined in the GPS:

          supporting alternatives to key routes and modes to improve the resilience of the network, making active modes more attractive, for influencing travel demand and transport choice, making cities places where people can safely and enjoyably travel by walking and cycling, making a rapid transition to a low carbon transport system…

          Get used to reallocation, miffy.

        16. Miffy, that’s not how marginal cost works in a comparative assessment. Let me know if you want to catch up for an explainer sometime.

  13. Interesting letter in the Herald this morning suggesting three crossings make sense. That is the existing one for cars the proposed cycling and walking bridge and a tunnel for trucks and buses and possibly trains if they are needed. My take is there would need to be some pretty hefty ventilation in the tunnel unless only electric buses and trucks were allowed to use it. Which might be a pretty good stick to use to get transport companies to de carbonise their fleet. Anyway it would seem to be a plan instead of the constant squabbling, inertia and lack of leadership we seem to be stuck with. In fact we need a bit of divine influence in the planning department of our Govt and Council. It seems to me this might be a spark that with a bit of care could become a torch which could shed enough light to lead us out of the wilderness.

    1. That letter nearly gets it right, except has been distracted by the total nonsense that the bridge is in anyway past its useful life. It isn’t, even if heavy traffic is consigned to the centre lanes, it’s mostly empty private cars that fill the bridge, so it’s the currently missing rapid transit that’s needed after this crossing, as the Minister said; some sort of rail system for when the Busway maxes out.

      Trains not lanes.

      1. Still I think the majority believe there should be a backup for the current bridge. Obviously not the posters on this site they are more focused on reducing the number of lanes available for cars on the bridge than actually making a trip cycling or walking over the bridge. But the fact remains cycles and walkers should be able to cross the harbour. This idea is the best I have seen yet. After all this is a democracy. And before some smart Alec comes on and tells us the backup is the upper harbour bridge just think what the next Govt might look like. A back lash is coming.

        1. And since we love our kids, we face the backlash and get people thinking about climate change properly instead of defensively. We need deliberative democracy.

          What the letter got wrong is that the tunnel will cost too much. It is in the funny money category that’s beyond comprehension for most of us. But we can’t spend such a lot of our kids’ money on such a boondoggle – regardless of how much the Barons at WK want to. The debt, maintenance and environmental burden we’re leaving our kids is too high already without considering something so exorbitant.

        2. Anyway I look at it there has to be a backup to the current bridge. The easiest would be another bridge alongside the existing one. The proposed cycling and walking bridge seems to suggest the next crossing will be a tunnel. I believe posters to this site want a rail only tunnel but that isn’t except able. Or is it necessary to have rail on the northshore but that is what posters on this site are aiming for. We have a perfectly acceptable busway. So You are going against logic and going against mainstream opinion and I expect you won’t succeed.

        3. Why does there have to be a back-up to the current bridge? I can’t think of many places in the world where there is a spare crossing over a river or a harbour.

          What people really want is an extra crossing with extra capacity.
          However, that is unlikely to ever be built as there isn’t capacity in the surrounding road network so it would end up being a redundant spare anyway.

        4. This blog is going *with* logic, against mainstream consensus.

          A third crossing to sit around just as a spare is a colossal waste of $10b. To build it would be popular but illogical.

          Currently no one can walk or cycle across the bridge, it is logical to correct that. Leaving motorists seven lanes would be unpopular but it’s the logical solution for the next few years.

          The busway and motorway will soon be over capacity. At really busy geographic choke points it is logical to increase capacity using public transport.

        5. A your arguments are irrelevant because I don’t expect national or act will see it your way and sooner or later they will be back in the driving seat. Go for the lane for cycling but it will be a hollow victory peddling through the fumes when you could have a standalone bridge because sooner or later there will be another road crossing either tunnel or bridge close to the current harbour bridge. My guess is labour who are not completely stupid will announce a road tunnel maybe only for buses and trucks but maybe with lanes for cars prior to the next election. And let’s see how Goff and like minded councillors do in the local body elections.

        6. “Go for the lane for cycling but it will be a hollow victory peddling through the fumes”

          Luckily Nationals solution to climate change is to wait for EVs to replace petrol cars (without any incentive other than offering up the Northern Busway to Evs lolz) so that takes care of your fume problem.

        7. @ Royce “because sooner or later there will be another road crossing either tunnel or bridge close to the current harbour bridge.

          I really don’t agree, with the completion of the full western ring route, and a hopefully a new dedicated PT crossing, the business case for the next road crossing near downtown is swiftly evaporating. Especially with the reduction in the need for cars to enter the CBD that is happening all the time. With that in mind another car crossing would only serve the south and inner west which is getting better PT all the time and whos motorways are saturated anyway. Side note, I think they should change SH1 to the ring route (a purely symbolic change) but would I think help people understand the changing tides.

        8. Yes, Jack. When I get a chance I’m going to look at the trip projections used, how the target emissions reductions will influence how those trips should be shared between modes, and look at the ability of the current bridge to accommodate that. I think you’re probably right.

          This is what working backwards from our goals looks like, and it’s an analysis that WK have not done.

        9. An EV tunnel would be cool, and would encourage uptake, but I cant see the case for that standing up at all either.
          Based on the noises the NZTA are making it sounds like the clipons will be fine for light cars for many many decades to come. So their replacement isn’t needed now by any stretch of the imagination.
          You could do a combined crossing which doesn’t make any sense either. Any PT tunnel needs to have fully dedicated lanes for the rails so there is very little to be gained by doing a combined crossing unless you were doing huge bores and are adding 3 car lanes each way (which again we dont need to do at all)
          Any combined crossing seriously hurts the optimal PT alignment.
          So barring doing a huge lane expansion it makes sense to do totally seperate tunnels, in which case its a differnt project, and should be treated as such.
          And in the case its a differnt project, that’d be a very very expensive project that would carry relatively few people quickly to the next bottleneck.
          Multiple km of motorway underground constructed out of very constrained sites, that would add very little network capacity. Not cheap and next to no payoff for the city.

  14. Good to see the Marsden Point line will go ahead and there is the potential for 2 million tonnes of rail freight in Northland. One thing which will be needed is the reinstatement of the log yards at Helensville, Wellsford and Otiria as well as the new container transfer yard at Otiria. Wellsford and Helensville are both limited by lack of space so maybe entirely new facilities should be built. I wonder if there would be sufficient containers to warrant handling them at Wellsford as well. One thing I don’t want to see is a repeat of the reopening of the Wairoa Napier line. Six months after the line had being reopened no trains had run because they were waiting for the log yard at Wairoa to be built. Anyway that’s in the past now and trains are running every weekend as planned.

    1. Yes please! The roads around Helensville (and through to Wellsford) have been utterly destroyed by logging trucks! They pass by at least once every half hour (and strangely in both directions!!).

    2. Incidentally, there’s enough volume to warrant daily services between Napier and Wairoa, the problem is a lack of rolling stock at the moment.

  15. Thanks, Matt. Your chart of the different projects is excellent.

    I can’t see how Penlink can be justified. It’ll simply prevent any attempts to make Whangaparaoa less car dependent, put loads more traffic onto State Highway 1 – which will put pressure on WK to widen it – and make it hard for Council to refuse to allow sprawl development in the Weiti area.

  16. Ridiculous that ANY new crossing is not multi-modal. Needs to include SOME form of “mass transit” – bus, train – or complete waste of consenting and pier building.

  17. Maybe if we wanted a large chunk of single house large expensive villa zoning, Whangaparaoa would have been a good place for it, given how difficult it is to arrange enough transport capacity.

    1. Too bad there are no villas. If rapid transit were to be included with penlink it could be a perfect spot for upzoning. Great views there and no heritage to protect.

  18. The NZTA and AT people may be more realistic than we think in their pricing.
    The breakdown in the supply chains around the world is having massive flow-ons in supply, which also means costs. I recommend a video by Wendover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1JlYZQG3lI
    Also today’s Economist has a piece about major cost inflation in building and construction supplies in the US. I only skimmed the item but no reason to think NZ
    will avoid this.

  19. To everyone saying this bridge should also include PT:
    – The load on the bridge would be orders of magnitude higher to support transit vehicles, and so the design and construction would take much longer. Also much more risk for costs to blow out even higher if it needs to support more weight.
    – What would PT do when it gets to the other side? Having it join the motorway would be a hell of a challenge, and if not then it needs a structure built out into harbour which would take even longer to consent.
    – We don’t yet know what mass transit to the shore will be. The bridge would need to be designed to specifically accomodate whatever future mode is chosen, which we won’t know until (at least) the end of 2021, so it would push back the programme by a while. Especially as it would then involved multiple teams of people across many different modes and organisations. Also it’s looking like that PT connection will be a tunnel anyway, to avoid ecological damage around the harbour edge and also link directly from Aotea station to Takapuna. And if you’re worried about bus delays,
    – The northern busway is planned to be upgraded over the next decade or so to build its capacity (eg HOP turnstiles at busway stations to speed up boarding, dedicated bus approaches on either side of AHB, turn shoulders into bus lanes south of akoranga, etc) so there will be very little bus delay across the harbour by the time the bridge would be completed anyway.
    – The money is tied somewhat to shovel-ready economic stimulus money, so pushing it back would lessen the case for a big spend later. I also expect govt wants to get shovels in ground before the next election in case the Nats can it.

    1. The load on the bridge would not be orders of magnitude higher as most of the load on large bridges is the load of the bridge itself. The bridge would probably be designed with strength for 1000 people at a time. This is close to 100 tonnes. A fully loaded large bus in only about 20 tonnes.

      PT would continue on a busway or light railway (subject to mode choice. Almost no reclamation is needed to accommodate LRT on the existing causeway to Akoranga and northbound buses could travel north through the toll plaza and switch sides at Onewa if needed. On the southern side we can fit a busway or LRT through St Marys Bay be narrowing and reallocating the existing traffic lanes and bus lane.

      We don’t need to design specifically for a chosen mode. We can design to accommodate the likely modes. An LRT, Metro, or bus bridge is almost identical.

      We do not need to build a tunnel across the harbout to avoid ecological damage. We could tunnel from the toll plaza to just north of Onewa and then use the existing lanes which include two bus lanes to form our rapid transit route.

      The busway is set to be upgraded, yet the same reports that show how that will be done also show that the busway will run out of capacity and a second corridor or a rail based solution is needed.

      Incorporating PT doesn’t need to delay this. We simply build the bridge on an alignment that enables PT, build it to handle PT (cross section and weight) and then separately consent the PT to the north and south.

    2. “We don’t yet know what mass transit to the shore will be.’

      It will be light rail, running on the current Northern “busway” supported by local connector buses.

  20. It really beggars belief that after decades of land price increases, the government and councils don’t purchase the land much earlier in the process to avoid the added expense of buying it later. Yes doing so ties up some capital (which at low interest rates isn’t a huge deal and it is an appreciating asset). Even for projects not planned to be done for 10/20/30 years they should be doing this. In the meantime they can still get income from the land and if it is later decided it’s not needed then it can be disposed of for a profit.

    1. It’s not currently legal to do that. It would require a law change that I think would be hugely unpopular, allowing the government to purchase land for projects that may or may not happen and ending up with the urban blight we get around thee Strand all of the country.

      1. They can purchase at any time and hold for as long as they like. They are limited to when they can force a sale. For that they have to demonstrate a need which is usually done via a Notice of Requirement process.

  21. Helsinki is building a 10 km long tram + cycling route with three bridges of length 400 m, 293 m, and 1200 m. It was originally priced at 360 million euro but the cost has now increased to 450 million euro.

    Seriously, what is going on with these cost estimates?

    Palmerston North has a brand new 190 m cycling bridge, it cost $10 million. Presumably a part of the much higher cost per metre of the Auckland bridge is its height and long spans to allow the odd boat through.

    1. “Palmerston North has a brand new 190 m cycling bridge, it cost $10 million” – that’s great! (for Palmy). As the Harbour bridge needs to be 10 times longer, we could just link 10 of those Palmy designs together, to build a new pedestrian/cycling bridge for a cost of just $100m then…. Only one small problem though: we would need to have 10 concrete pylons crossing the Waitemata for it to sit on….

      Actually, more seriously, I am wondering about whether a suspension bridge would be a better solution, rather than a very flat compression arch as they have chosen…

  22. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this ended up becoming the most expensive walking and cycling bridge in the world’

    Solution: A $10.00 toll each way. Then we will see how many cyclists still want to use it. Unfortunately cyclists pay no road tax, petrol tax, or regional fuel taxes, requiring others to pay for any cycling paths.

    1. None of the NZUP projects are funded from road taxes, they are funded from general taxation. The same principle would apply to any of these projects.

    2. The new roads here would also need a $10 toll each way to pay the interest on the construction cost. Fuel taxes and RUC only cover 70% of the direct costs of the road network so these are already oversubscribed.

    3. Don’t forget it’s still better value than any of the road projects in NZUP, which induce more subsidised driving that causes DSI, inactivity-related health costs and climate change.

    4. @BusDriver: I’m a cyclist (scooterist technically), and I pay tonnes of road tax, petrol tax, and regional fuel tax. Every single other cyclist I know is the same.

    5. There would be very few people who exclusively operate a bicycle, so most would be paying these taxes via their car use. Not to mention rates, income tax and other contributions to society’s general good. Also the health benefits of cycling reduces the load on the health system, and bikes cause minimal wear to surfaces (unlike motorised vehicles). I have not attempted the calculation but I would believe that cyclists have the best cost benefit ratio of any participant in society. Not to mention the inherent happiness that accompanies such an activity.

      1. “Unfortunately cyclists pay no road tax, petrol tax, or regional fuel taxes, requiring others to pay for any cycling paths.”

        This is the nonsense thinking that the active modes are up against.

        The only mode I know that doesn’t pay tax is vehicles. Carbon tax.

        1. In the case of the NLTF it’s not nonsense at all. You are only contributing to it if you’re driving ( or using a bus).
          If you’re cycling or scootering etc you are not contributing.
          That’s not to say the the fund should be solely for roading just that the argument is false.
          There is also a carbon component in PET and RUC.

        2. “There would be very few people who exclusively operate a bicycle, so most would be paying these taxes via their car use”

          Pay taxes when they drive their car, reduce emissions when they choose the bike.

        3. You can’t pay into the NLTF unless you’re driving.
          You’re not generating any tax unless you’re driving.
          The act of cycling does not generate tax.

        4. And the cyclists contributed on the days they chose their cars. Which most would, at some point.

          Thanks.

        5. None of the NZUP is funded from road tax however. It is 100% crown grant, so all from general tax take, so trying to divide people by transport mode is irrelevant.

          Plus if you believe the (nonsense) idea that ‘cyclists’ are all entitled wealthy types then they are paying more of this (though this is also a terrible argument).

          You’re welcome.

        6. We’re discussing a 100% taxpayer funded transport programme in which the majority of the spend is on roads. And the driving on those roads is heavily subsidised; maintenance – though enormous – is only a small part of the cost of the ongoing cost of that driving.

  23. Ōtaki-to-North-Levin: as I recall this was originally part of RONS, but was cancelled by the then National government as the BCR under the original $400 m cost was too low. It was revived by Labour as a 2-lane highway and then expanded to 4 lanes – possibly even before NZ Upgrade?

    The December 2018 Indicative Business Case lists:
    2 lane highway $550M – $630M BCR 0.5 – 0.8
    4 lane highway $687M – $790M BCR 0.35 – 0.65

    A $1500m cost would put the benefit-cost ratio at 0.18 – 0.30. But presumably, since the road is now approved, the whole method of using benefits and costs to evaluate projects is now in the bin?

    That business case also noted that BCR < 1 would not even meet the requirement for a 'Low' rating (which needs BCR from 1 to 2.9, and puts a project in the bottom of 5 priority ranks). But: "ahead of clarification and any consequent adjustment that may occur in respect of the above matters, in order to determine an overall IAF profile, a ‘Low’ cost benefit appraisal is adopted at this time."

    And finally, because the result scores "very high" under "results alignment", it vaults all the way up the table from priority 5 to priority 1.

    1. The Investment Assessment Framework used by Waka Kotahi (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning-and-investment/learning-and-resources/applying-the-investment-assessment-framework/introduction-to-the-iaf/) considers both results alignment and benefit- cost appraisal outcomes. This reflects that just considering a project’s merits in terms of a BCR is pretty silly especially for complex and costly projects. Most rail projects also result in low BCR’s although in some cases this is a result of the limitations of the WK monetised costs and benefits appraisal approach.

      1. So is the process sound? Without knowing more details it sounds like “results alignment” could be used to justify any project whatsoever.

    2. “It was revived by Labour…”
      NZTA was doing community engagement on the Otaki – Levin expressway project in mid 2017 (i.e. before the election).

  24. The constant high blowout costs indicate that:

    1) The optimism bias being applied is too low.

    2) The optimism bias may not be being carried through to actual budgets and only applied in the transport economics.

    Both issues need review and fixing.

  25. Actually – here’s another option. According to the experts, the reason it has to be a new bridge on seperate supports is because having a bridge on just one side would unbalance the existing concrete pylons.

    I’m just wondering IF anyone has checked out whether putting a small bridge on each side (to even up the load) would be an advantage… I know, I know, the cost could double – but perhaps it could double from a smaller cost base? It would be great to see the vast suite of other design options that the NZTA’s bridge designers must have gone through. Do we even know who the designers may be? Presumably not in-house – some external consultant company like Beca or Opus perhaps?

  26. I can’t imagine that the CO2 emissions portioned out over the useful life of the bridge would be a saving on aa saving to all the cyclist taking a car over the existing bridge? Would like to see that assessment Seems like a terrible project from a cost and CO2 perspective. And then sooner or later they will need a third harbour crossing. What a joke.
    Surely just build the tunnel then give the cyclists a lane or two in the bridge.

  27. I am all for a cycle lane over the harbour as I have been sitting at the ferry terminal for almost an hour as I just missed the last service, so ended up getting a scooter instead but also have been turned away by bus drivers.
    But I am really disappointed in this idea for many reasons, mainly that it won’t cost that much more to get a bridge with Busway built in,
    It also is a piss take on our harbour especially for a city Auckland’s size, and reinforces the poor design of our current bridge.
    Also the money spent on this will delay any potential bus or rail crossing for decades and force us down the tunnel road early.
    I think they should just build an 8 lane bridge and remove the clip on lanes from the current bridge and make the new bridge south bound 5 lanes and the current bridge north bound 4 lanes,
    This will save the tunnel for the next 40 to 70 years when the current bridge will need replacing.
    After all the 1st bridge was short sighted and the clip on lanes an after thought so this bridge really needs to get it right.

      1. Why would you need a new 8(!) lanes and discard clip-ons which probably have a 30-40yr lifespan still?

        If a new bridge is the solution (it needn’t be), then make it a single lane in each direction for PT (BRT now, LRT later) with a cycling and walking path attached.

        Cars can be left with the current bridge. Over time, changes in travel behaviours (forced and unforced) will mean a lane frees up on the bridge and so eventually, cycling and scooters could take the western clip-on

        There should be no new capacity for us drivers. We have an alternative route (UHH), alternative mode options, and we have shown we can’t use the space given to us efficiently.

  28. Why is it so difficult to build just a short attachment to the bridge when other countries build a bridge with longer length with ease?
    I know that the construction materials costs went up by large amount, but I still don’t see how the project costs nearly double the original estimate.

    No idea where they are wasting budget on but I think I can suggest an option or two to someone involved in the project so that they can shave off some spending. Can anyone point me to the right direction? Who or which agencies to contact for suggestion?

  29. So you’re against Penlink because $700m will only attract 16,800 users a day, but you’re in favour of the pedestrian bridge also costing $700m but only targeting 5000 users a day? That doesn’t make sense.

    The Sydney Harbour bridge only attracts 3000 walkers/cyclists per day, and that’s easier to use and amongst a higher population.

    The Auckland pedestrian and cycling bridge will no doubt top $1b, and for that kind of money they could probably come close to making the bridge a 2 lane busway extension.

    It’ll be the biggest waste of money since the daft East-West Link proposal. But being a Labour project, it will probably not happen like so many other things.

    1. One will increase emissions and one will decrease emissions.
      One will increase transport capacity and therefore development opportunities close to the city, one will encourage outer rim development and worse travel for anyone not in the road development area.

      Its also worth pointing out that the post itself, and most of the comments didn’t explicitly support the new bridge proposal (most are critical). The post mostly talking about the downsides and missed opportunities and the proposal details itself.

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