Welcome to 2022. After wrapping up 2021 before Christmas, here’s a look at some of the things we can expect to see in 2022.
Overall it appears that COVID will continue to loom large over the year and will be a major factor, potentially directly but certainly on things such as travel patterns.
Projects to be completed
There are number of high-profile projects due to be completed this year, though with more COVID disruption potentially looming, who knows what might happen. There will of course be plenty of other smaller projects that will be completed too.
The Northern Corridor project which includes the extension of the Northern Busway is due to be completed towards the end of the year. The busway extension will be a very welcome addition to busway users travelling to Albany or Silverdale. The project will also see the first stage of the Northern Path completed – between Albany and Constellation Dr. However, we won’t see opening of the Rosedale Busway station, completion of which has been delayed till 2024.
Stage 2 of the Eastern Path is due for completion in the middle of this year. That will leave just section 4, between Orakei Station and Tamaki Dr to go, though that may not start till 2023 or later.
2022 will also see the completion of the New Lynn to Avondale path.
Another prominent project being completed is the replacement of the Old Mangere Bridge. Parts of the arch for it are now in place
Works start today on the planned upgrade to Queen St and they’re due for completion in September. The plan will use pavers to widen the footpath and make a shared path on the Eastern side of the street – we’re not a fan of the shared path design for Auckland’s busiest people street
In Auckland two big roading projects (other than the Northern Corridor) are due for completion and both are related, Puhoi to Warkworth and Matakana Link Rd. Given many people living in Warkworth will then have to travel north out of Warkworth to reach the motorway, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see locals start advocating a lot more strongly for a southern interchange.
Down in Wellington, 2022 should see the completion of Transmission Gully but given its history, perhaps this one shouldn’t be in the completed list.
Both the Puhoi to Warkworth and Transmission Gully projects are PPPs and that means Waka Kotahi are now going to have to actually start paying for them and that means hundreds of millions annually will be taken out of our transport budgets for the next 25 years.
New and Ongoing Projects
There are lots of projects we’ll hear about during the year, some of the key ones.
Last year, Transport Minister Michael Wood said a decision would be made about light rail before the end of the year. Perhaps this year we will finally get one. My guess is the government will stick to the worst of both worlds recommendation and choose the tunnelled light rail option but possibly look to review the amount of tunnelling included. Regardless of what option is chosen, given how much work will still be needed on design and consenting, I wouldn’t be expecting any work to actually start on the project this year.
I also think the work on light rail could lead to more being done on ……..
A Harbour Crossing
The idea of an Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing has been on the discussion board for decades and every few years Waka Kotahi and it’s predecessors shell out huge amounts of cash to consultants for another study. But I think we might finally make some progress on it this year due to light rail being intended to eventually reach the North Shore – the light rail team will need to know how and where the crossing will be.
In recent years we’ve started to see the project shift from a motorway project to a multi-modal one but with the non-roading aspects happening first. I suspect we could eventually see this shifting to being a public transport and active mode only project but to get there a good focus will be needed on understanding what outcomes we should actually be trying achieve with it.
City Rail Link and rail network
Assuming nothing goes wrong, by the end of 2022 we should see the completion of the second tunnel as well as a lot of other progress around the project. I also suspect we may hear about another increase in cost of the project driven primarily by disruption as a result of COVID and the current worldwide pressure on supply chains and staff.
Elsewhere on the rail network we will continue to see progress on the third main, electrification to Pukekohe and maybe a start on the new stations between south of Papakura. Getting the rail network up to standard in preparation for the CRL is also going to continue to be a feature of 2022.
Tied to the CRL works, Auckland Council should be ramping up their plans for the transformation of midtown, including the Victoria St Linear Park and Wellesley St bus improvements as well as other projects.
This year should finally see work start on the first route in Auckland Transport’s connected communities programme. upgrading Gt North Rd between Grey Lynn and Karangahape Rd.
Likely fairly soon we should also start to hear more about their plans for New North Rd.
I’m not sure if we’ll hear about any other routes but AT really need to find a way to start delivering this programme faster.
Emissions Reduction Plan
The final version of the government’s Emission Reduction Plan is due to be published by the end of May and we’ll be looking to see how it differs from the draft version released in October. The ERP has the potential to be quite significant for transport in NZ as the draft includes the target of reducing the total amount of driving we do as a country in light vehicles by 20%.
It’s worth noting that the 20% reduction is about half of what the Ministry of Transport recommended. Even so, a lot of the burden to achieving it is likely to fall on our biggest cities and in those it may require us to achieve reductions in car travel in the order of 40-60%. Achieving that will require a significant shift in thinking for our transport agencies.
After being investigated by parliament’s transport select committee last year, I suspect we’ll see some more progress on the idea of road pricing this year but I’m not confident we’ll see any actual decisions made
Mayor’s Climate Package
Last month Mayor Phil Goff released his proposed budget for the 2022/23 financial year and it included a headline feature of a $1 billion climate action package funded via a targeted rate. The money is to go towards some very positive changes, including
- A big increase in bus services
- 6-7 new low emissions ferries as well as charging infrastructure
- Additional cycleways and footpath improvements
- A tree planting programme
Like any other time there is a proposal to increase rates I’m sure there will be some opposition to it. There’s also the question of whether AT will actually be able to deliver the transport aspects, especially the cycleways.
This year there are a number of big changes coming or likely to the leadership of our transport and planning systems.
Local Body Elections
In October we have our next local body elections and all the rumours suggest that Mayor Phil Goff might not stand again. If that happens it will make for an interesting mayoral election. There are already a few names that have been floating around as potential candidates and I’m sure we’ll hear more in the coming months. We’ll certainly look to discuss this in more detail in future posts but I certainly hope we get a Mayor who is able to articulate a vision for Auckland.
Of course it’s not just a good mayor we need but they will need the support of some good councillors and local boards too.
Auckland Transport CEO
Just before Christmas, AT’s current CEO Shane Ellison resigned. We’re hopeful his successor will finally start to wrangle the organisation in to shape and focus on delivering good urban outcomes in order to achieve the government’s ERP targets.
Waka Kotahi Chair
Waka Kotahi’s current chair, Sir Brian Roche, is also stepping down this year. Like AT, Waka Kotahi has a long way to go to become the kind of transport agency we need in the 21st century and so hopefully his replacement will be able to steer them towards that rather than just a continuation of business as usual.
Unitary Plan changes
By August the council will have notify the changes to the Unitary Plan in order to comply with the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development and Medium Density Residential Standards. The big unknown is how much the council will look to use loopholes to avoid making changes to suburbs in the central and western isthmus.
The year should also see progress on the government’s plan to overhaul the Resource Management Act.
2021 saw record after record set for housing consents in Auckland. Will 2022 be the year that stops?
There will be many more things that happen throughout the year. What are you most looking forward to or think should be on the list?