The Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative, generally known as “AMETI“, came out as something of a replacement of the failed “Eastern Motorway” idea. It’s a fairly complex series of projects designed to ease congestion and improve transport for a number of different modes in the Panmure/Mt Wellington/Pakuranga part of Auckland. As shown in the map below, there are a large number of projects which make up AMETI, and the timeline for completing them spreads over the next 20 or so years:
There has been a lot of talk about AMETI over the past few years, but really nothing much has happened at all in advancing this project. Well, at least until now. It seems as though the first section of AMETI, some upgrades around Panmure, is kicking into action – at least in its design stage. This seems to be the plan for Panmure:
Phase One: 2012-2014
Design for this phase will take place 2010-2012.
In Phase One of Panmure, a new street link will be created from Mt Wellington Highway to Fraser Road. This new street will remove around 25,000 vehicles (that are wanting to simply pass through) from the Panmure Roundabout each day.
The new road will extend along from William Harvey Place (where Big Save Furniture is currently), beside the railway line, under the Ellerslie Panmure Highway, and join back into a local road at Fraser Road.
In the short term, the new road will link through to William Harvey Place, however, in the longer-term, this will take a different route, passing near to Van Damme’s Lagoon and on towards Waipuna Road.
This new street development is an interim measure and comprises one lane in each direction. Capacity has been built into this project to widen this to two lanes in each direction at a later stage.
Phase Two: 2014-2016
Design for this phase will take place 2010-2014.
Once the new connection road between Mt Wellington Highway and Fraser Road is complete, taking traffic off the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway and Lagoon Drive, it will allow Rapid Transit Network (RTN) related capacity improvements to be made in the area. The Panmure RTN components form part of a region-wide high quality PT network connecting through to Pakuranga, Botany and eventually Manukau.
- On Lagoon Drive, one dedicated RTN bus and one traffic lane in either direction will be introduced (there are currently two general traffic lanes in either direction). Because traffic and buses will continue to travel across the Panmure Bridge, it is also expected that the “tidal flow” of traffic together with bus priority across the Panmure Bridge will be retained.
- On the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, there will be one RTN dedicated bus lane connecting to a bus-rail RTN interchange above Panmure station, and two general traffic lanes in each direction (there are currently three general traffic lanes in each direction).
- The Panmure Bridge will have an extended structure. It is anticipated that between 2012 and 2015 a new cycle and pedestrian structure will be designed and built adjacent to the south side of the Panmure Bridge. On the Manukau side of the bridge, the new cycle/pedestrian bridge will be designed to tie in with the cycleway and footpath adjacent to the Tamaki River (the Rotary Walkway), as well as the existing footpath down the Pakuranga Highway. It will also link into improved cycle facilities that are planned in the area. On the Auckland city side of the Panmure Bridge, the new structure will be designed to tie in with the existing footpath flowing onto Lagoon Drive, as well as the cycleway and facilities around the Panmure lagoon.
In the medium to long term, a bus and cycle route is proposed on Ti Rakau Drive. It is anticipated that the cycle/pedestrian bridge will become an important link for this future cycle route.
The Panmure Roundabout will be reconfigured to take into account the new road from the Mt Wellington Highway towards Glen Innes, and the new configurations of Ellerslie-Panmure Highway and Lagoon Drive. The design of the roundabout is not yet confirmed. Consultation will occur over the best solution closer to construction and once traffic flows are known. RTN bus priority through the reconfigured roundabout will be introduced.
There are a bunch of interesting artist impressions about what we might expect to see:
While I imagine there are certainly some advantages in eliminating (or altering) some of the nastier bottlenecks in this area, such as the Panmure roundabout, what I see in the pictures above just seems like a giant roadsfest, except for one image of an upgraded Panmure train station. The roads are generally proposed as high-speed multi-lane semi-highways, coming across as particularly unfriendly to pedestrians – not exactly what you would hope to see around Panmure, which is potentially a pretty major urban intensification node. Not really a place to be slamming through high-speed arterials I would have thought.
Sure, AMETI as a whole doesn’t ignore public transport completely – as we will see a number of new bus lanes and hopefully in the longer term something resembling a “Rapid Transit Network” (RTN) line linking through to southeast Auckland – although I would like to take this opportunity to remind the involved parties that basic bus lanes do not constitute an RTN. An RTN is either a railway line or a “Northern Busway” quality busway.
And ultimately, I think that’s my biggest problem with AMETI. It proposes spending a pretty massive amount of money ($1.3 billion I think) on upgrades to transport in this part of Auckland, but avoids/ignores the biggest cause of the problems faced by that area of the city at the moment – the complete and utter lack of anything resembling rapid transit to the east of Tamaki River. While certainly some aspects of AMETI make sense, completely avoiding/ignoring the main issue – how to provide that RTN from Panmure through to Pakuranga and beyond – is utterly stupid. It’s an excellent example of the good old saying “avoiding the elephant in the room”. What Auckland desperately needs is an RTN out to the southeast part of the city, and what we ideally need is for that RTN to be rail – so that it can link into the existing Eastern railway line and we don’t end up in the silly situation of either having to build a busway next to the existing railway line between Panmure and the CBD, or forcing thousands of bus commuters from the southeast to transfer onto a (probably already crowded) train at Panmure to make the last leg of their journey into the city. There really is no feasible alternative to the idea of a Howick/Botany railway line. The sooner we realise that, and get on with planning for this critical project, the sooner we’ll stop ignoring the elephant in the room and stop wasting money on road upgrades that will only tinker around the edges and not solve the real problem.