There’s a wealth of interesting information in the documentation released with the City Rail Link notice of requirement notification last week. In this post I’m going to look at the extent of the proposed designation and any interesting elements to the designation that come up when looking at the aerials of its location.
For those not particularly familiar with the terminology being used, a designation is basically a legal tool to define land that will be required for the construction, maintenance or operation of a project like the CRL. A designation effectively overrides all existing controls of what can occur on a site so enables the construction of public works activities as well as placing a legal restriction on what can occur within that site (i.e. you need the permission of the agency placing the designation if you want to do anything on the land). It also potentially enables the compulsory acquisition of designated land through the Public Works Act. A notice of requirement is basically an application for a designation.
A set of aerials outlines the extent of designated land for CRL and therefore highlights some interesting aspects to the project. Let’s run through them starting at the Britomart end. The most obvious element of the designation (areas within the orange line) is that the Downtown Shopping Mall is completely included, while the tracks have been located to miss both Zurich House and the HSBC Building. I’m not sure whether this means Auckland Transport will end up buying the downtown shopping mall site outright or whether some deal will be done about its redevelopment, but it is clear from the documentation that the CRL tunnels are far too shallow at this point for them to be bored and therefore a ‘cut-and-cover’ construction methodology will be used (requiring the shopping mall’s demolition). I view the mall’s demolition as an opportunity as it’s a pretty ugly building in a prime location.
Moving further south towards Aotea Station it’s clear that the section of Albert Street between Customs Street and Victoria Street will need to be completely dug up to put the tunnel underneath the road – once again through a cut and cover methodology:Given the whole street is to be dug up, the opportunity here seems to be to put back something that’s a bit nicer than the current neglected streetscape that characterises Albert Street. Managing the traffic impacts of closing Albert Street, particularly the impacts on bus operations, will be quite challenging although thankfully by that stage North Shore buses will be using Wellesley Street with the 2016 bus network rolled out by the time construction of this section of CRL occurs.
Next stop (literally) Aotea Station, located under Albert Street between Wellesley and Victoria:A couple of slight surprises here, especially at the Victoria Street end. By including the shops on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets I think Auckland Transport is probably buying themselves a pretty ugly fight in relation to heritage/character issues. The other thing I’d like to see is the designation extended across the empty site between Albert and Elliott streets, at least in the form of a ‘strip’ to connect the station with the corner of Darby and Elliott streets, which seems the best way to link the station with Queen Street. Perhaps such a link may be possible when the carpark is redeveloped, but it’d be nice having the reassurance of the link being included in the designation. Another report gives a bit more information on the location of entrances and exits to Aotea Station, shown below:South of Aotea Station the designation is largely ‘sub-strata’, which I think means that the land is unaffected.Under Vincent Street the tunnel runs within the road reserve, but further along the rail tunnels split apart further from each other as we get close to Karangahape Road station:As you can see above there’s quite a lot of land off Beresford Street that’s proposed to be designated. I’m assuming that this is largely for the purpose of constructing K Road station and/or some sort of construction yard. Once the project is complete the designation will probably be pulled back to enable redevelopment of the land. I assume the historic church within the designation will be retained. Further along we have the other half of K Road station including quite a bit of extra land that is needed for a southern entrance to the station. I have highlighted the station entrances are indicated with red arrows:This is the area where the rail tunnels (the purple and white lines by the way in case you hadn’t guessed) pass underneath the motorway system. Even though the motorway itself is in a gully the rail tunnel will pass quite a few metres underneath the motorway (enough for a drilled tunnel to still be OK).
The tunnel then swerves under Symonds Street so that it can line up for Newton Station:Newton Station will be the deepest station on the CRL with proposed access by high capacity lift only (rather than escalators) to save on costs. I’ve shown the location of the entrance to Newton Station with a red arrow:From Newton station onwards the focus is on getting back to the surface and linking in with the existing Western Line – thankfully with both east and west facing connections. The tunnel starts to get shallow enough that cut and cover is once again required meaning that this is the part of the project which results in the greatest requirement for property acquisition:The area shaded light-blue above is the existing Western Line designation while the area bounded in yellow is what’s likely to need to be acquired for the project to proceed. Presumably after the tunnel has been “covered over” much of the land could be redeveloped (probably at higher densities than its current form) meaning that much of the property acquisition can really be seen as an investment.
The next map focuses on the east facing connection, linking towards Grafton Station – with probably the most notable matter here being the necessity of grade separating Normanby Road.And finally panning to the west where we have confirmation that the new designation (in yellow/orange) now stops short of the Dominion Road overbridge – confirming that the Inner West Interchange station has been removed from the proposed project in all possible ways.Going through the route in this level of detail really does highlight to me what a massive project the City Rail Link is and also how constructing it is going to be a very challenging engineering feat.
Over the next few posts I write about the CRL I’ll start to look at whether there are any ways in which the project could be further improved now that we know the details a bit more and also what some key submissions points to make would be.