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Government motorway package being fast-tracked

A paper to the Auckland Transport board shows just how easy it is for our existing transport plans to be changed to accommodate new motorway projects. It comes about due to the governments announcement that they were fast tracking a series of roading projects around Auckland. The issue is that the projects aren’t in the current Regional Land Transport Programme which sets out the projects that will be built over a three year period (2012-2015) and are technically not allowed to be funded our of the National Land Transport Fund. In other words without them being on the list, the NZTA are not allowed to pay for them and therefore build them.

But fear not as AT say:

Section 106 (2) of the Land Transport Management Act requires Auckland Transport to adopt a policy that determines significance in respect of variations made to the RLTP.

In deciding whether a proposed variation is significant, Auckland Transport will assess whether or not the proposed variation meets the following guideline:

“The inclusion of a construction phase for a new state highway project with a total activity or project cost greater than 10 per cent of the activity class New and Improved Infrastructure for State Highways in the RLTP”. (Ref: Regional Land Transport Programme, pg. 74).”

The 2012/15 RLTP includes total provision of $1.4 billion for the ‘New and Improved Infrastructure State Highways’ activity class. The elements of the new projects proposed for inclusion in the 2012-15 RLTP are listed in Table 1 above. Forecast 2012-15 expenditure for the individual projects does not exceed 10% of the total cost of the ‘New and Improved Infrastructure for State Highways’ activity class included in the 2012-15 RLTP, so are not considered significant under the ‘Significance Policy’ described in the 2012-15 RLTP.

This means that they can be included in the RLTP without the need for public consultation. Full public consultation on the remanding phases of the projects will be carried out in the course of developing the 2015/18 RLTP.

There’s always a loophole for motorways isn’t there.

The projects that are being added are below

(a). Northern Corridor:

1) SH1 Greville Road Interchange Upgrade
2) SH18 improvements between SH1 and Unsworth Drive
3) SH1 Upper Harbour Highway to Greville Road Northbound three laning
4) Northern Busway Extension (Constellation to Albany)
5) SH18 to SH1 Motorway-to-Motorway Connection

(b). Southern Corridor:

6) Southern Corridor Improvements, which includes:

• Takanini Northbound three laning to north of the rail overbridge
• Takanini to Papakura three laning – Northbound and Southbound
• SH20 to Hill Road Southbound four laning;
• Takanini Interchange Upgrade

(c). Airport Access Corridor

7) SH20A to Auckland Airport

While the table below shows how much these are expected to cost.

Govt Motorway Package costs

I imagine it would have been fairly embarrassing for the government if it had to go through some public consultation and the public rejected the projects.

I guess the only consolation is that the extension of the Northern busway to Albany is on the list.

50 comments to Government motorway package being fast-tracked

  • Matthew

    Can we fast track the next election please?

    • Waspman

      If you think your vote may change the woefully dated motorway madness of this government, think again. The information contained in this article and many like it appearing on this blog site is hard to find anywhere else.

      You may have noticed from the mainstream media in Auckland anyway namely the Herald (baring the odd exception), TV and especially radio, that objective analysis of this governments policies, much less criticism is almost unheard of. Indeed the opposite seems to happen and on radio the cheerleaders in talk back are endemic. Its all very friendly and docile and the honeymoon has never ended. Hence they ride high in the polls whilst the sheer stupidity of some of their policies largely go unnoticed by the public. Example, yesterday in the Herald the sale of Air NZ was deflected back on to Labour by Fran Sullivan alarmist headline and story.

      Add to this Colin Craig expects to be elected to parliament/government via the glaring loop hole in electoral laws aka Peter Dunne/John Banks type back route and Paula Bennett is somewhat more assured of reelection by her seat having a handy boundary rejig (remind me why we bother voting again when the outcome is so predetermined?) and its easy to see the sizable difficulty faced removing these guys from government.

      So until a solution for these issues are found its full steam ahead on the motorways front.

  • Christopher T

    So, are these motorway projects additional to those outlined in AT’s spectacularly mono-modal ITP, or are they previously identified projects that have just been brought forward? Can they be dropped should there be a – much desired – change of government next year?

  • George

    They can decide to spend $375 million, and it isn’t significant?

    They truly are a Uncontrolled Organisation, accountable to no-one.

  • grantb

    $250m for the buslane extension? That is about 4 km, which seems to make it extraordinary expensive per KM.

    I used to take the NEX from Albany, so saw first hand the bus getting snarled up over the Greville road off ramp, but there seems to be relatively little delays otherwise. There is a bus priority lane already from the northern motorway across Constellation to the bus station there, and spare land (the old landfill) on the Eastern side of the Northern motorway.

    I presume the big money must indicate that they are looking at bridging or tunneling most of the way?

    Found this: http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/01/12/northern-busway-extension-a-reality/

    But are there any details on why this is so expensive? Would think a cheaper/partial solution to get more immediate improvements would have been the way to go.

  • goody goody, lots of work coming up for us engineers…… sorting out SH1 around Albany is a long time coming.

  • Starnius

    So basically, $1.4 billion is not significant. Big words.

    They can just spend $350 of EVERY Kiwi’s tax dollars (including that of your kids) without even needing to go through any sham consultation. A real cost saver.

  • Starnius

    And this stuff doesn’t even include the East-West link motorway-fest.

  • Starnius

    By the way – what the heck is a “remanding phase” when noted in connection to our dear leader’s roads obsession?

  • donna

    Ye gods. So much for Auckland being the world’s most liveable city. Where’s Ludo Campbell-Reid when you need him?

    The total expenditure for the figures at the bottom end of the estimates comes to about $850 million. As an economist I am appalled at the the thoughtless squandering of resources these projects represent, and as a ratepayer I’m well and truly peeved at AT’s dismissive attitude to public consultation (yes, we in Mangere and Otahuhu are still waiting to be invited to a public meeting about the E-W link).

    And as an aside, isn’t the SH20A-Airport link supposed to be **cough cough** multi-modal? What proportion of NZTA’s funding will cover the rail, PT and cycling links?

    • PS1

      Agree. Well said Donna.

      • David B

        I could not agree more Donna … if you don’t live in the old Auckland City then you’re way off AT’s radar. For us on the Shore AT’s reputation is just appalling, for the same reasons you list of poor consultation, lack of fiscal responsibility and lack of desire to provide affordable and useful public transport options.

        • Simon C

          Agree that AT could improve substantially though David I think it’s a bit rich to say the NS doesn’t have useful PT options when you have the NE Busway!

          • Simon C

            Oh and of course the Hobsonville & Beachaven ferry service was introduced this year and the Birkenhead Ferry wharf was upgraded. You may not have personally benefitted from any of these or the busway but that doesn’t mean the area as a whole hasn’t.

          • David B

            Simon, it’s not just me. Take a look at the excellent new video on the CRL. It explains very well what a decent public transport system could look like, but it is obvious all the way through that the North Shore is not included. I was impressed with what I saw but I fear that it won’t be well received by many Shore ratepayers unless some commitment is made to improve the fairness of AT’s current public transport policies and the scope of their capital planning.

            For example I want to be able to move across ferries busses and trains easily but the monthly AT HOP card is prohibitively expensive for the ten minute trip across the harbour. That means using different cards and paying a small fortune for short trips. Folks in the former Auckland City don’t have this problem, even when they travel much further from the centre. Or I might want to get home at night after going to a concert in town, but because the ferries are unfunded there are massive gaps between services at night so I end up having to drive a car when I really shouldn’t need to.

            The thing is that these are easy things to fix – AT could choose today to make the HOP zones fair for North Shore residents and to fund all modes of transport more equally. Simple.

            Like many I am a strong advocate of public transport spending – it’s vital for any modern city – but I wish we could somehow get AT to recognise the need to support services across the whole of Auckland and not just the former Auckland City.

          • Sorry David, but did you miss the bit above about spending a quarter billion to extend the Northern Busway, a busway that is only six years old and already very high standard? That would leave the North shore with a six hundred million dollars busway, pretty good for an area that is only 17% of Auckland.

            If we extrapolate that across the region, for the Shore to get less than it’s fare share we would have needed to spend $3.5 billion on rapid transit on the rest of the city. So things might get squared up once the CRL is built, but until then the North Shore is getting it good in comparison to everywhere else.

            And its daft to say that the North Shore is not included in what a decent public transport network looks like, the Shore currently has the best rapid transit line we have!

            That ferry issue isn’t just for the North Shore, it’s exactly the same for West Auckland and East Auckland ferries. It’s a balls up yes, but a ferry balls up, not some sort of hating on the Shore.

            Sorry if I sound a little nasty but I’m North Shore born and raised, and I’m just sick of that sort of parochial moaning from my fellow shoreboys. You know I think it is some sort of complex, they seem to think that half of Auckland is north of the harbour and half south… and that the northern “half” is continually getting screwed. Well the news flash, five times more people live outside the Shore than in.

          • David B

            Nick, you’re missing my point a little and I just don’t get where you’re coming from with your tone.

            if you look at the monthly HOP card from Britomart it costs the same if you head East, West or South, but try to head North and the cost goes up steeply. There’s no denying that it’s unfair, and there’s nothing ‘parochial’ in asking for it to be made fair.

            There’s also nothing wrong with thinking that public transport funding should support all modes equally rather than being solely for bus/train users, so that service frequencies across the board can be improved. Affordability and frequency are a big part of a usable public transport network and they matter to public transport users in all of Auckland.

            Is Auckland Transport narrowly focussed on the former Auckland City? I think it might be, and as always I’m open to being proven wrong. The busway is excellent, but was not an Auckland Transport project (the stations were funded and built by North Shore City Council, and the busway itself was funded by LTNZ). In any case, to look for a broader focus in transport planning is all about being inclusive rather than parochial and I would suggest that your vitriol might be somewhat misplaced.

          • The tone was in regards to you moaning that ” if you don’t live in the old Auckland City then you’re way off AT’s radar. For us on the Shore AT’s reputation is just appalling…” in the comments section of a post that outlines a proposed $250-$290m additional investment in North Shore rapid transit.

            You are right that ” Folks in the former Auckland City don’t have this problem” because they don’t have any ferries whatsoever. Yes there is a contracting issue that leaves the main ferry routes as fully commercial routes beyond ATs control, but if you have a problem with that you need to direct it to the Beehive.

            Apart from the two main commerical routes, ferries are subsidised massively, far more than the non-commercial routes of the buses and trains. If you want to support all modes equally then you would be advocating funding cuts for ferries.

            The HOP monthly is an interim rollover of the existing regional bus zones. one each for north, west, south and central. Yes those are unfair for a lot of places, including the lower North Shore. However AT are aware of this and are currently working on the new HOP zones as per the discussion in the draft Regional Public Transport Plan.

            There are very few AT projects, even now, if you mean ones done entirely by AT. The best example of an actual AT project is the New Network, under which they have proposed adding seven new frequent transit routes to the North Shore, including increasing the Devonport ferry to fifteen minute headways all day seven days a week (do you realise how much of the public purse it will cost to double the devonport ferry frequency?).

            If you don’t like the vitriol then perhaps you should pull your head in and drop the conspiracy theory that AT is narrowly focussed on the former Auckland City. To be frank most of their attention is currently “narrowly focused” on the former Manukau City moe than anywhere else. New Otahuhu Interchange, New Manukau Interchange, New Panmure interchange and AMETI busway from Botany and Pakuranga, first of the rank for the New Network deployment, etc.

    • Max

      > a ratepayer I’m well and truly peeved at AT’s dismissive attitude to public consultation

      Well, note the part where they say “Section 106 (2) of the Land Transport Management Act requires Auckland Transport”

      So basically they are arguing that the government is forcing them to do this. Not a lawyer, and AT are not necessarily the most roads-averse organisation (dry chuckle), but with the government’s track record, I can well believe that there’s strong-arming going on here, as usual when the current government and transport is involved.

      • Simon C

        Totally agree that central govt has AT under a lot of pressure to implement this and that a less roads-focused govt would see AT not heading down this road (sorry for the pun!)

      • donna

        I understand that AT are under enormous pressure to shunt this and the E-W link through regardless of their merits, but that does not forgive their cavalier attitude to public consultation with those affected by these projects.

  • Jennifer Ward

    I’d like to see the Government rethink its refusal to stump up with the $3.41 million reparation for the Pike River Mine dead instead of this petrol headed roading plan. It’s clear to see where their heartless priorities lie.

  • Exaucklanderinsydney

    Forgive my bad memory, but doesn’t the busway already go to Albany? Haven’t been to area for many years

  • Ari

    The way things are going, this government will unfortunately probably get a third term.

  • Am I the only one in here who wont mind Project 6 – The Southern Corridor (which is also the only project with a triple H profile) being fast tracked to soon as possible?

    • Frank E

      I fully support that as well.

      • Yay Frank

        Apart from the Northern Busway extension to Albany and the The Southern Corridor (Project 6 – The Southern Motorway from Papakura to Manukau Interchange) the rest of the projects listed I am sceptical about. What disappoints me though is that the Southern Corridor was a good project lugged with a majority of bad apples.

        The Takanini Interchange and 3 lane-ing from at least that interchange back towards Manukau in both directions (as a minimum) is sorely needed and fast. No amount of shovelling money into public or active transport will fix what is a inherently a very dangerous stretch of the Southern Motorway that clogs up far too easily. The consequences of that is the rat running down Redoubt and Mill Roads causing AT to be wanting a 4 lane expressway in that particular area upsetting residents.

        Between Manukau and Papakura the Southern Motorway acts more of a long distance link up for both inter city freight and people movement or if like me using that piece of motorway to access State Highway 20 and the Western Ring Route to get to West Auckland without needing to go through the Central Motorway junction.

        Anyone who has tried entering the Southern Motorway from Takanini to go city bound knows what a dog it is to do a 180 loop then try to get up to 100km on a 2 lane bridge often BEHIND a truck from the growing Takanini industrial area without the high risk another car or truck ramming up your backside coming from further south. Coming from north to Takanini the exit bay is no existent and running the risk of an accident traffic slows down heavily for people and freight trying to exit.

        And with the amount of growth under the Unitary Plan between Manukau and Pukekohe – both Green and Brownfield, and all residential, commercial AND industrial getting the section of motorway upgrade for at least safety sake is going to be needed. Not everything can be moved by rail nor bus and getting the Southern Corridor upgraded for safety reasons should take priority. Also it means we get AT to put off that cursed Redoubt/Mill Road corridor which was meant to be an “answer” to the current issues of that section of the Southern Motorway put off for a very very long time.

        That is why I have no problem fast tracking the Southern Corridor to ASAP

        • I am certainly more in favour of widening SH1 than turning parallel arterials into mini-me motorways. Let’s double down on that corridor and the RTN of the Southern Line and humanise the surrounding more local routes with slower speeds, lower vehicle capacity and make them fit for all modes. SH1 and the Rail corridor should be what they are designed for; the higher speed longer movements for both freight and people [private cars on SH1 and passengers on the rail line].

          So yes fix SH1 and electrify to Pukekohe [for now] and factor in the 3rd and 4th dedicated freight lines.

        • Sailor Boy

          The North bound bit from Constellation To Greville needs to be done for very similar reasons, really dangerous at the moment.

  • One thing mentioned today at the board meeting is that these changes don’t mean the projects will be funded but that they can just be considered for funding so there’s a possibility the Northern Busway is just there to pretend that there is some PT improvement and that it won’t actually get funded.

    • Steve D

      That seems pretty clear, since the others all have a “High” strategic fit, while the busway is just “Medium”.

      • Which is pathetic: all ‘Strategic Fit’ means is that Minister likes it. Which for this minister, as the last one, this means motorways, and motorways only for cars and trucks not for for buses [!]. How unscientific and completely childish. Just prejudice and crooked thinking.

        • Starnius

          I slightly disagree with that. I think it IS the minister’s (or more to the point, the government’s) DUTY to say “what they like” and set their policy accordingly. You can then vote for or against them accordingly.

          What pisses me off is that they don’t stop there. They also try to push it down everyone’s throat, right down and past Local Government level, by bullying and law-changing any decision they don’t like, plus they abuse the benefit-cost ratio calculations to make their projects seem so much more attractive (or simply disregard the results when they still don’t pan out) and lastly, they do all so under the claim that they are really pursuing a “balanced” approach, including white- and green-washing in their monstrous projects.

        • Steve D

          I also don’t have a problem with the concept of “strategic fit”. Transport funding is inherently political, not a technical matter to be handled by the experts.

          Unfortunately, the “strategy” at the moment is motorways and lots of them. Which has been this government’s strategy, but it’s also been, on a smaller scale, the policy of every government for decades. Remember Michael “buses need roads too” Cullen?

          You’ve got to be optimistic about something, so here’s hoping that when the Greens finally get into coalition for the first time, we see some real change.

          • I have an enormous problem with any analysis of what constitutes Strtegic Fit based on choosing one mode over another; not based on looking at connection problems and asking how best we can address them with all the tools available. This strategy is simply childish prejudice, and doing the thing they claim they aren’t: picking winners, and not doing the thing they claim they are: being fiscally responsible.

          • Steve D

            I have an enormous problem with any analysis of what constitutes Strtegic Fit based on choosing one mode over another

            I don’t have a problem with “picking winners” at all. I just have a problem with the particular mode they’ve picked, since it’s hideously expensive, polluting in many ways, dangerous, and particularly inadequate for anyone unable to (or unable to afford to) drive themselves around. I’d be happy with a strategy explicitly based around e.g. the sustainable transport hierarchy, which obviously is also about picking winning modes.

          • tuktuk

            Transport funding is a bit of both – number crunching/technical analysis and politics. There will always be tension between these two factors. The concept ‘strategic fit’ has a measure of validity. To give an example, Auckland’s commuter rail would have/should have died in the early 1990s if one was to take a purely analytical view. Instead, someone took a punt, the second hand Perth DMUs were purchased, and the rest, as they say is history.

            Clearly however, if billions of dollars are being justified on ‘strategic fit’, and the flimsiest of business cases, then the balance between number crunching/technical analysis and politics is completely out of kilter. I suspect that many right wing business commentators are privately at least, disturbed at the extent to which this government appears to be willing to put future NZers in debt to fund these roading projects. While there will be counter claims over public transport expenditure, the scale of debt for PT investment and operational expenses is an order of magnitude lower.

            In terms of building “street cred” for PT investment among the business community, there has been comment on the role of the mayor. However, considerable kudos should also go to the transport planners and analysts, who in their professional capacity, have done the hard yards in backing up the mayor’s pitch with the hard data to support the CRL. This is a perfect example of political vision and number crunching/technical analysis working in concert.

  • Ray C

    “They build bridges no one needs. Highways no one uses.
    They’re like a cancer. A cell that won’t stop growing.”

    – Jack Reacher transcript

  • […] seem to handle the fact that car traffic numbers are just dropping. FFS they have just let through some more motorway builds in Auckland that we probably don’t need. I guess it is one way for National MPs to get re-elected on the stupid vote. Why?  As Matt L at […]

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