Last night’s announcement that Auckland Transport and the NZTA have dropped the option of running a motorway through Mangere is great news and they should be commended for doing the right thing. However as usual it raises a lot of questions so I thought I would look into what impacts the announcement will have. Here it is again and I’ve emphasised some of of the statements I think deserve greater attention:
NORTH IS KEY FREIGHT PRIORITY FOR EAST-WEST
Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency say that providing better connections for freight in Auckland’s industrial hub of Onehunga/Penrose will release early benefits for East-West related investments.
Auckland Transport Key Agency Initiatives Group Manager, Rick Walden says, “the work we’ve done to date supports focussing our efforts to the north of Manukau Harbour. This is likely to solve a number of transport-related issues in the economically significant area of Auckland.
“Our focus on the north side is the key priority for our two organisations for at least the next decade and no new major road links will be progressed on the south side of the Manukau Harbour between SH1 and SH20 at this stage. This will be welcomed by communities in the South who have expressed concerns regarding the potential impacts of the East-West Link.”
Mr Walden says that Auckland is a growing city and in order to meet anticipated growth, future investment throughout the city – including South Auckland – will be required.
“We’ll continue to work closely and collaboratively with communities to find the best solutions to maximise our public transport infrastructure, as well as enhancements to existing roads before any new roads are considered.”
The Transport Agency’s Acting Auckland Highways Manager Steve Mutton adds that evidence highlights the economic importance of the Onehunga/Penrose area, and that improving access for freight will be an important component of improving and growing Auckland’s economy.
“This area is Auckland’s industrial heartland employing some 60,000 people and it continues to grow. Ensuring that freight has safe and efficient connections to and from the state highways is a key priority for us.
“Improvements being considered for the Onehunga/Penrose area provide better access for freight and commercial vehicles to the state highway network from this heavy industrial area – while keeping other road users safe.”
“Our studies show that many of the benefits can be realised without major roading investments to the south side of the Manukau Harbour.” says Mr Mutton.
Mr Mutton says that further work is required to determine the preferred option and any likely impacts.
“We’ll continue to work with our stakeholders and customers as these investigations progress to make sure we get the best possible solutions in place for local communities and Auckland as a whole,” he says
To me there are two things the comments immediately suggest that are both quite important.
- That they have heard the community’s wishes and are going for options that effectively don’t require difficult community consultation going forward.
- That the scope is being limited to improving connections between the state highways on the northern side
- The focus is now on using existing infrastructure where possible rather than massive new projects.
Pulling those three things together it suggests that straight away options 3 and 4 have been ruled out as both run through residential areas (note: for option 3 I am primarily talking about the part from SH1 to Highbrook).
That leaves us with just options 1 or 2 – or perhaps a variant of one of those. I’m picking a variation of option 2 which is shown below (the only difference between 1&2 is the section of road in black along the northern side of the Mangere Inlet). The reason for this is the red upgrade suggested from Gt South Rd to SH1 and up Carbine Rd would also require removing houses from the community which would nullify the suggestions that people have nothing to worry about any more. Perhaps instead they would take the road North-east from Gt South Rd to connect at the Mt Wellington interchange. As for improving connections to SH20, perhaps improvements to Neilson St are being considered which would fit in with the comment about enhancements to existing roads first. I’m also picking the black section of new road between the Highbrook interchange and Gt South Rd has also been deleted.
If what I have suggested does happen the outcome wouldn’t be too bad and something I think we could live with. It’s certainly far better than the crazy and massively expensive options 3&4.
I’m quite interested to see what public transport infrastructure they are going to suggest. The only things that spring to mind in the immediate area is grade separation of the Westfield rail junction and bus priority on Mt Wellington Highway – particularly around/through the Mt Wellington interchange.
There are still a few things that concern me though. The comment that the focus is on the north side of the harbour for the next decade suggests that in they could build something like option 2 then come back in the future and try to build option 4 again – although I imagine the community would be even stronger in opposition by then. I’m also wondering if we could just be seeing the classic road builders approach. Scale the projet back and build the easy section in the middle between the two motorways to create some demand then come back in a few years claiming there is a missing link that needs to be completed.
On the whole I think the announcement is positive. There is definitely a problem in the area that needs to be solved and in my opinion the focus on improving existing routes first is definitely the right one. As I mentioned the other day I do think everyone involved should really be considering tacking on the project for a third rail line between Papakura and Otahuhu as part of this project and AT should also be requiring that the Port of Tauranga implement a vehicle management system. I have a couple of other ideas that I will explore in the future about projects that could be included at the same time.