The Sarawia St level crossing has long been an issue for numerous reasons, these include:
- It’s the only road connection for Laxon Terrace and Youngs Lane
- It’s the busiest and most complex crossing in NZ in terms of rail movements thanks to the nearby Newmarket Junction and station
- The gradient of the line through the area causes additional problems and added complexity
- AT have said it will prevent higher rail frequencies due to the operational limitations.
To address the operational issues the crossing has to be closed but something needed to be done to provide the residents who rely on it access to and from their houses. Just over a year ago when AT started consulting with the local community and at the time they considered that the best option was resolve the access issue by building a new link through to neighbouring Furneaux Way. They were also considering a possible link through Newmarket Park and a bridge to Cowie St (a bridge to Sarawia St wasn’t possible due to the steep grades).
Auckland Transport announced last week that they have finally decided what they are going to do with the Sarawia St level crossing.
AT has completed its analysis and made a decision on how Laxon Terrace will be accessed once the Sarawia Street level crossing (known as the Newmarket level crossing) is closed.
We have selected a road-over-rail bridge solution from Cowie Street to Laxon Terrace. The Cowie Street Bridge option was chosen due to it:
- providing the safest access for all road users, compared to other options
- accommodating all modes of transport, including pedestrians and cyclists
- providing opportunities for improved connectivity to Newmarket Park and a planned cycling and walking route linking Parnell and Newmarket via the old Parnell rail tunnel
- having the least disruption due to the main work site being located on railway land, away from the majority of residential properties.
The Cowie Street Bridge option will see no change to Newmarket Park or Furneaux Way. The impact on Sarawia Street will be limited to closure of the current level crossing, effectively making it a no-exit street.
In making its decision, we have endeavoured to balance the concerns of local residents and the wider community (including Newmarket Park users and rail patrons).
Development of the Cowie Street Bridge design is expected to start in March, with project completion scheduled for the first half of 2015. We are committed to working closely with local residents throughout the design and construction processes.
This is an interesting decision as at $6 million it was the most expensive of the three options and performed worse than the other two options in an economic assessment (which all benefited strongly from travel time savings to rail users). I strongly suspect it was the favourite option for those on the street though. The cheapest option was $2.6 million so less than half of the cost. Is this a case of AT just going for the easiest option due to less objections from locals? I couldn’t get an answer out of AT as to whether this was considered a roading or PT project (I’m going to assume the latter).
Also interesting is that AT are actively talking about using the old Parnell rail tunnel for a walking/cycling route.
Here’s where the bridge will go.
The news of this crossing has also reminded me that AT were working on a plan for what to do with all of the level crossings across the region. That was meant to have come out last year. I wonder what’s happened to it?