Pretty much anyone who has driven along State Highway 16 in recent times would have noticed the massive amount of construction going on with almost half of the entire motorway affected by works. Once the St Lukes interchange upgrade gets under way soon then I believe every single trip along the motorway will be affected by works in some way.
The works are made up of a number of separate individual projects that all form part of the Western Ring Route. They include the St Lukes Interchange, the Waterview Connection, the causeway upgrade, the Te Atatu Interchange upgrade and the Lincoln Rd interchange. Most of these have only really visibly got under way over the last year or so however the last of those, the $100 million Lincoln Rd Interchange is has been going on for some time, starting in late 2010. That’s about 3½ years ago.
There has definitely been progress and we now have a massively oversized interchange that has been completed (I don’t have any photos sorry but you should really see the westbound off-ramp which is up to four lanes wide). As a side note, I understand one of the reasons the interchange is so big is that the former Waitakere City Council weren’t clear on their land use planning for Lincoln Rd (which is a disaster) so the interchange was basically designed to be as big as possible to cater for potentially massive growth. While most of the interchange itself has been completed, the work seems to be primarily focused on widening the motorway either side of it including the Henderson Creek and Huruhuru Creek bridges. Once those have been completed the motorway on either side will be three lanes each way plus there will be bus shoulder lanes.
Overall the NZTA say the project isn’t due to be completed until 2015 but here’s the thing, that’s quite different to what was said when they started the project. Back in 2010 they said in a FAQ with the press release.
Q: How long will it take?
A: Construction will begin imminently and will be completed by 2013.
So that suggests the project is running two years late. For what was meant to be approximately a three year project that’s quite a long time. That would also make the interchange project an almost 5 year ordeal and one of our longest motorway construction projects in history. So here is some information on just how long other massive projects have taken in recent times.
|Central Motorway Junction upgrade||Oct-02||Dec-06||4 years 2 months||$209 million|
|SH20 Mt Roskill Exenstion||Aug-05||May-09||3 years 9 months||$186 million|
|SH20 Manukau Harbour Bridge duplication||Apr-08||Aug-10||2 years 4 months||$230 million|
|SH20-1 extension to Manukau||Jun-06||Jan-11||4 years 7 months||$220 million|
|Greenhithe Deviation||Sep-03||Dec-07||4 years 3 months||$110 million|
|Upper Harbour Bridge Duplication||Feb-03||Dec-06||3 years 10 months||$35 million|
|Hobsonville Deviation||Oct-08||Aug-11||2 years 10 months||$220 million|
|Victoria Park Tunnel||Nov-09||Mar-12||2 years 4 months||$340 million|
|Newmarket Viaduct||Jun-09||Mar-13||3 years 9 months||$244 million|
There are some very challenging projects on this list.
Now there could be some legitimate reason why it’s taking longer. Perhaps the NZTA deliberately decided to slow down the project so that it wasn’t completed so far in advance of projects like the Te Atatu interchange that it caused its own problems i.e. widening the motorway to three lanes could have been done but until the Te Atatu interchange is completed those three lanes would have just had to merge down to two anyway. Still there are some potentially good reasons for them to have finished earlier, in this case the extra lanes created could have been used as bus lanes in the interim helping to make up for delays caused by the closure of bus lanes elsewhere on the route.