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Sod Turning Day: Eastern Path and Southern Motorway

It’s sod turning day with two major projects officially kicking off.

Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path

The most interesting of these is the start of stage 1 of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path. When fully finished the path is bound to become one of the most iconic walking and cycling routes in Auckland – although it is going to have some stiff competition from the likes of Skypath and Seapath, The Westhaven Promenade and the Nelson St off-ramp.

Eastern Path Section 4

Construction of one Auckland’s biggest ever cycle projects is starting on Wednesday and will be marked by a sod-turning ceremony attended by the Minister of Transport and Mayor of Auckland.

The Glen Innes to Tamaki shared path is a 7.3km path for walking and cycling that starts in Merton Rd and follows the eastern rail line to Tamaki Drive at Hobson Bay. It will create one of the most scenic bike rides in Auckland and make walking and cycling into the city easier and more convenient for people living in communities throughout the inner eastern suburbs.

Following the eastern rail line, the shared path goes across Orakei Basin and comes out at Tamaki Dr where future cycle projects are planned.

The project will be constructed in four stages. It will completed in late 2018 with the first stage from Merton Rd to St Johns Rd set to open in late 2016.

After short speeches there will be a sod-turning ceremony. In addition to Minister Simon Bridges and Mayor Len Brown, the project team from NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport will be in attendance.

 

Below is the approximate timing of each of the four stages.

  • Section 1: Merton Road to St Johns Road – Late 2015 – late 2016.
  • Section 3: Orakei Basin boardwalk – Mid 2016 – mid 2017.
  • Section 2: St Johns Road to Orakei Basin – Late 2016 – late 2017.
  • Section 4: Orakei Basin to Tamaki Drive – Late 2017 – late 2018.

Sections of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path 1

 

The herald has reported that in total is meant to cost around $40 million to construct and AT say it has the following features:

  • The path will be around four metres wide and constructed mostly in concrete. Timber boardwalks will be used for short water crossings such as Orakei Basin and concrete for longer structures such as the proposed Hobson Bay crossing. The path will be safe and convenient for use by people on foot or on bike.
  • Good lighting will extend hours of access, particularly during winter months.
  • The route’s geography is hilly in places, but the design of the path will keep gradients as low as possible.
  • The path design will link into local communities and the project will identify future links that could be built at a later date.
  • The path will connect communities with public transport along the route.

Other than above AT haven’t said much about improving local access which I think will be critical to getting the most out of the route. Unsurprisingly this was the biggest concern of those that submitted during consultation last year with 56.8% of submitters raising Insufficient access points / Feeder routes / Poor connectivity / Tamaki Drive shared path poor quality as something they disliked about the project. The next highest dislike was concerns about it being a shared path which was raised by 15.8% of submitters.

In the past I’ve seen a number of comments questioning the priority this project has been given. As I understand things the key reason this is happening now is that the path is using the designation originally created for the cancelled Eastern Motorway. That designation will lapse soon so it makes sense to get this done before that happens. I’ve also heard it suggested that the NZTA want to free up land they own around Glen Innes now it won’t be needed for a motorway.

Southern Motorway Works

Today Simon Bridges is also kicking off the $267 million project to widen the southern motorway between Manukau and Papakura as well as upgrade the Takanini interchange. There are some aspects of this project I do think will be valuable, such as improving the Takanini Interchange which I understand is a common location for crashes however I’m not convinced the entire project is critical at this time. Like the Glen Innes Shared Path this project is being done in four stages and is due to be complete around late 2018. The four stages are shown below.

Southern Corridor Stages

From the look of things some parts of this section of motorway haven’t been touched since it was first built. Here’s a shot of the Takanini Interchange and motorway to Papakura under construction from the early 1960’s

Southern Corridor History

 

52 comments to Sod Turning Day: Eastern Path and Southern Motorway

  • Waspman

    The Takanini on ramp north bound is close to the most dangerous on our vast motorway network, so sorting that out is no bad thing. Having said that it’s reassuring to know there is always hundreds of millions to throw around on more motorway projects, a living black hole to taxpayers dollars.

  • Stuart Donovan

    The Eastern Path is one of those “wow” projects that makes you appreciate how Auckland could be an amazing city for cycling. Yes it’s hilly in places, but it’s generally damn beautiful, which makes the effort worthwhile …

    Ta NZTA/AT

    • TheBigWheel

      True: large parts of the route are absolutely stunning.. anyone lucky enough to be able to commute on it will have a twice daily world class cycling experience.. connecting on to Beach Road / Quay Street etc in the CBD.

      Also true: this needs local connections along the route and at the GI end to really make it a game changer. Want this to happen? Tell ’em you want it: AT, NZTA, AC, the OLB and M-TLB..

      • Max

        As occasionally does happen, the Orakei Local Board is fully aligned with Cycle Action on this – more local accesses are needed. Sadly, it’s proving to be a real bugger, because planners in decades back (possibly as much as half a hundred years or more) simply provided almost no actual street connections onto the rail corridor. For big sections especially in Stage 1 and 2 access is nearly impossible without buying private properties because there aren’t even paper roads. Makes you want to go back in time and grab their lapels and go “What the hell were you (not) thinking, you city planners???”

        • Nick

          But why would you need street connections onto a rail corridor? All those years ago they wouldn’t have considered having a cyclepath along there at some point in the future, just like we’re not building our cities to incorporate that big new thing that’s going to happen in 100 years that we haven’t thought of yet.

          • Max

            Why would you want access onto a rail corridor? Because pretty much every other country also tends to have paths or roads running alongside the rail line. Because it’s foolish to literally have NO side accesses for stupendous distances. What if we had decided on a new rail station? What if we weren’t building a path along, but only wanted a route across – a ped or cycle bridge? Same problem. “Blocking it off” by selling all the land for private houses and business properties created a massive, unnecessary added barrier and severance on top of the initial rail line severance.

            I am not asking our past planners to have added a laneways grid every couple houses. But have a look at stage 1 and 2. Those southern blocks have literally no public access towards the rail corridor for ~1.5km and then for 1.5km more again. For me that is a clear planning fail – and they lived in a time when walking and cycling actually played a bigger role than it has in the last 1-2 decades.

          • There appears to be pedestrian rights of way at the end of Mamaku Cres, andalong the east side of Purawera Cemetery (at least)

          • Max

            Correct – but east of the cemetery, there’s no obvious access all the way to Glen Innes (~3km) except for St Johns Road. It looks slightly better on north side, but somewhat complicated by the creek in between.

    • JimboJones

      But is this project for transport purposes or leisure purposes? I suspect it is the latter.

      • It is a separated path all the way from a large suburb (that is planned to have a big increase in population through intensification) into the largest single employment centre in the city. How could it not be for commuting and transport?

        No doubt it will be popular with leisure riders as well but no doubt it will become a busy commuting route.

  • Alex Burgess

    The Takanini interchange is horrific, especially getting on northbound. Even with nothing in front of me and my foot hard down, I’m merging into motorway traffic at just 80km/h, even though a new lane starts just after the bridge. Hopefully the bridge is widened and the onramp becomes its own lane.

    • The on ramp will shift to the other side of Gt South Rd turning the interchange into a diamond

      • Bruce

        It is needed as others have mentioned for safety.
        The extra Southbound lane from Manukau to Papakura is also needed as this road is a parking lot for large periods of the day causing blockages all the way back to Ellerslie and on SH18. Yes it will probably induce some more traffic but in this case the benefits outweigh this in this rapidly growing area.

      • Ted F

        When you look at the phasing of the job it is still a long way away. Guess we need to get out of the city on the weekend more quickly and safely than we need to merge from Gt Sth road to the inbound traffic.

        I don’t recall that picture of the Motorway developement and am surprised how clear the Pahurehure inlet is.

    • Ted F

      Cycling from Takanini to Manurewa is not very nice. The east side footpath is not very well maintained nor is it wide enough even for pedestrians let alone pedestrians with a pushchair or pram. I would like some suggestions as to how to improve it.

  • Roger W

    If you look here: https://www.google.co.nz/maps/place/Spartan+Rd,+Takanini+2105/@-37.0351902,174.9139302,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x6d0d5294450a86a3:0x1eb227c278f30f3c

    I’ve seen it suggested that when they do this, they close the path onto Spartan Road under the off-ramp, and move it down to Rangi Ave. Then they can close the level crossing at Spartan.

    In the process they could take the opportunity for Grade separation, and maybe even make a point near there a new station to replace Te Mahia and Takanini.

    • Ted F

      That proposal does not seem very convenient, guess I need an electric Bike.

      I’m 79 now and I wonder if there will be any change to the pedestrian cycle passage along the Great South Road through this area before I’m beyond using it?

      Combining the Tak and Mahia Stations in this area does not seem very user friendly i wonder where the present passenger source is for the existing stations?

  • The massive motorway widening projects on all three spokes centred on the CMJ is a huge experiment that seems likely to end in tears. By accident or design the central sections of Auckland’s m’way – the only properly supported regional transport network – has always been surrounded by ration points; tight squeezes that filter the rate that vehicles can be added to core of the network. Mt Wellington on SH1 south, the causeway on SH16, and the bridge approaches on the Shore. Once all these works are done only Mt Wellington will remain. And because of all this funnelling of traffic to this short two lane section, it’s not going to be pretty there, and no doubt it will get expensively supersized too..

    The CMJ is going to get it from all sides, but particularly from the west, as the new supply from SH20 at Waterview plus the irresponsible SH16 widening without also building a Rapid Transit release valve [busway] means that any waves of traffic will now arrive suddenly causing clotting events to the massive frustration of users. I have only a vague interest in the physics of traffic but I have always been told that these ration points were intentional, as a rationed flow produces a more regular and less dysfunctional and therefore higher capacity use of the road? Control over chaos.

    Is this no longer held to be the case? Has NZTA and MoT researched and studied this at length and changed policy? Or [more likely] NZTA is just bowing to both the near endless supply of money under this government for motorways and the whims of ministers? Is this just ad hoc and opportunism or can we have more faith in these institutions?

    • Waspman

      It is utterly astounding and infuriating that the massive spend up on the North Western motorway never included dedicated PT lanes or a railway, merely shoulders and as anyone who uses the motorways knows where do break downs and crashes end up?. What a perfect time to install either or both but no, it doesn’t suit their brain-dead ideology. It is criminal how stupid this government are with taxpayer money!

    • That’s been the huge waste of Waterview/Western Ring Route – a supposed “bypass” that will just make Spaghetti Junction worse. And NZTA certainly don’t seem to be planning to treat it as a bypass anyway. It’s not going to be signposted as SH1, it’s still going to have ramp lights, etc. Heckuva job, guys.

  • George D

    $270m.

    It would be useful if we added up all the spending on the Southern Motorway since 2000 into a single figure. I suspect it would come to at least $2b.

    • Don’t think it would be close to that. The world I can think of are widening at Highbrook and current works at Ellerslie which are about $30m.

      Newmarket viaduct was a renewals project and $244. CMJ want really about the southern. Works at Manukau are part of WRR.

  • Bryce P

    I foresee pedestrian vs bike troubles.

    • Max

      You always do. These days you spend more time talking about it than car vs bike troubles. The fact that you are *right* that such issues come with usage growth, and with shared paths, doesn’t make it any easier to convince decisionmakers to build two paths next to each other at one go, at this time of NZ’s transport planning history. Especially on a route which will take many years to build up to crowded levels we are already getting on the more urban parts of the NW Cycleway.

      Even nowadays in Germany most bike paths connecting villages and outer parts of town with the more core parts of town are shared paths. Still manages to get a German-wide 10% bike mode share and much higher levels in the more densely populated parts. That’s where I feel we need to be working and advocating most for separated (from peds too) infra. The Panmure-Pakurangas, the City Centre areas, Ian McKinnon Drive etc…

      • Bryce P

        More time than car vs bikes? Could that be because we’re building lots of shared paths and stuff all segregated or traffic calmed facilities? I’ve been very vocal about car vs bike issues. To no avail. And Germany is NOT the go to country for bike infrastructure. I know my ideas of what we need don’t correlate with many here or at CAA (and certainly not at AT!).

        • Bryce P

          Sorry for raising potential issues. Suitably scolded. I’ll get back in my box and leave it to the professionals.

          • Max

            Hey, if you can tell me when you disagree with me – and you do so quite often – I can do same to you. Adults, both of us.

            I could ignore you, and sometimes I try to – but I respect your views and try to engage instead.

            Lastly, I am questioning your emphasis (i.e. what priorities we should focus on etc), not your statements.

          • Bryce P

            My emphasis is on all modes, not just cycling. In this case, it doesn’t go on-road so the point was about potential ped vs bike issues. We can ignore the messages from pedestrians or embrace the issues they raise. I am often hearing of complaints on NW. Putting peds and cyclists together on fast routes (especially on the downhill bits) creates a ped vs cyclist issue that redirects from the bike/ped vs car issue. I expect this path will rapidly grow as a sports rider route.

          • The problem with relating experiences from existing facilities is that generally they don’t have adequate width (typically only 2-3m wide), and often poor sightlines to boot, so of course they have conflicts when busy. This new route is going to be a 4m-wide facility – we have little experience of how well that will work. But I’d wager it will be a LOT better than the typical current situation.

            The same concerns were raised in Christchurch when the new 4m-wide South Hagley Park pathway was put in. Now I encounter conflicts and holdups most days riding on the various crappy paths through Hagley Park. But that’s mainly because few of them are more than 2m wide. Since the new 4m-wide path has opened, I haven’t encountered any such problems along its length. If the demand grows considerably in the future, I’m open to reconsidering provision of separate facilities in due course – but it’s not needed now (and I doubt that the politicians would have wanted to spend any more money on it right now either…).

          • Bryce P

            Thanks Glen. The issue, as I see it anyway, is that once $30M has been spent, there is unlikely to be any political will to spend even more in the moderate term future. The corridor is wide enough (for a 4 lane motorway) so why not just do it once, now. If the project is seen as so important that $30M is a good spend, why not $35M or $40M?

            Oh, and while you’re here, the Don Buck Rd project is awful. 🙂

          • Sailor Boy

            It’s a trade off though Bryce, because of the current political climate it’s this or nothing. By all means change the political climate, but in the meantime I want to get from A to B without dying.

  • What is it with the “Berlin Walls” that appear to accompany recent Shared path developments, I could sort f understand them in regard to the CMJ, but what is hades is the need to have what appears to be a 2m+ fence between this path and the water,

    • Max

      It’s an artist impression for a section which hasn’t even had detailed design yet. So wouldn’t get too fussed about it – I understand Stage 1 has 1.4m high fences, and only where there’s steep drops etc…

      • Don M

        And it’s a strange artists impression… The boats shown sailing to the left of the rail/cycleway have not got much room to sail in as there is the Tamaki drive bridge between them and the sea!

  • At what point do people need to start pushing for future proofing for a heavy rail capable connection across the Southern Motorway in Manukau? It shouldn’t matter if its not used for years, such a connection can always be used as a pedestrian/cycle crossing in the interim – but as the Southern Motorway gets fatter, I imagine the cost of getting rail across there can only increase.

  • Greg

    I saw a suggestion that the cycle path should be built in the opposite direction, being much more immediately useful to connect to Tamaki Drive, and then extending the catchment. Certainly seems like Stages 1 and 2 will not get very much use until Stage 4 is built – Stage 3 is already there in a smaller form, but doesn’t really take you anywhere useful.

    • Max

      Stage 4 however is also likely to be the most costly – and as Matt noted, the impetus for this is likely also in big part that NZTA selling off the land / removing the designation, but putting something in place before they leave (better than an Eastern Motorway) good on them.

      Also, not everything – despite what the critics say – about this project is about trips to the CBD. What about trips between local suburbs, to local sportsfields, recreational trips to the bush, St John area people travelling to the Glen Innes Town Centre etc… – in the long run, these will easily eclipse use numbers compared to the hard-out 20+ km riders to the City Centre, I think.

  • JimboJones

    Why start by building a single gold plated project (that isn’t really that practical due to gradients) for a single area when for $40 million they could make cycling a lot better for most of Auckland? Think of all the green paint, traffic light improvements, etc they could do for $40 million.
    I use the south western motorway cycleway every day, but it feels like a token gift to leisure cyclists rather than a real alternative to driving. They could have achieved something much better for much less by removing car parking from one lane of Mt Albert Road and painting it green.
    If they had a bigger budget (and if I was in charge they would) then I would say go for it, but with a limited budget why spend so much on one cycleway (especially to an area that already has great PT)

    • This funding is coming (in part) from the Urban Cycleways Fund, While there are a few “misc/local cycle works” projects in the UCF mix, generally they were looking for specific well-defined stand-alone projects from A to B. In terms of project management, it’s a lot easier to guarantee completion (and use of funds) on a single project than a lot of rats & mice (remembering that all UCF funds have to be spent by mid-2018). I agree that we could achieve a lot in most places by numerous small “quick wins” projects (and I hope that most places consider budgeting a small war chest for these types of works), but it was not likely that the UCF was going to fund many things in that category – remember, politicians generally want more significant things to cut ribbons on.

  • KLK

    This one + skypath, seapath, the high-line…..Auckland is going to be a stunning city to cycle in.

  • Mr Plod

    Again NZTA are scheduling a motorway project in a less safe way.
    Issue one is that the Takanini northbound on-ramp has real safety issues and fixing that will provide the greatest immediate benefit to the greatest number of users. So what do they do? Make it the last phase of the project.
    Issue two. To minimise the duration of disruption to road users and risk to their own workers they should stage a project so that it runs in the opposite direction to the traffic flow. So work on south bound lanes should start at the southern most points and move north. This allows for an ever shortening workzone that clears traffic quickest rather than a static workzone length for the duration of the project.
    Why NZTA can’t get their heads around these simple ideas I cannot fathom. I can only think they have higher priorities than their workers’ and travellers’ safety.
    When I say again, it is with reference to the Lincoln Rd project which has been ‘finished’ without completing the safety modifications to the west bound on-ramp and the on-going phasing shambles of the entire NW upgrade.

  • Safety of Takanini interchange is a good way to sugarcoat a widening project. This widening project was supposed to be completed about 4 years ago, but that allocated funding was given to Christchurch instead.

    This project is extremely important for the Western Ring Route. When the SH20 extension at Manukau opened, the congestion was so severe that they had to install the ramp signals on all three lanes and change the lane markings.

    The section between Papakura and Takanini moves well, but moves slowly outside of peak times. It is a very necessary project.

  • Watto

    I see the motorway widening as an essential fix to the southern motorway but struggle to understand why only one lane is being added each way?

    Surely in 10 or 15 years 4 or 5 lanes each way will be required; do the work now it will be cheaper and more efficient, even if it means purchasing residential land alonside the motorway.

    • Ted F

      Could it be that at last they are recognizing the affects of the lower Carbon future and it’s reduction in individual cars on the motorway system?
      To date this does not seem to be entering the NZTA thinking at all!

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