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Transport for future urban growth

While debate rages on about allowing more housing within the existing urban area, the other side of the development coin is also being progressed with the council planning for over two Hamilton’s to added to our urban fringes in the North, Northwest and South. This is shown in the video below with both already approved special housing areas and the other future urban areas highlighted. All up AT say 110,000 dwellings and 50,000 jobs will be accommodated for in these new greenfield areas which is about one quarter of the growth expected in the region.

The growth is based on the Future Urban Land Supply Strategy which was adopted last year.

Future Urban Land Stategy

Providing all of the infrastructure needed to support these developments isn’t something that can be done quickly or cheaply. One of the key pieces of infrastructure to get right early will be transport so we’re not adding to the areas that we have to go back and retrofit at even greater expense decades later.

As such the Council, Auckland Transport and the NZTA want to start planning for what transport these future urban areas will need and over the next month the Council, Auckland Transport and the NZTA will be conducting consultation about it. They say they want a range of views and not just those who live in these areas now – after all with over 100,000 dwellings most people living in them will be moving into the area. Each of the three main areas will have two weeks of consultation during that time, the dates for each of them are below.

  • Southern Auckland consultation – 18 February to 3 March
  • Warkworth and Silverdale/Dairy Flat consultation – 25 February to 10 March
  • Northwest Auckland consultation – 3 to 17 March.

The consultation is at a high level looking at just the big pieces of transport infrastructure that might be needed to enable these developments to proceed. The consultation starts today and will be followed by a more detailed consultation on costs, routes and options in April. This work will also be feed in to the Auckland Transport Alignment Process currently under way between Auckland and the government. Until the exact options are sorted out we won’t know how much it will cost however it was suggested that just the major projects needed could reach $10 billion and that doesn’t include all of the smaller local and arterial roads that would be needed. If that figure turns out to be correct it would equate to around $91k per dwelling and that’s before all of the other road costs and the costs of other infrastructure (e.g. water, schools etc.).

The information below is just for the South Auckland consultation. The details for the other two will be released when those consultations start.

The map below is a bit more detailed version of the greenfield growth that is planned for South Auckland along with some of the key projects already underway. These new areas are predicted to have about 50,000 new dwellings, 120,000 people and 13,000 new jobs.

TFUG Committed projects South Auckland

They say the key transport issues are:

  • It is predicted that 80% of morning work trip destinations will be no further north than Manukau and the Airport
  • The scale of growth will mean there is a need for stronger north-south connections
  • Lack of east-west connections in the Takanini and Drury areas.

I personally think the suggestion that 80% will travel no further north than Manukau for work very wishful thinking.

Next is a list of potential projects over the whole area. The rail line is obviously already in place which is good but does need electrifying. For major roads, if you combine some of the suggestions there would be an extension of Mill Rd through to Drury and then potentially via a new State Highway all the way to Pukekohe, that’s essentially a parallel motorway or near motorway all the way to Manukau.

TFUG Potential Projects South Auckland

Looking a little closer at a few main areas.

Takanini

They list the key issues as

  • Safety of rail crossings
  • Connectivity to rail and State Highway 1
  • Providing north-south and east-west connections
  • Issues with ground stability a challenge to providing integrated transport and storm water solutions.

Some of the key options suggested are

  • Extend Mill Rd south to Drury
  • Upgrade the three routes to provide east-west connections along with grade separating them with the rail network. One of these, Rangi Rd, they suggest tying in with Mahia Rd on to the West of the motorway.
  • A new rail station at Tironui – There had been suggestions in the past of a new station at Walters Rd next to a commercial development – potentially as a replacement for Takanini but AT decided back in 2014 that the preferred option was one at Tironui

TFUG Transport Ideas Takanini

Drury & Opaheke

Moving south to Drury and Opaheke the issues listed are all about providing alternative routes and not stuffing up traffic travelling to/from the Waikato.

The key options suggested are:

  • Should there be one or more new North-South corridors.
  • Which of the two locations shown on the map would be best for a new train station serving these areas
  • Should the focus be on upgrading SH22 or a new state highway linked in with Mill Rd and SH22 becoming effectively a local road.
  • Should the widening of SH1 be carried on past Papakura to Drury. They ask “What is most important for these improvements? Focus on travel times, reliability, safety, access or other?”

TFUG Transport Ideas Drury-Opaheke

Pukekohe and Paerata

Lastly Pukekohe and Paerata where they say the key issues are:

  • Providing strong connections to Waikato
  • Managing increasing pressure on State Highway 22
  • Increasing capacity and efficiency of the passenger rail network
  • Improving access to this area without making long distance travel between Auckland and Waikato worse.

The key options suggested are:

  • How important is a station at Paerata
  • Does Pukekohe need an east-west bypass and an upgrade to the connection to SH1
  • Where should east-west grade separated crossings of the rail line at Paerata be.
  • As with above should the focus be on SH22 or a new SH corridor
  • Should rail or bus services be extended further past Pukekohe

TFUG Transport Ideas Pukekohe-Paerata

The growth areas of the South have a big advantage over those in the North and North west in that while it needs upgrading, the rail line already exists. With the amount of development planned and the number of services that would be needed I’m guessing it will be likely that we’ll need at least a third main though the area if not more and we’ll definitely need those done north of Papakura. That would allow more capacity for freight and at times faster services to Britomart (once the CRL frees up space on the network).

On the road side of things upgrades to SH22 and Pukekohe East Rd seem like they would be the most appropriate rather than building what would probably end being a new motorway from Drury to Pukekohe.

Submissions on these future transport options should now be open.

To me one of the things this process is highlighting is that for once we might get a true grasp on the cost of greenfield development. Given how expensive it is appearing to be I suspect that it could have long term planning implications for Auckland and other cities. I think it also raises a lot of equity and timing issues. The same level of investment needed to support these new greenfield areas would also likely go a very long way to addressing transport issues within the existing urban area. That would not only benefit new dwellings enabled by those improvements (if they’re allowed) but would also benefit existing residents who would have better/more options.

What do you think should be the priorities for transport in these new greenfield areas South Auckland.

82 comments to Transport for future urban growth

  • Mill Rd looks like it will creep up to being a second SH1. I can’t see this as a good thing; the barrier effects of two parallel highways through these communities would be twice as bad. Better to maximise SH1 and concentrate on east west distributors of it.

    Secure a rail corridor to the airport. Always been my view that this should have south facing connections only that eventually allows a service pattern south to city via airport, and/or Hamilton to Airport. Of course that becomes a lost cause if AT abandon the northern Mangere rail line for LRT.

    But most significantly, and topically, doesn’t this show just how expensive sprawl is? As Matt says $10 bil and that doesn’t include the 3 waters, or anything else. All to create what; more Flat Bushes, John Walker had better keep running, further south. And all the rates militants will be wanting to invest in a wall rather than any of this…

    • The new Redoubt-Mill Rd to SH1 interchange will create the same type of congestion that the current SH16 to SH1 interchange experiences in the PM peak. The new congestion will be heading back towards Papakura/Drury.

      Both interchanges combined in the same location will effectively choke the Southern motorway.

  • Chris Randal

    Walter’s Rd would make a lot more sense that Tironui with Addison and the commercial area with the Warehouse right there. There is also the new housing area on Defence land on the corner of Porchester/Walters

    The catchment for Tironui would be much lower.

  • alan j

    I don’t see the point of the Botany to Manukau connection.

    No one that lives in Botany ever wants to go to Manukau

  • Adam W

    How can the key options for Pukekohe not include Electrification? This is the number one activity which will absorb a fair number of the transport users from all this growth.
    Also an express service is really important.
    Imagine 30 to 35 minutes from Pukekohe to the city with stops at key stops like Othuhu & Newmarket – this service at peak times would be so popular and really reduce the numbers of cars on the road.
    I used to take a train from Hatfield into London, and the express service of 30 minutes was so popular compared to the 55 minute every stop service.
    Also there are a large number of people who take the train into the city currently, the 80% figure is rubbish. Can’t they access the current AT HOP data to see the number of users?
    There are a number of quick inexpensive wins for the South becuase of the rail line that don’t involve expensive roads.

  • Donald Neal

    I’m fascinated by the way the debate is being framed. This is “Transport for future urban growth”, not “the transport demands created by urban growth”. The difference is that there’s no explicit consideration given to the effect of that growth on transport links to the rest of the country. I can’t imagine NZTA looking at what roads to build around Hamilton, say, without mentioning the rest of New Zealand.

    Would the increased demands of short-haul passenger rail, for example, materially affect the wisdom of building a new long-haul rail line between Drury and Mercer? The expense would be colossal, but the savings in travel time and ruling grade between Te Rapa and Westfield could be major. Just say “National Significance” three times.

    And surely the first answer to be proposed anywhere else would be to build a motorway around the whole area?

    • Brendon Harre

      Donald there is a long history in planning circles that urban growth needs a network of infrastructure to grow into. Transport is one of the key infrastructures. The type of network put in place will affect the sort of housing that develops. For instance if there was no councils, no NZTA and no infrastructure NZ would get informal housing like South American barrios or Indian slums. If we only provide motorways and roads then newcomers will build stand alone housing. If public transport and cycleways are provided then people will want denser housing where they can make the most of these facilities.

      NZ has a history of doing growth on the cheap and then needing to pay excessive amounts to retro fix the problem at a later date.

      Watch and read Alain Bertaud to get an idea on the balance between planning and preferences.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H9gnHfUriA

      http://urbanizationproject.org/blog/housing-affordability-and-building-regulations-in-new-zealand#.VsTTRfJ97IU

      • David B

        100% agree with this. None of these new areas should proceed without say 80% of the new dwellings having nearby access to frequent public transport services.

        AT really needs to step up here, not just widen roads and force two more Hamilton’s worth of vehicles onto Auckland’s road network. It’s cheap and simple to design public transport into new housing areas at this early planning stage, and it should really be a mandatory part of the approval process for all of them.

  • Angus Robertson

    4 exurbs (3 car centric) = “smart growth” Auckland-style

    • Yes is dumb growth, but the ranting NIMBYs apparently can’t be faced down, so the centre remains locked up in stasis. Of course an even more car drenched dullness as these exurbaites will be incentivised to drive everywhere through massive road building and a minimum of alternatives.

  • Alex F

    With more urban zoning at Drury and Paerata I have always wondered if there is a case for shifting the current SH 22 to the Mill Road/Pukekohe East Road connection at Bombay exit 471. It’s a slightly faster route north (and much faster south I might add), has better connections to Pukekohe train station, and is an overall safer route as SH 22 was recently highlighted as one of the ten state highways with the highest personal risk

    • Grant

      Yes imagine SH22 becoming/is a real b#$@& for commuting in the morning as it stands. Mill Rd is my old high school bus route…pretty windy though from memory.

  • Grant

    It’s a no brainer I would think train stations at Paerata, Drury & even the Drury West (connecting the crossing the motorway issue somewhat). The suggestion only seems to be one for Drury area, why not slap one down now and plan around it while it’s cheaper. Electrification too of course…..and more mainlines further up the track as needed…

  • kelvin

    Did they thought of NEX style express busway, a transport interchange , and park and ride facility?

  • The key thing is of course to do what we didn’t in South East AKL, and still aren’t in Ham and Tau, and that’s plan full Rapid Transit Networks, and reserve the Right of Ways now, while they’re free and clear and cheap. There is no risk in this, if for whatever fanciful reason Rapid Transit isn’t required in the future, no matter, the RoWs will have other uses. But it’s a hugely expensive disaster to not reserve them now, we didn’t in Pakuranga because the future was certain to only ever be the car, said those in change, and now it’s jammed, unpleasant, and inefficient. And super expensive to retro-fit.

    This highlights a curious feature of auto-dependant sprawl which is that access to new areas always starts easy then declines as they fill. Unlike denser urban areas which get better and better and more and more travel options as the densify [or should, all being equal], not to mention more and more proximate amenity, as a function of intensity.

  • Matthew W

    Personally I think the most important thing is to allow for direct and efficient bus routes through the developments so a network effect can be obtained. If there is a need for additional rapid transit then sure set aside a corridor, but I am not convinced that Drury would need its own rapid transit line given the Southern Line proximity. Expensive highways are completely speculative and should not be built until we have road pricing in place to judge real demand.

    • Matthew clearly Drury is all but on the RTN, I am arguing for looking ahead 30/40/50 years for the whole city and reserving RoWs on the greenfield portions.

      And absolutely to bus and bike networks working off the spine of the southern line is the way forward for this area. And the roads must be planned to to optimise all modes, not simply the private vehicle.

    • Ricardo

      We already have road pricing – it’s called fuel tax, and registration. So every-time someone drives they pay. And that pool helps subsidise PT, welfare, etc. Simple. We need to find a way to tax cycling to recoup the costs of cycle ways. Australia is looking at cycle registration. That would be a good start. Level playing fields.

      • Alex F

        Roads in New Zealand are not funded 100% by fuel tax, RUC and vehicle registration and licencing. More than half of that is absorbed into road maintenance caused by continual surface damage caused by vehicle movements. Additionally roughly 48% of local roads in each district are funded by ratepayers – including those who do not drive. About 10% is made up of GST, again payable by everyone. Essentially a few kilometers of cycle ways makes a very minimal dent when compared to road maintenance costs and arguably do not have the same issues with maintenance considering a car does X10000 times the damage as a bicycle.

        The argument for cycling registration is a terrible one. This has been investigated by many countries and municipalities across the country and they all came to the same conclusion – far too expensive to implement and produces little benefits. Cyclists already pay for the roads as they are ratepayers and taxpayers (as they also make contributions to the ACC account). Australia are more than likely to come to the same conclusion. Arguable cycle ways doesn’t only benefit cyclists, it benefits motorists – including many of those who are too lazy or oblivious to drive defensively and share the road with all legal users.

      • Fuel taxes don’t come close to being road pricing. They also don’t do what you suggest. They can’t be used for welfare and they don’t even cover all road costs. 50% of local roads costs come from rates and a lot of the big road projects the government are currently progressing are being funded straight out of the general fund. Their also don’t come close to covering all the externalities the road system imposes as Peter wrote about recently
        http://transportblog.co.nz/2016/02/12/transport-externalities-in-auckland/

  • Kleefer

    I see a disturbing absence of the word ‘electrification’ in the potential improvements for the Southern Corridor…

  • Am I right in thinking that the Kumeu-Huapai SHA, and subsequent growth gets no transport infrastructure for quite some time?
    Boy, state highway 16 is going to be a carpark.

    • Matthew W

      Road pricing is the answer to that problem!

      • KLK

        I have no issue with road pricing per se, provided there is a quality RTN alternative so people can choose what they pay for.

        • Matthew W

          Is a 80-100km/hr free flowing highway/motorway with frequent buses good enough?

          • Is there such a thing?

          • Buses on motorways doesn’t necessarily work great – while they may go fast, the users don’t necessarily want to end up on the side of the motorway. Remember that a significant part of PT journey time consists of access and egress time.

            There are things that can be done to address this issue, like enabling transfers between trunk and local services, but many of those require infrastructure. For example, one challenge in running a frequent connective network in west/northwest Auckland is the lack of a bus interchange at the Te Atatu motorway interchange.

          • Yes buses on the motorway are a good idea only if that motorway is not clogged [own RoW- like the Northern Busway] and if the service is like an intercity one with one start and end point. Or, for intermediate stops, if there are real stations like the Northern Busway, and that these are well connected to high quality and frequency local distributor services and local amenity.

          • Matthew W

            Yes you are right there would need to be thought given to having proper stations and transfer points along the way.

          • So just like a train, only not on its own Right of Way…. given there’s a rail line right there, I don’t see why this would be a good option, unless of course there was an ideology about buses being better, because they use motorways, and you know, some types approve of motorways and not railways.

          • KLK

            Some people (and I am not saying you, Matthew W) approve of buses over rail because they are on motorways. And new motorways mean new roads for cars (if its not a Busway). So really, they just want more roads for all. Its got little to do with better PT.

          • Matthew W

            I’m not saying dont use the existing railway, but it does go a funny way – I dont know what the times would be like post CRL though. I am effectively saying, given they haven’t built the NW busway, just run it down the great big wide motorway they have built.

          • this consultation is only about south….

          • Matthew W

            Right, I thought we were talking about Kumeu. Yes use the railway for the Southern areas, of course!

  • KLK

    “Is a 80-100km/hr free flowing highway/motorway with frequent buses good enough?”

    Unless you know something the rest of us don’t, there isn’t one of those at peak in Auckland anywhere except going to from the North Shore.

    The key term in my earlier post was “RTN”. Tolling them on one road with traffic, to force them onto a bus which will be stuck in the same traffic on the same road, albeit perhaps slightly less congested….that’s a lot of effort to go to for little reward.

  • jezza

    Do you know if the planning that has gone into these areas has taken into account soil quality? While it’s inevitable that cities will continue to take up some productive land I hope that we are at least trying to build on the less productive and preserve the more productive.

  • Grant

    Looks like would seriously need RTN almost already. See link to Google typical Monday morning traffic at around 7am!
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/80131140/Drury%20Monday%20Morning%20Traffic.JPG
    I know they are putting in extra motorway lanes etc to Papakura north, but with the northern end full, will that help much or for long?

  • The future is already here.The southern motorway goes out to 90+ minutes into town from Drury between 6:30 and 8 am in the morning. The spill over goes up the great south road. Train stations and alternative roads are needed now not next week when the next SHA is unveiled.The south is already congested and the mad central nimbys don’t want a bar of it.

    • Agree. How about we try building Transit stations and servicing them earlier in the mix than usual for once. Mostly we’ve been waiting for everything else to be expensively overbuilt but still infarct before we get round to it. How about being a little more timely for once…? Just cos the road lobby has set up our institutions for their benefit doesn’t mean we can’t change….

  • Lloyd

    One thing that amazes me as not being on the list is a right-turn in and left-turn out of the Manukau Branch line. Use of the Railway from Papakura and Pukekohe area would increase dramatically if a direct connection to Manukau was available from those areas. If I was a Manukau Mall owner I would be banging on the council and AT’s door every day to get this connection installed and operated.

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