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Porters Ave and the CRL

While looking at Auckland Transport’s website recently I came across a now closed consultation relating to the Porters Ave level crossing and how it is affected by the CRL. Some of the information included in the consultation is quite technical and may be of interest to readers.

As originally planned the CRL was to have had a station underneath the southern end of Symonds St before travelling through a flat junction to the connections towards Grafton and Kingsland. Due to the grades involved the tracks from the CRL would have been in a cutting about 4m below the current track level at Porters Ave so it wouldn’t have taken much to bridge over the tracks to provide a grade separated crossing. This is shown below.

RevA

AT say this design is no longer possible due to the changes made dropping the Newton Station and creating a grade separated junction in its place. As a result, the tracks will be a lot closer to the surface and as such would need a higher bridge. The problem is the proximity of the crossing to New North Rd and as such the ramps needed to reach the bridge would result in a 2-3m difference in height at the intersection. As such AT needs a different solution.

A traffic assessment found the crossing was used by just over 2,800 vehicles a day with hourly peak volumes as shown below. It also found that the impact of closing the crossing would send traffic to Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd which would result in some all increases on nearby roads but that overall travel times won’t be all that different.

Porters Ave Traffic volumes

For the consultation AT provided three alternatives. Each were assessed a range of criteria which can be summarised into four groups

  • Strategic
  • Traffic
  • Environmental and social
  • Economic

1. Close the crossing built build a pedestrian/cycle bridge

Given the title, it should be fairly self-explanatory and AT say that this is their preferred option having come out with the best results from the assessment criteria with a total of 12.07.

RevA

2. Close the crossing built build a pedestrian/cycle bridge and a road from Fenton St to Akiraho St

This is an extension of the option 1 above and adds a new road connection between Fenton St to Akiraho St. AT say the main issue with it is that it would require new land to be purchased to build the connection and would increase vehicle numbers. From the analysis it wasn’t too far behind assessment of option 1, scoring 11.41

Porters Ave crossing Option 2

3. Build a new road connection from Ngahura St.

The third option is a departure from the two above and AT also consider it the least favourable option. It would involve building a 120m long bridge from Ngahura St. This option would not only be expensive but also require the removal of the apartment building next to the tracks. In other words, this wouldn’t be cheap (or easy). It had an assessment score of 9.84.

RevA

Option 1 does seem like the best of them but it will be interesting to see what feedback AT get. Will they cave and pursue a bridge option like they did just down the road in Newmarket with the Sarawia crossing?

I also wonder when or when we’ll hear about any other level crossing removals. It feels like something not even really on ATs agenda.

Lastly I thought this image (click here for larger version) showing the layout of the area was quite interesting. In the top right you can see a cross section of the rail corridor at a few locations. Also showing is the junction that will be underground and the extension of Ruru St over the new station platform and around alongside the tracks to Mt Eden Rd.

Mt Eden indicative layout

 

52 comments to Porters Ave and the CRL

  • Christopher T

    Funnily enough Option 3 involves the purchase of land sold off not so long ago. Those apartment buildings were only constructed in 2002. It’s a bit like Newmarket where again railway land was flogged off to the private sector with nary a thought for what might be needed in terms of infrastructure requirements for a larger city.

    • Max

      But would we want 3? Not always is the possible the best option. And unless we sold it for an unreasonable amount, that land has since 2002 benefitted Auckland twice – by bringing govt some cash and by providing apartment housing next to a train station (of course that doesn’t mean I agree with all-out sale of Council land, not at all)

  • Cargill_Street

    I submitted on this conversation and indicated I was agnostic on either 1 or 2, but definitely not 3. I’ve noticed a lot of the consultations go unnoticed on the AT website unless one lives near the proposed works site or has too much time digging around the website. I suspect not too many people submitted, even though its impacts are much wider than the area surrounding the crossing.

  • Jonty

    It took me far too long to realise that these images have north facing downwards. Time for coffee.

    • Bevan

      Yes, agreed. Why not just have north pointing up? Conventions make reading maps a heck of a lot easier (plus it’s the “right” way!).

    • Ha! Thanks for spotting this, for the longest time I didn’t have the damnedest idea what I was looking at.

  • Max

    Slightly off-topic, but the last diagram abbreviated the rail line names. I know NAL stands for North Auckland Line, but what does EFC stand for on the CRL line?

    • Jonty

      Hi Max, pretty sure that’s the East Facing Connection (which appeared to be West facing to me).

    • Greg N

      East facing connection.

    • Mike (the longstanding one)

      And NIMT being North Island Main Trunk, it shows that the CRL is (entirely logically) being treated as an extension of the main line from Wellington – the second change of its northern termination in recent years, and historically its third routing in Auckland.

  • alan j

    Whatever one makes the trains run faster.

    Surely that is the only consideration, we need to get ROI out of these expensive trains, any choice that doesn’t have them running quickly is a waste of money

  • Why the flip are they building a new dead end road in the middle of train junction?

  • Geoff

    Why are the general traffic flows across the level crossing greater in the counter-peak direction? Is this some sort of rat run?

    • Lindsey

      You would never want to turn right out of Porters Ave onto New North Road at any sort of peak time. There are much easier options involving traffic lights! Even left can be difficult because of the slip lane to Dominion Rd. Definately need the pedestrian access – for those in my area of Kingland – this is the closest station.

  • This shows up some problems with AT’s consultation processes. 1. Why only ask local people what they want. They alwys want either no change or more of everything. But 2. And more importantly, there is absolutely no point in considering this road change in isolation from all the other road changes coming to this area with this project. This is not an isolated change, there is proposed to be a whole new road network installed above the CRL portal connecting Mt Eden and New North Rds that obviously have a bearing on this minor detail. AT are too project focussed and insufficiently planning focussed. This is all from an engineering workstream not a design and planning one. AT need a ‘streets Tsar’ or similar to have overview of engineering projects with awareness of how each fits into the wider programmes. But there’s no excuse here; it’s all one project, everyone involved here must know about the other proposed road changes….

  • And, having said the above, it’s highly likely that the additional expense and traffic of 3 is entirely unnecessary because of the new connections to the north between Mt Eden and New North Rds. I am assuming there will be connection(s) from Akipiro St and both sets of platforms for peds and people with bikes? These don’t seem to be shown…?

    Here we go, it would be good to get a wider view than this to show the extent of the changes at surface level for the whole area:

    Anyway the new through-routing of Ruru St clearly compensates some connectivity between Mt Eden and New North Rds, without attracting traffic through quiet residential streets. The closure of Porters Ave looks like a very good thing except perhaps for some traffic from the small number of commercial premises on the south side of the tracks. I would expect these to be replaced by apartments over time anyway, so this change is likely to do a good job of separating the commercial end of Porters Ave from the residential of Wynyard Rd. Close it.

    New road layout post CRL construction

  • So apartments are already arriving on Fenton St: http://www.ockham.co.nz/station-r/?locale=en

    So Number 1 with the addition of a foot/bike path between Akiraho and Fenton. Between this building and the its neighbour.

  • John B

    Is there any information what is planned for the Normandy Rd level crossing?

  • Graeme Easte,

    Porters Ave will be grade separated (2m hump-backed bridge for N. road + tracks in 4-5m trench). Closure of Porters Ave and George Street (each about 200 m from Dominion Road) should only be done once the redundant Dominion Road/New North interchange is demolished and replaced with a conventional 4-way signalised intersection. This will also make light rail work much better and release several hectares of land for apartments (with shops/cafes at street level) which will pay for re-engineering the roads. At present only George St & Porters Ave allow a connection from Kingsland/Morningside/Grey Lynn to Dominion Road or the north end of Mount Eden so I strongly oppose closing Porters Avenue until there are turning options from New North Road (eastbound) into Dominion Road (southbound) and vice versa which is what the proposed replacement of the interchange with an ordinary intersection would allow (for the first time in half a century). Part of what Patrick refers to – looking at the wider network.

    • So normalising that intersection is a priority on so many levels. Question is; which budget does it come from? And how can we change the system so that the land released for higher value use can be accounted against the cost?

    • Graeme the rail being in a 4m trench was the original plan but that’s not going to be the case any more and will be closer to the surface which is why AT were consulting on other options.

  • Graeme Easte,

    I was fearful that if the Dominion Road Interchange/Intersection project was run by AT we might not get the best outcome so I have also worked to get Ludo (Urban Design Champion) Campbell-Reid + Panuku Developments involved so that we get a functioning community around that intersection in place of the current half kilometre wide blot on the landscape which appears almost entirely focussed on channelling cars through the precinct. Encouragingly the various agencies have been working together on this behind the scenes for some months though the link with the light rail project is delaying things. Once the high level decision on light rail (go/no go) is out in the next few weeks there might be some greater clarity. I am expecting a briefing on progress this month.

    • Great to hear Graeme; good work.

    • James Clarke

      Bravo! That is very encouraging.

    • Sailor Boy

      Great work Graham. This large block of land that will be created represents a great opportunity to get the denser urban environment to ‘jump’ the motorway collar and hopefully spread down Dominion Road/ New North Road. A fantastic opportunity to leverage the LRT program for a PPP too.

    • Does light rail necessarily involve removing the interchange? I want it to go as badly as anyone, but if AT are cheap it seems straightforward enough to just run the tracks along the existing interchange ramps.

      The devil’s also in the details – will removing the interchange involve blowing the intersection out with half a dozen lanes for turns in every direction? That may not be much of an improvement.

      • Stephen; that space wasting absurdly overbuilt interchange has to go for so many reasons:

        1. Because it is a waste of space; it takes up valuable urban land
        2. To enable ordinary traffic movements as Graeme describes above
        3. heal severance for people walking and on bikes and ease access to all PT in area
        4. for LRT to work

        Number one alone will pay for the removal financially, the rest provide economic benefits.

        • I don’t disagree with any of that except 4 – I don’t see why it’s necessary for LRT to work. I worry in our (understandable) rush to get LRT done we’ll lock the interchange in its current form indefinitely.

          • As I understand it LRT can’t work without removing it, at least not for anything but Dominion Rd and there has been some suggestions the first stage will extend to Kingsland to relieve pressure on western line caused by CRL works reducing capacity through Mt Eden.

        • Greg Nikoloff

          From prior discussions/post on getting rid of the flyover – I recall the only real trick needed to remove the Dominion Road motorway flyover, is basically to demolish the flyover.

          This frees up land so that the NNR can be rerouted away from the underpass area while they are demolished/filled in.

          The road underpasses were proposed to be filled in with rubble [from the flyover?] and such to backfill them, and then the Dominon Road/NNR roads intersection is built on top of the former underpass/ruins.
          Because the Dominion Road “bridge” stays put at all times, traffic can continue to flow up/down Dominion as it has always done. All it can’t do is access NNR with the flyover gone.

          As such, there is nothing really that should preclude the LRT from using Dominion Road north alignment to access either Dominion Road or to be able to go west along NNR.

          For accessing NNR to the west of Dominion Road, I understood that LRT track to get to Sandringham Road and further west (Kingsland) would run along the track of the current left turn/”on-ramp” that goes off from NNR when heading East [before the underpass under Dominion] and it then links to Dominion Road going North.

          If the Flyover has been blown away and an at grade intersection created with NNR/Dominion – then this “slip lane” is superfluous anyway and is ideal for LRT to use to do its little 90 degree bend from Dominion road to head west along NNR..

          So its not wasted land.

        • Replacing a grade separated junction with traffic lights means creating another bubble of air pollution from lines of idling and accelerating vehicles, and increases noise. It will be a very unattractive living environment. It’ll be the sort of place best suited to car sales yards and a service station, not apartments.

          Better to leave it as is, with free-flowing traffic and greenery. Will make for the perfect LRT junction too. Grade separation ready-to-go.

          • Its a horrible heap of shit place Geoff. Pardon my language but the place is so dire and transit-unfriendly I think I’m being kind!

            You can barely walk around there even if you wanted to. It kills access to buses, the train station and it will not be good for any trams. You know what makes the best LRT route? The one that people can actually get to on foot, with stations that are accessible from activity areas, a route with homes and shops and workplaces nearby. That interchange is a huge hole in the network, and literal dead zone where there could be one of the busiest stops on the network. Rip it out and fill it with apartments, shops and offices. The amount of land wasted is about as big as Carlaw Park.

            As for the traffic and traffic lights, no big deal. Its about as busy as the intersection of Ponsonby Rd and Richmond Rd. Hardly an unattractive environment, according to the people clamouring to live there at least.

          • Bevan

            The un-grade separated replacement will be no different to any other signalised intersection anywhere along the city fringe corridors.

            The current state of play is an over-engineered disaster. The sooner we see the end of it, the better!

  • Option 3 would be a terrible outcome, but I’m hoping the sheer cost of buying and bowling an apartment building will easily put paid to it.

    Whatever happens, I hope that a link to Akiraho Street comes out of it, whether for general traffic or just peds and bikes. It’s a street that has a lot of promise, and with one short link to Mt Eden Station it would be a prime location for intensification on the old commercial sites. Apartments work great by the train station, but only if you can actually get to the train station.

  • Jonty

    They should drop the western line into a trench from west of George St to east of Normanby Rd, which would remove 4 level crossings, including Dominion Road interchange. Yeah I know, very costly blah blah blah, but it’s got to be done sometime so why not now as part of this project?

    • Normanby probably requires some lowering, but Porters and George just need to be closed, which will improve life on those streets, currently used as rat-runs. It is already below Dom Rd and will remain so.

      • James B

        I used to live just off George Street and closing that crossing would be a pain in the arse for the people living there. It’s the only way to get to New North Road without going onto Dominion Road turning right onto either Walters or Onslow Road, then trying to perform a right hand turn onto Sandringham Road. It may be a bit of a rat run in the evening rush hour but removing it would be really inconvenient. Wait until a regular intersection is built at Dominion/New North to allow for all movements and then close it.

  • Graeme Easte,

    In reply to James B – that is exactly what is being proposed: close both George Street and Porters Ave level crossings (200m E & W of Dominion Road – which is already grade separated) BUT ONLY AFTER converting the interchange of Dom Rd/NNR to a standard 4-way intersection. The existing one-way road underpass (connecting Ian McKinnon Drive south-bound with New North Road west-bound) was actually built to cater for two-way traffic (ever wondered why it is so cavernously large?) and used in that mode back in 1967-68 while the New North Road trench was being built (I have some fascinating photos showing the bypass in use). Using this underpass again for a few months while the NNR trench is back filled will save on traffic disruption and cost (there is no reason to dig up the retaining structures – just bury them). Officers have been working for months on a feasibility report which is due back this month. Hopefully we can get this project actually underway before the 50th anniversary of the completion of the interchange.

    • A lot will depend on timing. If we can’t get Dominion Rd interchange sorted before CRL is started do we put CRL on hold just to leave Porters Ave open? Basically unless going for option 3 then Porters will have to close as there is no other bridge option available by the sounds of it.

  • Graeme Easte,

    Obviously we would not delay CRL in favour of retaining access at Porters but I would expect a commitment to resolving the interchange within the next couple of years and strongly suggest delaying any change at Porters Ave until it is actually required for work on lowering the tracks to the new north platform at Mount Eden and the southern entrance to CRL (which I understand to be 3-4 years away). Meeting with Panuku later this month but may not get a clear steer on feasibility and timing for some months.

  • TLL

    Those accessing the mount eden station via flyover/porters ave will now have to walk to an entrance off Mount Eden Road…..does that make Kingsland the closest station