Waterview Connection July Timelapse

A few of the latest videos and images from the Waterview Connection project. As of the end of last week tunnelling on the second tunnel was just under 70% complete.

The July Timelapse

And a video of the construction of the massive ramps

We often see what the project looks like from above so here are a couple of photos I took the other day of the view those using the NW cycleway get of the ramps.

 

Waterview Ramps - 2

A view coming to the Northern Motorway at Constellation Dr soon?

Waterview Ramps - 3

Get out the Yellow Paint

I’ve been getting thoroughly fed up of inconsiderate drivers parking cars on footpaths and readers may remember a post I wrote about this less than a month ago. In the last few days the issue has become front page news at the herald who are encouraging outrage that some people were ticketed for the practice. I wish the media would show the same outrage when a person in a wheelchair or pushing a pram can’t get past a car parked on a kerb

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is backing furious residents of the two Orakei streets after the Weekend Herald revealed that Auckland Council parking wardens fined 27 residents in the early morning sting on cars with two wheels on the kerb.

Residents on Orakei’s Apihai and Tautari streets woke on Thursday to find $40 fines on their windscreens.

“The trouble with Auckland Council is its choice to apply blanket rules rather than common sense,” said Carmel Claridge, a spokesperson for the Ratepayers’ Alliance.

“Here a community have done the right thing by parking on the kerb to allow unimpeded access and reduce the hazard. Rather than let them be, the Council swans in with its ‘we know best’ attitude.”

Claridge said her son lives on the affected Tautari Street and believed if residents followed the rules the space left would make it impossible for emergency service vehicles to pass.

Auckland Transport is sticking by the decision, saying the road is not considered narrow and road markings are not needed to prescribe correct parking.

And you can listen to Carmel on Radio live talking about it here.

I can imagine in other situations where a ratepayers group would be furious if council/AT employed people who then didn’t do their job, a ‘what are we paying them for’ type argument. There can also be an issue – particularly in older suburbs – that vehicles can damage infrastructure just below the service, in particular water pipes. When that happens that can result in significant costs to ratepayers to fix.

Interestingly even on Google Streetview you can see the practice is pretty common.

Kerb Parking Herald

Although a quick check of streetview shows it’s not just cars blocking footpaths. For example there’s this on Apihai St showing little regard for those using the footpath

Kerb Parking Herald 2

The article contains a number of other comments blended in with what appears to be a healthy dose of entitlement.

“The people who live on this street, no one complains about it because everyone has to do it and has done it for years.”

One resident who received a ticket, Lyzadie Renault, said it was safer and more courteous to park half on the footpath.

Her home has no driveway and the family’s Range Rover does not fit inside their old, small garage that sits at street level.

“It’s common sense, it just means that people can get through easily and the whole street does it for that exact reason – nobody is trying to break the rules or is fully blocking the sidewalk, it’s being considerate for people using the road.

“When two cars are parked fully on the road, even if you have a normal-sized car, you have to go really slow, let alone for emergency vehicles or all the construction trucks and vans in this neighbourhood, plus rubbish trucks on Thursdays.”

So we’ve got ‘we’ve always parked illegally so why should we stop now’, ‘I brought a vehicle too big for my garage so should be able to park illegally’ and ‘if people didn’t do this I might have to slow down a little’.

And as you might expect, certain people/groups are jumping in to support the parkers.

Cameron Brewer thinks residents should be able to do what they want because they live in expensive houses.

Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer condemned the blitz as ridiculous. “These people pay huge rates and mean no malice but are being picked on because they’re most likely to stump up the cash to help fill Auckland Transport’s coffers.

“It’s completely unfair and uncalled for. These tickets should be waived forthwith.”

Local board chair Desley Simpson is oddly blaming intensification on something the residents say they’ve done for years

Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson said Auckland Transport needed to address the growing issues associated with narrow streets.

“Intensification and narrow streets are causing problems in our older inner-city suburbs,” she said. “Sadly, AT haven’t stepped up to look at options to address this.”

And the AA says people should be able to break rules.

But AA’s senior policy analyst, Mark Stockdale, backs the residents and said the agency should be looking for solutions.

“The public have been ticketed out of the blue for trying to do the right thing by leaving the road clear and not blocking the footpath,” he said.

“It’s the stick instead of the carrot. Yes, the rules are the rules but sometimes the rules don’t make sense – just fining people is not a solution.”

If fining people isn’t the solution and the residents continue to claim that the road is too narrow then it seems there is a quick, cheap and simple solution for Auckland Transport. They should get out the yellow paint and put some dashed lines down at least one side of the road. That’ll solve the problem but somehow I don’t think the residents like the outcome.

AT August Board Meeting

Tomorrow is the next Auckland Transport board meeting and as usual I’ve been through the board papers to pick out the parts that were interesting to me.

The most interesting details appear to be in the closed session and that appears no different this month. Some of the topics are:

  • Newmarket Level Crossing Project – I assume this will be seeking approval to lodge the Notice of Requirement
  • LRT Alignment
  • Deep Dive – Bus
  • K’Road Value Engineering Outcomes – My guess is this is about the K Rd station for the CRL. AT’s project page now says they’re now only going to build one entrance initially and I’ve heard some rumours that it’s the Beresford Square entrance that will not be built. It seems to me this is incredibly short sighted and a classic case of ‘value engineering‘ engineering all of the value out of the project.

K Rd station Beresford Entrance

  • CRL Communication Strategies update – This is likely to be about communication to manage the disruption caused by the CRL construction.
  • Britomart Development update – presumably the bid by Cooper & Co to develop the site behind Britomart

On to the main business report.

  • Te Atatu Rd – Construction has now begun and will is due to be completed in February 2017
  • K Rd Cycleway – AT say ‘ concept design for stakeholder input is planned for the end of 2015.’ I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
  • Nelson St Cycleway – According to the report consultation is due to start any day now on phase 2 which for Pitt St and north of Victoria St. The main issues is whether it uses Nelson St or Hobson St to get to Fanshawe St and down to Quay St. I personally think they should do both options.
  • Beach Rd Cycleway Stage 2 – Construction is due to be completed by the end of this month with a public opening ceremony for 18 September.
  • Otahuhu Bus-Train Interchange – Construction is due to start in mid-September and due to be completed in June next year before the rollout of the new bus network in October.
  • Manukau Bus-Train Interchange – AT are increasing the capacity of the interchange from 16 to 25 bays although two will be for bus layover. They say the key reason for the change is that the various inter-city bus operators will move from the CBD operate from there. Presumably this means that inter-city bus users going to/from the CBD will have to transfer to a train at Manukau. Particularly at peak times this might actually end up a faster outcome.
  • Parnell Station – Works on the platform are due to be completed in October but there is no date yet for when it will come in to use. Also of note is the old Mainline steam sheds are currently being demolished as the site was recently sold to a retirement village company. There’s a bit of an irony in that we will end up with a retirement village on one side of the tracks and Student accommodation on the other.
  • AMETI (Reeves Rd Flyover) – AT say a joint review between them, the council and the NZTA of the timing of Flyover and the busway from Pakuranga to Botany has been  happening with final discussions around funding options due to happen in August/September. The recommendations from the review will go to the AT and NZTA boards in October and the Council Infrastructure committee in November. I wonder how much they’ve taken in to account the Basin Reserve Flyover decision, in particular as they’ve said the Reeves Rd Flyover won’t improve things unless they also replicate similar solutions at Waipuna Rd and Carbine Rd.
  • Mill Rd – The hearings for the Notice of Requirement start at the end of the month. They say there were 286 submissions of which 216 were pro-forma ones in opposition.
  • WiFi on PT – AT will extend WiFi to all PT modes and vehicles – we saw WiFi as a requirement for new buses last week. AT are already trialling it on trains and it was available on the special service they put on for the EMU celebration just over a week ago. A trial will also begin on Gulf Harbour ferries and the Northern Express soon.
  • Active Modes Survey – AT say they’ve surveyed 1,600 Aucklander’s about walking and cycling along with their motivations and barriers for doing so. The high level results are completely unsurprising with concerns over safety from sharing lanes with cars continuing to be the largest barrier to more people cycling.
  • Rail Service Performance – there is a fairly lengthy comment about the performance of the rail system.

Service delivery (or reliability) is the proportion of trains not cancelled in full or part and arrive at their final destination. Punctuality is the proportion of trains that were not cancelled in full or part and that arrived at their final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time. Presented below are the services scheduled (blue bars), total services operated on-time (yellow line) and punctuality percentage (red line) trends.

There was a significant improvement in performance recorded during the month, partly reflecting the changes implemented from 20 July which saw the replacement of diesel trains with EMUs on all lines except on the non-electrified section between Papakura and Pukekohe. The operation of a single common fleet type removed many of the restrictions that previously existed that had complicated service recovery by allowing trains and crews to be swapped between lines thereby limiting the adverse impacts following service disruption.

For Jul-2015 service delivery (reliability) was 96.6% and punctuality was 83.7% compared to the 12 month average of 96.0% (94.9% last 6 months average and low of of 92.9% in April) and 83.1% (79.2% last 6 months average and low of 73.6% in June).

For the period 1-9 August, performance improved further with reliability at 98% and punctuality at 89% across 3,766 services.

A number of days in mid-August have seen performance at more than 99% service delivery and 90-95% punctuality.

While only a few weeks into the full EMU operations, service performance improvement is encouraging and supports the decision to introduce earlier the full EMU services. A joint team of AT, Transdev, KiwiRail and CAF are now focused on delivering the planned improvements

Rail Service Performance - July 15

  • Some other PT comments:
    • The first Howick & Eastern double decker arrives in the first week of September.
    • The first of the new bus shelters have started has been installed. It appears that the focus is on getting a number rolled out on the Hibiscus coast in preparation of the new network which rolls out in October
    • AT have asked Transdev and Kiwirail to review the timetables for the Pukekohe shuttle after complains the transfer time between services was too short.
    • On the roll-out of more bus priority they say that over the last month:
      • Onewa Road T3 lane (city bound) – went live in July
      • Park Road bus lane (hospital to Carlton Gore Road) – consultation completed; construction due to commence in September
      • Parnell Road bus lane (St Stephens to Sarawia Street – outbound) – consultation completed; construction due for completion in August
      • Manukau Road/Pah Road transit lanes – internal consultation completed – consultation underway
      • Great North Road bus lanes (New Lynn to Ash Street) – final concept plans completed – consultation completed
      • Totara Avenue signal removal – improvements to New Lynn bus interchange; construction completed and live
      • Esmonde Road bus lane – construction to commence September.

 

Basin Bridge Bowled again

Fantastic news out of Wellington yesterday with the High Court rejecting completely the NZTA’s appeal of the decision by the Board of Inquiry to decline consent for the Basin Reserve Flyover

Basin Bridge Image 2

The High Court today dismissed the NZ Transport Agency’s attempt to overturn the rejection of its controversial plan to build a 300-metre concrete flyover alongside the Basin Reserve.

In a decision released this afternoon, the Court stated:

The Transport Agency has not established that in its decision the Board of Inquiry made any error of law … Consequently the Agency’s appeal is dismissed.

And earlier:

The Board’s decision does not contain any of the errors of law alleged.

The Transport Agency had appealed against the Board of Inquiry’s decision to decline consent for the $90m flyover alongside the Basin Reserve.

The Government set up the Board of Inquiry process as a way of fast tracking consents for large projects to stop them being held up in years and years of appeals. The only appeals were allowed on points of law.

Some of the key reasons consent was declined in the first place was

  • That while the project would improve the cities transport system that it would do so at the expense of heritage, landscape, visual amenity, open space and overall amenity.
  • They are uncertain how the plan would have actually accommodated for Bus Rapid Transit as proposed in the Spine Study.
  • That the quantum of transport benefits were substantially less than what the NZTA originally said in lodging the NoR as they included transport benefits from other projects.
  • That while North/South buses would be sped up, that the modelling doesn’t show any impact effect of this on modal change.
  • That while there are some improvements for cyclists it’s mostly in the form of shared paths which will introduce potential conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.
  • That the dominance of the bridge would cause severe adverse affects on the local area and the mitigation measures proposed would do little to reduce that. They also found the new building proposed for the Basin Reserve would exacerbate this.

Some of these are likely to have massive implications for other projects such as the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing and the Reeves Rd Flyover. For example it likely means that the NZTA are going to have include not just the tunnel and direct connections in their consent for AWHC but also all the associated road widening of the Northern Motorway and Central Motorway Junction – which we understand is substantial. It could also stop the idea of building a combined road and rail tunnel across the harbour as the NZTA would have to consent the connections on either side. This will likely be why they’ve told us that they will not be including rail in current consent process.

AWHC - Indstry Briefing

 

Coming back to Wellington it will be interesting to see how the NZTA respond. It’s time they gave up idea and started thinking about other solutions.

Puhoi to Warkworth PPP shortlisted

While Auckland remains waiting on the government to commit to its share of funding for the most transformative transport project since the Harbour Bridge – the City Rail Link – the NZTA have just announced that they’ve shortlisted three groups of companies to build the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway as Public Private Partnership.

Confirmed route

In the past the NZTA have said the project could cost around $760 million however as PPPs are just glorified hire purchase arrangements it means that over the course of the loan it will cost us considerably more than that. As an example the Transmission Gully project in Wellington costs around $1 billion however after the interest accrued during construction is capitalised it pushes up the cost to about $1.3 billion. That cost is then paid off back to the private companies which the NZTA say will likely be $120-$130 million annually.

That cost might be justified if the current road was heavily used however it isn’t and even the NZTA’s own analysis during the consent hearings admitted it was only really busy a few times over summer. Neither is it the economic saviour of Northland like the government and some other politicians claim. For starters it finishes just north of Warkworth and from there north traffic is normally around 10,000 vehicles per day. Also if this new road was really going to make a difference in connecting Northland with the rest of the country then why hasn’t the existing toll road done that, or even the extension that got the motorway to Orewa/Silverdale in the early 1990’s.

Unfortunately we’ve not been allowed to see the business case for the project as in the past when asked the NZTA they’re keeping if secret until after they’ve awarded the tender.

Here’s the press release:

The NZ Transport Agency has today taken another step towards building the new Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway by announcing the consortia shortlisted to progress to the next stage of the project.

Transport Agency Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield says the building of the motorway is a significant step towards improving the safety, reliability and resilience of State Highway 1 between Northland and the upper North Island freight triangle of Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga.

In September 2014, a Board of Inquiry confirmed approval of the Transport Agency’s application for designation and resource consents for the project. This was followed, in May 2015, by the Cabinet approving an application by the Transport Agency to procure the motorway through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The Cabinet approval came after the Transport Agency determined, following an extensive business case analysis, that the project met the Treasury’s criteria to be procured as a PPP.

The consortia shortlisted to receive a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the financing, design, construction, management and maintenance of the Pūhoi to Warkworth project under a PPP are:

  • Northlink – made up of Cintra Developments Australia Pty Ltd, InfraRed Infrastructure III General Partner Ltd, John Laing Investments Ltd, Ferrovial Agroman Ltd, Fulton Hogan Ltd.
  • Northern Express Group – Made up of Accident Compensation Corporation, HRL Morrison & Co Public Infrastructure Partners, Acciona Concesiones S.L., Fletcher Building Ltd, Macquarie Group Holdings New Zealand Ltd, Acciona Infrastructure Australia Pty Ltd, The Fletcher Construction Company Ltd, Higgins Contractors Ltd.
  • Pacific Connect – made up of Pacific Partnerships Pty Ltd, VINCI Concessions S.A.S., ACS Infrastructure Australia Pty Ltd, Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments (No.4) Ltd, Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd, HEB Construction Ltd.

Mr Dangerfield says the announcement of the shortlisted consortia comes after a rigorous evaluation and selection process.

“We are very fortunate to have such high-quality companies and organisations showing an interest in the Pūhoi to Warkworth project. All of these companies and organisations have sound experience in delivering large infrastructure projects.

“I’m confident that any of these consortia can deliver a high-quality motorway which will provide greater resilience, improved road safety and journey time reliability, and a better connection for freight, tourism and motorists.”

Mr Dangerfield says the RFP will be issued to the shortlisted consortia later this month and the Transport Agency expects to announce a Preferred Bidder by mid-2016.

Subject to successful contract negotiations with the Preferred Bidder, the PPP contract for the project is expected to be awarded in October 2016.

He says the Pūhoi to Warkworth project seeks to procure a PPP contract that would deliver a value-for-money motorway which will assist economic growth in Northland.

“A PPP contract will likely see the PPP consortium manage and maintain the motorway for the 25 years that will follow the anticipated six-year period to build it.”

“PPPs are a particularly suitable procurement method for delivering great results for large-scale and complex infrastructure.

“Using a PPP for key infrastructure projects will open the door for private sector innovations that are not always achievable under traditional public sector procurement methods.

“PPPs allow specific outcomes to be established and measured – and for risks to be identified and transferred to the private sector.

“An outcomes-based PPP for the Pūhoi to Warkworth project will also allow great flexibility within the designation to achieve optimised innovative outcomes.”

Mr Dangerfield says that under a PPP, full ownership of the motorway will always remain with the public sector.

“The nature of the contract to be used will provide a strong incentive for the successful PPP consortium to deliver the best possible results for road users.”

Tentatively, construction of the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway, under a PPP arrangement, could possibly start in late 2016 with the road completed and open by 2022.

Mr Dangerfield says no decision has been made on tolling for the Pūhoi to Warkworth route but should the motorway be tolled, the Transport Agency would retain responsibility for tolling.

“The public would be fully consulted on any tolling proposal which must also obtain Ministerial approval,” he said.

He says the Transport Agency will continue to consider PPPs for other large-scale and complex infrastructure projects which could potentially benefit from the innovation and value-for-money that can be achieved through a PPP approach.

The first state highway in New Zealand to be delivered through a PPP is the Transmission Gully (MacKays to Linden) project in Wellington.

In July 2014, the Transport Agency signed a PPP contract with the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP). Work on Transmission Gully began in September last year, and the motorway will be open for traffic by 2020.

Timeframe for Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing Announced

The NZTA have recently published information on the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing on their website, including all of their technical reports, which are mostly from around 2010. These reports have been available elsewhere, however most people wouldn’t know they existed so it is good that NZTA have pulled them all together on the main NZTA site.

New to me are the timeframes for the project, which the NZTA have indicated are:

YearActivity
2015The Transport Minister asked the Transport Agency to take immediate steps to further develop the project. The Transport Agency will engage professional advisers to help prepare to help future proof the route.
Mid 2016NZ Transport Agency to serve Notices of Requirement for land required.
2017 to 2018Detailed business case investigations including funding options and design. Application and hearings for resource consents.
2019 to 2022Procurement stage including contract award, detailed design, land acquisition and preparation for works.
2022Estimated start of construction.
2027 to 2030Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing opens.

This is a much more aggressive timeline than the NZTA indicated at their recent briefing on the National Land Transport Programme, where it was suggested that the tunnel was unlikely to progress beyond the designation point for at least a decade.

The project website claims that the Auckland Plan identifies the AWHC will be required between 2025 and 2030 however, as we covered in this post, there isn’t any rational justification for this based on the Preliminary Business Case, which calculated a BCR of just 0.4.

NZTA route map

The project website mentions the “bigger picture”, emphasising that more than “55% of NZ’s freight travels through the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions”. As Matt covered in this post though, there really is only a tiny proportion of freight originating from Northland that is destined for points south, and vice-versa. It is quite misleading to include Northland in this statistic and it is certainly no justification for the AWHC . In any case, the website doesn’t mention the Western Ring Route, which is a continuous motorway linking Manukau and Albany and is due to be completed in phases in the next few years.

I haven’t reviewed all of the technical documents, but there are a couple of things about the transport modelling report that stand out. The emphasis in the snippet below is contained in the report – it isn’t mine:

Traffic Model Report 8.4

The transport model also has this table of car parking costs as an input assumption for the BCR, on p.42 of the report:

AWHC Carparking Cost Assumptions

I asked the NZTA what the highlighted text meant, and if the parking costs were daily or hourly rates, and they had this to say:

  • The Transport and Traffic Model Report (2010) analysis used costs that are 50th percentile costs which was appropriate for that stage of the investigation.
  • This report was one of the outputs of the Preliminary Business Case which was developed to assess the bridge and tunnel options. The focus was a fair “like for like comparison” between these two options, and as such the BCRs were tailored to the level of assessment appropriate to the decisions that were required to be made at that stage.
  • Currently, no further benefit cost analysis has been completed since 2010. Several years have passed since the benefit cost analysis was completed and we anticipate the BCR will be higher now.
  • Should a designation be secured for the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing, the Transport Agency will move forward with a Detailed Business Case in approximately 2017-2018. This will include further investigation to evaluate the preferred option and a detailed analysis of current costs and benefits.
  • The parking costs referred to in the report reflect average daily costs and were accurate at the time the modelling was undertaken.

So it looks like the mysterious Appendix M doesn’t actually exist, and any further analysis of costs and benefits won’t take place until the six lane tunnel for general traffic has been designated. The BCR of a rail only crossing to the North Shore, which will be billions of dollars cheaper than a road crossing primarily for single occupant cars, has not been calculated. The modelled costs of parking for the CBD seem woefully underestimated, compared to current earlybird rates of $24 a day.

This is completely the wrong way to go about a project which the Minister of Transport estimates will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion. Public consultation has been pretty much non-existent. I doubt many North Shore residents realise that if the new crossing is tolled, it is likely to be a toll on both the existing bridge and the new crossing.

There has been a complete lack of analysis of the impact of the fire-hose of single occupant cars which will flood the CBD as a result of the project, and neither has the full cost of increasing the capacity of the CMJ and approaches been considered. The NZTA already have in the scope of the designation work widening the motorway from Esmonde to Northcote, but it is likely that the motorway will have to be widened further north as well. The space required for this motorway widening work will undoubtedly take precedence over any future design for mass rapid transit.

Luke did a post last year on the environmental impacts of the toll road tunnel, including ventilation stacks for exhaust fumes that will be up to 35m (10 storeys) high on both sides of the crossing and the massive amounts of reclamation required. I’m not sure why the residents of Northcote Point haven’t formed an action group yet over the impending loss of Sulphur Beach and the marina. They seem oblivious to their neighbourhood becoming a construction site for at least five years too.

And of course the fact that the tunnels might be “future-proofed” for rail means nothing in practice. The designation process should not be going ahead without a clear understanding of what the mass transit network will look like on the North Shore.

There is no urgency for the crossing either – actual traffic volumes are well below the trend envisaged in the 2010 reports:

AHB Annual Volumes to 2014 - 2

I wrote to Auckland City Councillors and asked them to stand up for what Aucklanders actually want, rather than simply acquiesce to this ill thought-out plan. The only response I got was from Cllr George Wood, who said that “I must say that Simon Bridges is committed to the AWHC” and “people north of the Waitemata want the additional crossing. We certainly don’t want wish it to be stalled.”

Does George speak for everyone on the North Shore? Does Simon Bridges? What do you think?

East-West Link and North Shore New Network consultation updates

Yesterday both Auckland Transport and the NZTA made announcements on some recent consultations. They were discussing just some high level results rather than any detailed analysis – which will now begin.

East West Link

AT and the NZTA received quite a bit of feedback about the project with around 1,700 responses. Their summary of some of  the key points shows that they’ve noted some of the concerns we and others have raised – such as the land-locking of the cycleway and access for rail to the airport from Onehunga to remain feasible – they’ve also had pressure on the other side from the trucking lobby who want even fewer intersections which would make it even more motorway like.

East-West Preferred Option

Fabulous feedback for one of Auckland’s priority projects

A wide range of feedback has been received on the preferred approach for the East West Connections transport project, from suggestions about providing cycling on the seaward side of the new foreshore road to design ideas to improve transport performance.

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport would like to thank everyone who gave feedback on the preferred approach to improve transport connections into and out of Onehunga-Penrose and the reliability of bus services between Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park.

About 1,700 feedback responses were received and approximately 250 people came to the open days. All the information is still being analysed. A summary of feedback, and how it has been used, will be released later in the year. In the interim, these are some of the key themes that have been noted:

  • Suggestions regarding the design of the route with the aim of improving transport performance. Key points include the desire to reduce the number of traffic lights and intersections (particularly to assist with heavy vehicles movements), changes to the design of the Neilson Street Interchange and also the interchange at SH1
  • The East West Connections project continues to maintain opportunities for achieving future rail connections in the area, including rail to the airport.
  • That the project should improve access to the harbour and Onehunga Wharf
  • Walking and cycling facilities should be provided along the seaward side of the new foreshore road (with connections back into Onehunga). Opportunities for improved walking and cycling connections should also continue to be explored. For example connections to Māngere Bridge, Onehunga Mall, Mutukaroa-Hamlins Hill and Orpheus Drive.
  • Natural features such as Anns Creek and the Hopua Tuff ring should be protected and that potential impacts from the project on water quality, air quality, and noise need to be carefully considered and managed.
  • Support for proposed bus and cycle lanes between Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park, but some concerns that the bus lanes would be shared with freight vehicles.

The NZ Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager, Brett Gliddon says the responses will help refine the agencies understanding of what needs to be considered as the project progresses.

“We are still in the early stages with the concept design for the preferred approach. The feedback will be used to help us make decisions as we move from concept through to detailed design. For example identifying where cycle lanes should be located, things we need to consider when designing intersections and how we can improve access to the harbour.”

Auckland Transport Key Strategic Initiatives Project Director Theunis Van Schalkwyk says the feedback is part of an on-going conversation with the community the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport will continue as designs are further developed.

“We’re very pleased with the level of support we’ve received around the proposed improvements to speed up bus journeys between Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Sylvia Park. The feedback will be used to help develop the designs for the bus priority lanes and cycle improvements.”

The Transport Agency’s Brett Gliddon says the next steps for the project will be to undertake further investigations on the preferred approach and confirm the land needed to protect the route. If people have feedback, thoughts or ideas at any time we would encourage them to contact the project team on eastwest@nzta.govt.nz”.

 

North Shore New Network Consultation

AT received massive feedback for the new network on the North Shore with over 3,150 responses or comments. To put that in perspective both the South Auckland and West Auckland consultations had just over 1,000 responses each. Give the level of feedback I suspect that means it’s likely to take much longer to get any results and final decisions about the network.

North Shore Proposed New Bus Network

Local feedback will make a better bus network for the North Shore, AT says

Auckland Transport has begun analysing more than 3150 submissions received from the North Shore New Network consultation.

  • Over 2,400 formal submissions (including 26 in Chinese).
  • More than 750 comments on the online discussion forum, which will also be counted as feedback and analysed.
  • 5 petitions were received.
  • More than 32 events were held over the six week consultation period, where more than 3,400 people were engaged with.

“There was a high level of public participation on the North Shore, almost double than previous New Network consultations, and we want to thank everyone for their feedback,” says Anthony Cross, Public Transport Network Manager.

“The more local knowledge and opinion we get, the more informed our decisions will be, and the better the final Network we can deliver.”

The next stage is analysis, which entails evaluating feedback and investigating issues raised.

“When a concern is raised by the community, we look into it in detail,” says Anthony. “This can include exploring different options and the operational and financial implications, such as where bus stops would be or where a bus could turn around.”

“Ultimately we aim to make the best decision for the largest number of people, within the constraints we are given.”

Early results show a range of support and opposition. One resident supported the “better connections to alleviate the demand for parking at the park and rides,” and another commented that “more frequent weekend trips will make public transport a more viable option when travelling with family.”

Once confirmed, the final decisions and service design will be available at www.AT.govt.nz/NewNetwork or people can sign up to an email newsletter to be kept up to date.

Implementation is planned for 2017, a timeframe which is required so that any infrastructure changes can be made, and a competitive tender process can be carried out to decide which bus company will operate each route, on certain parts of the network.

Tenders will be released following service design completion in the first half of 2016. A comprehensive information campaign will be held prior to implementation to make people aware of the changes.

“Many people we spoke to during consultation were eager to see the new bus network happen earlier than 2017, but there’s a lot involved in making changes of this scale, so we’re doing it in phases by area.

“Over the next two years we will have delivered a New Network for the whole of Auckland, starting with the Hibiscus Coast this October.”

Consultation on the new bus network for the North Shore ran from 2 June to 13 July 2015. The changes proposed would provide a number of benefits, including new frequent bus services on key routes across the North Shore running every 15 minutes, 7am – 7pm, 7 days a week, and a more connected, and easier to understand bus network overall.

Past consultations for the New Network have included: Hibiscus Coast, West Auckland, South Auckland and Pukekohe and Waiuku.

More information is available at www.AT.govt.nz/NewNetwork.

 

Trouble with a Union St Carpark

It appears that Auckland Transport may have sold a key piece of land needed to implement part of the council’s City Centre Master Plan.

Yesterday it was announced by the NZTA that they are building a Central Incident Response Centre on the site of a former AT carpark on Union St.

NZ Transport Agency committed to keeping Auckland moving with new Central Incident Response Centre

The NZ Transport Agency is establishing Auckland’s first permanent Central Incident Response Centre located on Union Street in the central city.

The team who’ll be based at the centre will focus on the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ) part of the network, attending to motorway accidents and breakdowns, assisting in the clean-up of spills, removing debris, and managing technical issues like monitoring faults and completing minor repairs.

“The team is currently based at temporary facilities at the northern end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The new location means they will have close access to the Victoria Park Tunnel and direct access to the State Highways to help ensure that our motorways are kept safe for drivers and that traffic keeps moving,” says Auckland and Northland State Highways Manager Brett Gliddon.

Since the incident response team was formed 3 years ago, it has been called out to attend more than 2,300 incidents in the CMJ area.

The teams are typically made up of 4 crew and 3 vehicles. They will continue to work around the clock on a 12-hour shift roster every day of the year from the new Union Street facility.

The new centre is due to be opened in October. It will be situated on the site of what was the Union Street public carpark, which has now been closed. The building will be constructed off-site and put in place overnight. All other preparation work on-site will be completed during the day.

Here’s the site.

Union St Carpark

That’s all well and good except for the fact the council has identified that same site as a location to realign the Cook St off-ramp – reducing traffic on Cook St and enabling it to eventually become much less of a traffic sewer. The vision for the area is shown in Move 2 of the CCMP. Here’s what they say about it.

The Victoria Quarter has considerable latent development potential. The development industry has recognised this opportunity. However, the full potential of the area will only be
realised when Nelson and Hobson Streets become inviting public spaces for pedestrians, and other strategic development opportunities, such as in the Wynyard Quarter and growth
around the City Rail Link stations, are further advanced. Significant investment in amenity of the area and its streets and spaces will be important, as will greater connections across the motorways to Freemans Bay and Freemans Bay School, which is set to double in size.

In time the area will emerge as a vibrant, residential-led, mixed-use urban neighbourhood, referencing its industrial heritage and with a strong leaning towards compact family
housing. The built form is anticipated to be reasonably fine grained medium-rise development that responds to the needs of families, i.e. unit titles, with reasonable indoor/outdoor spaces and opportunities for safe play.

Auckland Council owns significant areas of land in the quarter. This is mainly road reserve, but it also includes a 5853m² parcel of land at 106 Cook Street on the corner of Union Street. A dramatic change is proposed for this area with a draft masterplan in place that will centre residential apartments and office space on a new public park.

Redevelopment plans, along with longer term New Zealand Transport Agency plans to upgrade the Cook Street interchange as part of the additional harbour crossing, will require a new road layout appropriate for a new pedestrian focused area.

Here’s what they envision it could look like and it looks like it has the potential to be a fantastic area of the city without the motorway firing traffic on to Cook St. In addition the straightened off-ramp looks like it would probably be safer too.

CCMP Move 2 - Victoria Quarter

On the plus side of things at least this was sold to the NZTA and not a private developer which means there’s a chance the NZTA could move the new Central Incident Response Centre and still realign the off ramp. In response to a question about it the NZTA have said the building could be relocated of needed.

The new structure is permanent, however for future proofing purposes it can be moved to another site in the future if that becomes preferable.

Of course the purchase is also a bit of land banking by the NZTA in case an additional harbour road crossing goes ahead. In fact I was told by Auckland Council Properties Ltd (soon to become part of Development Auckland) that development of the 106 Cook St site is on hold as they believe up to one third of it might be needed by the NZTA for the AWHC. This highlights that far from just a tunnel, it has serious impacts for large parts of the city both in how much land it takes up where it connects but also affecting the development potential of the city.

Tauranga Eastern Link complete

Yesterday the Prime Minister John Key and Minister of Transport Simon Bridges officially opened just the second Roads of National Significance to be completed – the $455 million Tauranga Eastern Link. All up the project is 21km long from Te Maunga in Tauranga through to Paengaroa, bypassing Te Puke along the way although it doesn’t actually open to the public until Monday. The NZTA say it was one of the most technically challenging projects as due to the very soft soil conditions however it has been finished up to five months ahead of schedule

Interestingly I was down just past Paengaroa last weekend visiting some family and so it would have actually been useful had it been open then as the new road is around 3km shorter and obviously straighter and faster than the current road. You can see a comparison of the two in the image (along with some of the engineering features the NZTA have pointed out.

Tauranga Eastern Link Map

The project has been justified based on a couple of key aspects and along with travel times savings, one of the key ones being that it allows for more greenfield growth on the edge of Tauranga.

“The Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) has been designed to support the growth of the Bay of Plenty, reduce travel times and improve safety,” he says.

“It will be a strong anchor to support managed land use in a planned and sensible progression in this region.”

The TEL brings the East Cape and the central North Island closer to the Port of Tauranga.

“The road shaves off around 12 minutes when compared to the old route, which means some freight operators will be able to complete an extra trip each day.

“The new road will also significantly improve safety, reducing the amount of death and serious injury crashes in the region.”

Whether deliberate or not it kind of feels like one of the aims is to help further undermine the rail network by making it a lot easier for trucks to compete.

 

The video below gives a flythough of the project from November last year. As you can see there are lots of long straight sections – something that will almost certainly see people driving faster than the limit on. Speeding is already an issue on the 6km section that’s already been opened

What will be one of the most interesting factors to watch in the coming months and years is just how many people use it. The road will be tolled at $2 per trips for light vehicles and $5 for heavy vehicles and based on the Northern Gateway toll road up to Puhoi – around 25% are using the old road despite the new one being considerably faster. In the area there hasn’t been much of traffic growth recently as the chart below shows, the four locations are showing in the following image.

Road volumes around TEL

tel-aerial-markers

We’ll obviously keep an eye on what happens with traffic volumes on the road.

The designers have managed to come up with some of the most space hungry designs I’ve seen for the Paengaroa end. The roundabout joins the existing SH2 (top left, bottom right) with the TEL (top right) and SH33 (bottom left)

Tauranga Eastern Link - Paengaroa Roundabout

Lastly the NZTA already appear to have next phase of roading in Tauranga planned which will see the roundabout at the western end and the one just up the road at Bayfair replaced with flyovers. The NZTA estimate a start date for this of next year. Is it just me or does Tauranga seem to be trying desperately to be mini Auckland when it comes to land use and transport

Tauranga Eastern Link - Bayfair

 

Time to cut the kerb parking

A trend I and others have been noticing lately is an ever increasing number of vehicles parking on the kerb or footpath – and it’s really starting to annoy me. It ranges from a couple of tires up on the edge of the kerb to full blown parking over footpaths and blocking pedestrians. From what I can tell a couple of common reasons seem to be

  • the presence of yellow no park lines where it seems that some drivers think that if they mount the kerb it doesn’t really count as parking
  • trying to take up less space on the road, perhaps trying to give other drivers more space to reduce the chance of their vehicle being side-swiped (I can’t imagine this happens often).

Or course in both situations the result is it’s primarily those on foot who suffer, sometimes even having to walk out on to busy roads to get around the vehicle. For someone like me able bodied like me that’s primarily an inconvenience but for other segments of society such as some of those with prams/small children, those with disabilities or the elderly it can be a real safety risk, especially if the vehicle also blocks ramps on to the road.

Here are just a few examples I and others have seen recently however there are likely to be multiple examples every day where this occurs.

Outside Countdown Takapuna, it’s not like there wasn’t a near empty parking lot 10m away (just to the right of the image. I’ve also regularly seen small trucks in the same spot delivering things.

Kerb Parking 1

These guys couldn’t find a carpark so they made one up (they were also sitting in the car and weren’t too polite about me pointing out they were blocking a footpath)

Kerb Parking 4

This driver and their boat blocked not just the footpath but the cycle lane too.

Kerb Parking 5

“Its ok, the hazard lights are on” This was another driver who was very abusive at the suggestion he shouldn’t have been parking here.

Kerb Parking 6

And a few examples from twitter

High St footpaths are narrow enough without this happening

Trailers seem to be a common occurrence

As are couriers

https://twitter.com/aw_nz/status/608871069793976320

Looks like a ladder on the roof, tradie?

Deliveries here are obviously a challenge but perhaps not delivering at 8:30am when people are walking to work might be a good idea.

Kerb Parking 3-1

The loading zone was full so the driver decided to wait, blocking the footpath – again Countdown Takapuna.

Kerb Parking 2

5 Star removals, 0 star parkers

To their credit when the cases in the CBD at least have been raised on twitter, Auckland Transport have been fairly quick to say they’ll get a parking warden out as soon as possible but my concern is the hundreds of other times these situations aren’t reported and/or they are in areas without parking wardens nearby. AT seem more than happy to put on advertising and gimmicks encouraging pedestrians to cross the road safely so there should be no reason they can’t also put effort into stamping out this potentially dangerous practice.

Are you noticing an increase in kerb/footpath parking and what do you think needs to happen to address it?