Strong support for Seapath

The NZTA have advised that they had an excellent response on their first consultation about Seapath with more than 2,500 people responding which is pretty significant for a an early consultation. This will be in large part to the feedback form created by our friends at Generation Zero.

The NZTA say they’re still analysing the feedback but the key themes already include:

  • Strong support for a well-designed separated walking and cycling path with safe connections to local facilities.
  • Natural features should be recognised along with connections to the harbour for people to enjoy the coastal environment and views to the city.
  • The importance of safe, practical connections at either end of the path and along the route – in particular Akoranga Drive, Esmonde Road, Sylvan Ave, Onewa Road and Stafford Road.
  • The southern end of the path needs to provide a clear connection to the proposed SkyPath crossing, while the northern end needs a safe crossing and connection to onward routes.

Neither the level of support the project has or the issues raised are surprising. This will be a great project once combined with Skypath.

Seapath March-16 Route

Here’s the full press release.

The NZ Transport Agency says there’s been overwhelming support from the public for SeaPath, a proposed walking and cycling path between Takapuna and Northcote Point on Auckland’s North Shore.

SeaPath is a proposed 3km separated path largely on the western side of the Northern motorway. It will provide safe and direct connections to local communities, destinations and walking and cycling routes.

More than 2,500 feedback forms were received and approximately 108 people came to information sessions during a recent consultation process with the community.

All of the feedback and suggestions are now being analysed and a summary, along with the next steps, will be released later in the year.

Some of the key themes so far include:

  • Strong support for a well-designed separated walking and cycling path with safe connections to local facilities.
  • Natural features should be recognised along with connections to the harbour for people to enjoy the coastal environment and views to the city.
  • The importance of safe, practical connections at either end of the path and along the route – in particular Akoranga Drive, Esmonde Road, Sylvan Ave, Onewa Road and Stafford Road.
  • The southern end of the path needs to provide a clear connection to the proposed SkyPath crossing, while the northern end needs a safe crossing and connection to onward routes.

The NZ Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager, Brett Gliddon says the responses will help refine the future design.

“We’re very pleased with the amount of interest there has been on the proposed walking and cycling path, which will be an important link in Auckland’s wider walking and cycling network.”

“Getting more people on their bikes is a key priority for the Government through the NZ Transport Agency, to create more predictable journeys for all travellers as well as connecting people with a greater range of employment, education and social opportunities.”

“There’s a lot more work to be done and the feedback we now have will help us understand what areas need further investigation.”

The next steps for the project will be to review the feedback in detail and undertake further investigations on the alignment, working towards confirming the route and detailed design.

 

Congested Christchurch

Fresh from saying that there is no solution for congestion, the NZTA are now saying that people from the north of Christchurch should start carpooling to make things better.

Christchurch =- Morning congestion on Christchurch Northern-Motorway

Carpooling is the best option to help alleviate morning commuter congestion on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway according to the results of a new commuter survey.

Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated they would be open to the idea of carpooling or already carpool.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Southern Regional Director Jim Harland, who is leading the team working on short-term solutions to ease congestion, says there will always be peak-hour congestion on the Northern Motorway, even when the new Western Corridor and Northern Arterial are built, because of the continual growth in traffic volumes from the north.

“What everyone needs to do is start thinking about how they travel and consider using alternative transport options to their private car, such as carpooling, which provides more capacity on the network and more predictable journey times.

“Carpooling and public transport are all parts of the transport network and greater use of these will help reduce congestion.”

Those surveyed said they wanted incentives, such as carpooling lanes, to make carpooling easier.

My first thoughts when reading this were, why would anyone bother using PT with the transport situation in Christchurch as it stands currently. That’s because on the whole, people will make a rational choice based on what the options are. Unless you can’t drive or you’re prepared to sacrifice your commute so others can drive there is probably almost no reason to catch a bus. That’s because the buses are going to be caught in exactly the same congestion as everyone else and be slower once stops are taken into account, something those involved in the survey suspected.

Respondents’ perceived public transport as slower than driving and also inconvenient. Only 3% were regular bus users, compared with 90% who drove.

Mr Harland says motorists will continue to experience delays and frustrations if they do not change their travel behaviour, looking at alternative options and travelling at alternative times. 

Environment Canterbury public transport manager David Stenhouse said the northern motorway research provided an interesting insight into commuter behaviour.  “It’s great to get people thinking about how they travel and how their choices affect congestion.

“We’re improving the public transport services in the Waimakariri area to encourage more people to catch a bus to help ease congestion on the Northern Motorway. By catching the bus you can do your bit to reduce congestion.”

Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers encourages North Canterbury road users to consider the options available for travelling into the city during peak hours.

“We still have very high numbers of vehicles, around 85%, with only one person in them travelling into Christchurch in the morning peak hour.

“If more people share their ride or catch a bus, even if it’s only one or two days a week, this will make a difference.”

It seems to me Christchurch really needs to be having a discussion about a future rapid transit network. It seems to be a glaring gap in discussion for the city and the experience from Auckland shows that if we want the people from in and around Christchurch to use PT to avoid congestion then it’s vital they have some high quality services that are realistic options. That means dedicated PT infrastructure so the PT doesn’t get stuck in traffic.

If only there was a transport corridor to the north that could be used to provide an alternative.

Christchurch Northern Rail

You may recall that the regional council along with the NZTA decided to look at a rail option a few years back but they ruled it out because it would cost $10 million, a tiny amount compared to what’s being spent on motorways. There was also a risk that a short term service might prove too popular and people would demand it stay and be improved. Of course if rail continues not to go ahead, as the image at the top of the page shows, there appears to be a huge median in some places along the motorway that could be better utilised.

NZTA on motorways solving congestion

Last week the NZTA posted this video on their YouTube channel as part of a series talking about motorway works in Christchurch.

Not sure I could have said it better myself.

A good highway upgrade

The government made two significant state highway announcements within a week. The first was the announcement of a new motorway in Tauranga which was followed last week by the announcement of a significant $278 million upgrade to the 32km of SH2 between Pokeno and Mangatarata. This project, like the Mangatawhiri Deviation completed in 2008, are examples of exactly the kind of projects I feel the government should have been focusing on for the last eight years instead of some of the massively expensive Roads of National Significance.

This project should significantly improve safety on what is one of the country’s most dangerous roads, so much so that in 2011 the NZTA even lowered the speed limit on all but the new Mangatawhiri deviation to 90km/h. According to the press release from Simon Bridges, there have been 18 fatal crashes causing 34 deaths in the last five years alone – although a quick look at the info on the NZTA website says there were 15 fatal crashes over 10 years (to 2014).

As part of this upgrade three new deviations will be built, west of Mangatawhiri, at Kopuku and at Maramarua. In addition, the road will be widened to three lanes with two of them westbound towards Auckland. They say the upgrades will be designed so that a future a fourth lane could be added if/when it’s needed. Presumably this means also widening the existing Mangatawhiri deviation which was designed with future widening in mind. The NZTA will also install other safety features such as wire rope median and side barriers.

SH2 Maramua Upgrade 1

I’ve written before about how the Mangatawhiri Deviation has been a huge success. Not only did it come in 6 months ahead of time and $2.9 million (6%) under budget. It had a significant impact on safety as this graphic shows.

Mangatawhiri Deviation Crash record

From memory this project – or at least a previous iteration of it – was meant to have been started some years ago but it was put on hold and funding for it was diverted while attention shifted to the RoNS and particularly the Waikato Expressway.

Below are the traffic volumes on the road over the last 20 years. As you can see volumes were relatively flat for much of the last 15 or so years but have picked up a little recently. The NZTA say that on some days with holiday traffic, volumes can top 25,000.

Mangatawhiri Traffic Volumes

The press release from the government is below.

The Government will invest $278 million to upgrade State Highway 2 between Pokeno and the SH25 intersection, Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced today.

Work will begin this year on the design, consents and property purchase for a long-term overhaul of the road that will be carried out in five stages over several years.

The 32 kilometre long stretch of road will be widened to three lanes, with two lanes for traffic heading west towards Auckland. The work will also be future-proofed, enabling the road to become four lanes if needed.

“These upgrades will help ease congestion and improve journey predictability, making a huge difference for the local community, the freight industry and for people travelling north after a weekend on the Coromandel,” Mr Bridges says.

Along with the extra lane, a new roundabout will be built and four interchanges separating state highway and local traffic will be constructed.

“Improving safety on this popular holiday route is a key part of this project. Over the last five years there have been 18 crashes resulting in 34 deaths and serious injuries.

“Evidence tells us the majority of crashes on this stretch of highway are either head-on or where the vehicle runs off the road so median barriers and guard rails will also be installed.

“The long term goal is to reduce death and serious injury crashes by 80 per cent over 20 years.

“We also want to provide safer choices for cyclists and ensure local people have safe access to their homes, schools and businesses,” Mr Bridges says.

Construction is expected to get underway in 2017/18.

I can’t help but think that had this approach been taken with the Puhoi to Warkworth RoNS, much of it could be in place by now and saving lives compared it being 2020 or later depending on when it finally starts construction. This is of course what was proposed with Operation Lifesaver.

 

Another Tauranga motorway approved

Tauranga continues to aspire to the title of mini-Auckland with an announcement from the government on Friday of $520 million for another motorway into the city, the 6.8km Tauranga Northern Link. The funding even includes a money set aside for a future extension of the to be built motorway a further 6km+ to Omokoroa.

Tauranga Northern Link Map

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced a $520 million roading package that will transform State Highway 2 (SH2) between Tauranga and Waihi.

The package includes:

  • The $286 million Tauranga Northern Link (TNL).
  • $85 million worth of safety improvements designed to reduce death and serious injury crashes.
  • Up to $150 million to provide for future traffic growth, paving the way for an upgrade between Omokoroa and Te Puna.

“This is a significant transport investment for Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty area. It will improve safety, reduce congestion and support growth on what is a very busy route, making a noticeable difference for motorists and easing freight movement,” Mr Bridges says.

“It is yet another example of the Government’s focus on increasing economic growth and improving safety through transport investment.

“We know that transport is an enabler of economic activity so we need to continue unlocking key congestion points to get people and freight moving efficiently around the country.”

The TNL is a new 6.8 km highway which will connect Tauranga’s Takitimu Drive Toll Road with SH2 Te Puna.

“The TNL is a long awaited project in the Tauranga community. Last week I attended a public meeting to hear the views of local people and it’s clear there’s a lot of support for getting this project underway.

“Once complete it will reduce traffic through the busy townships of Bethlehem and Te Puna, provide a better commute into the city, and support the Western Bay’s many industries.

“Today I’m also announcing that $150 million has been earmarked for a future extension of the TNL. A business case for extending the TNL from Te Puna to Omokoroa is expected to be completed toward the middle of next decade.

“All up this means the TNL will provide a four lane highway linking Tauranga’s Takitimu Drive Toll Road with SH2 at Omokoroa,” Mr Bridges says.

 

The project isn’t exactly new and a quick search finds it has been around in some form since the early 1990’s and was designated in 2001 so at least the project wasn’t just pulled out of thin air like the Puhoi to Warkworth project was. What surprised me the most about the announcement was the timing. I’ve seen discussion of the project before but it hasn’t been listed in various documents as happening at least within the next few years. It’s not even a project listed on the Bay of Plenty section of the NZTA website.

The daily traffic volumes at the western end of the project at Te Puna are shown below and the road is obviously busier once it gets closer to Tauranga – such as around Bethlehem. They’ve definitely taken a sharp upwards turn in recent years and given Tauranga’s plans to open up more development, especially around Omokoroa I suspect those volumes will increase.

Te Puna Traffic Volumes

While the announcement has been made now, the press release mentions construction won’t actually start till 2018 and the extension obviously some time later. As there’s already a designation the focus till then will be on design but it raises the question of why make such a public statement about it now? The funding for the as yet un-assessed extension also highlights the dramatic difference in playing field that exists with transport in NZ. Public transport, walking/cycling and even local road projects seem to have to jump through huge hoops to get funding but for state highways the cash is handed out without question.

The $436 million for those two bits of motorway can be added to some of the recently completed and currently under construction projects around Tauranga. This includes the $455 million Tauranga Eastern Link, the currently under construction $102 million to grade separate sections of SH2 through Bayfair and the $45 million to build an underpass at Maungatapu. There’s also the $62 million the NZTA recently spent to buy the failing Takitimu Dr (Route K) toll road off the Tauranga City Council.

The one aspect I do think is very good about the announcement is the significant amount of money going towards safety improvements between Te Puna and Waihi. One of the improvements already made a few years ago inspired me to write this post about how we need to see more focus on improving safety and so $85 million is likely to have significant benefits. The map below shows where the focus of that spending will be

Tauranga-Waihi SH2 Full Corridor Map

And this one focuses just on the Te Puna to Omokoroa section

Tauranga - Omokoroa to Te Puna Safety Improvements Map

Draft Preferred future urban networks

Yesterday we saw the feedback on the first consultation from the Transport for Urban Growth piece of work that AT/NZTA are currently undertaking. Now the next more detailed round of consultation has started and they’ve released their draft preferred transport networks. By in large the networks are very close to including most of what was initially consulted on. One thing that they haven’t given any indication on is what the timing will

The websites for each of the three main areas also gives a little bit of information as to how they’ve responded to the feedback received and for each of the key areas there is also a more detailed map which is on the AT website. In all of the maps below the mode/intervention uses the same colour scheme, Red = Rail, Green = Bus, Blue = Road, Gold = Safety improvements.

South

In the south it’s good to see AT specifically mention electrification to Pukekohe as that was something no mention was made of in the earlier consultation. It’s something we can only hope gets the go ahead soon as it seems fairly critical to some of the other parts of the plan for the South including a bunch of new stations and better services. On the roads the massive Mill Rd corridor is set to march on all the way to Pukekohe. The biggest omission from compared to the first consultation seems to be an east-west route from Pukekohe to SH1.

In this transport network, a key focus is increasing access to public transport, with more capacity and a well-connected rapid transit network at its heart. This would include electric trains to Pukekohe, express trains, new stations and rapid transit links, for example between the airport, Manukau, Flat Bush and Botany and a high frequency bus route between Drury and Manukau.

The plan focuses on great access to jobs, town centres and recreation within south Auckland and links to the wider region.

Another key focus for the south would be an extension of the Mill Road corridor from Manukau to Papakura and Drury. This would help improve safety, provide improved access to new growth areas and provide an additional north-south route. Connected to the Mill Road corridor is a new route to Pukekohe to improve safety or reduce congestion on SH22. An interchange with SH1 will also be further investigated at Drury South.

We’ve also identified further work is needed on how better connections between Waikato and Auckland can be provided.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - South

North

The North looks like a much bigger roads fest compared to the with almost all of the proposed roads from the earlier consultation included in this consultation. For PT the busway will be the heart of the system in the area and s being both physically extended by going to Grand Dr but also and with more stations too.

At the heart of the network is the extension of the rapid transit network (RTN) by linking Albany to Dairy Flat, Silverdale, Wainui and Grand Drive.

Additional stations along the RTN would become hubs for extended public transport services into the growth areas and Orewa, providing fast and efficient access to employment, town centres and residential areas.

Dedicated walking and cycling networks linking to public transport hubs would provide a range of options to get to work or for leisure. New and upgraded arterial roads running both eastwest and north-south would improve connections and safety through the area as well.

Capacity would also be increased on State Highway 1 (SH1). An interchange incorporating both Dairy Flat and Penlink will be investigated to see if it would alleviate access from bottlenecks at Silverdale further north.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - North

Northwest

Like the others it appears that almost all of projects from the earlier consultation have made it through to this round. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is AT say they’ll do some more to look at the costs and benefits of extending rail to Huapai – although the website also suggests it could be compared to electric rail.

A key focus of the draft network is on providing high capacity public transport networks to move people efficiently and reliably between the places they want to go. This includes a rapid transport network (RTN) adjacent to the SH16 and SH18 to and from Kumeu, Westgate through to the city and the North Shore. Park and ride facilities are also identified to provide access to these services.

Further investigations are proposed on the extension of electric trains to Huapai to assess benefits and costs. Initial work shows a RTN along SH16 will have faster journey times and serve a wider catchment.

Another key focus is improving the safety and capacity of SH16 north of Westgate and the major arterials that intersect it. To help address congestion as the area grows and keep the Kumeu and Huapai centres as safe, local community-focused environments, an alternative through-route to SH16 is proposed.

A direct motorway to motorway connection between SH16 and SH18, improvements to Brigham Creek Road, and upgrade to the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway and arterial road networks in Whenuapai and Red Hills are also identified. The feasibility of a range of different types of interchanges at Northside Drive and Squadron Drive will also be investigated. Dedicated walking and cycling paths connecting to public transport and existing cycle routes also feature.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - Northwest

TFUG consultation results

You may recall recently the consultation that took place for the piece of work AT/NZTA call Transport for Urban Growth (TFUG). Essentially over 2 Hamilton’s worth of people/homes are expected to be added to the fringes of Auckland in the North, North-west and South over the coming ~30 years. To accommodate that there will need to be significant public investment all forms of infrastructure and the two transport agencies say they are trying to work out what high level transport infrastructure will be needed now so it can be used for future planning and funding processes.

Today the Council’s Development Committee has an item on its agenda looking at the results from the initial consultations. Supposedly this has been fed into the next more detailed stage of consultation due to start tomorrow – but there are no details for that yet. Given how long it normally seems to take for AT to respond to consultation feedback, the whole process has a bit of a pre-determined feel to it.

There are over 160 pages in the consultation report so I’m only going to stick to the high level results. There is a very clear theme throughout the results of people really wanting much of the focus on public transport.

The South

In the South a lot of the focus included the level of use of the rail network and extending Mill Rd potentially all the way to Pukekohe as an alternative North/South road corridor.

TFUG Potential Projects South Auckland

From the 98 submissions there was a strong support for various improvements to PT in the area.

  • Improvements to public transport services in the area were considered highly desirable. In particular there was a call for improvements in rail services, including introduction of express services, extension of the rail network beyond Pukekohe, additional stations along the existing route (eg. at Paerata), further electrification of the network through to Pukekohe and beyond and more park and ride facilities. There was a clear preference to spend money and invest on public transport in the area and rail, rather than bus services, was seen as the key focus.
  • Support for improvements to public transport services came from both residents and businesses.
  • There was also support for improved road connections to reduce congestion on the Southern Motorway, such as by providing an alternative north-south route (eg. to the airport and the west via Weymouth and/or extension of the Mill Road corridor), or widening of the existing Southern Motorway. Reducing travel times was considered the highest priority and an alternative route was preferred as the best way to improve roads to achieve this. Others suggested that increasing rail freight services in the area would reduce the number of trucks needed to move freight by road and in the area, therefore helping to address congestion.
  • While most comments and most comments and feedback focussed on public transport and road networks, there was a small number of comments regarding improvements to walking and cycling facilities in the area, including pedestrian and cycle access and connections to railway stations.
  • Many participants were sceptical that only 20% of morning peak work trips would be further north than Manukau and the Airport trip data collected as part of the consultation suggested the Auckland CBD is a key destination for those living in the south.

One of the interesting features about the consultations was the use of a wallet that allowed people to divvy up $100 of spending across each of the proposed projects. Here are the results.

TFUG Feedback - Spend - South

The North (Silverdale,Wainui), Dairy Flat)

In the north the focus was also on North/South routes with a number suggested along with extending the busway to Silverdale and possibly beyond.

TFUG Potential Network - Dairy Flat-Millwater

Again public transport improvements received the most support from the 100 submissions received. A summary is below.

  • There was a call for improvements to public transport services the area, particularly to bus services. Many people living in the area would prefer to travel by bus and wanted to see bus that were efficient, affordable and well-connected. Specific improvements included more frequent and express services, separate busways and bus lanes, extension of the Northern Busway and local bus feeder services. Increasing at park and ride facilities was identified as a key issue There was a desire to see heavy or light rail in the area and increased ferry services.
  • There was a sense that many participants felt transport networks and infrastructure were behind housing growth and development the area, further contributing to existing traffic issues. Improvements to public transport were seen as key to alleviating some of the current congestion.
  • Recommendations for improvements to road networks focussed on improvements to routes (eg widening State Highway 1, additional on/off-ramps), as well as east-west routes such as Penlink. Safety was also highlighted as an issue on roads in the Dairy Flat area. Strong links to through roads and motorways was considered a key focus for business areas.
  • The Auckland CBD and Albany were key destinations tor people Wing in the Silverdale, Wainui and Dairy Flat areas.
  • There was notable support for improvements to walking and cycling facilities in the area, such as separate cycle lanes and widening of roads to make them safer for cyclists and footpaths in places where people are currently forced to walk along main highways

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - North

The North (Warkworth)

In Warkworth the focus of the consultation was almost exclusively on a range of roading projects.

TFUG Potential Network - Warkworth

Warkworth bucked the trend of the other consultations and was the only one where people wanted the biggest focus to be on road improvements. Given the town is much more disconnected from Auckland than say Pukekohe, this isn’t all that surprising. A summary of the findings from the 169 submissions received.

  • For this part of north, improvements to roads in the area was the highest priority, In particular. participants wanted to see improvements to the Hill Street and reduced congestion generally, particularly in Warkworth itself and on Matakana Road. Addressing particularly around the Hill Street intersection. was considered a matter of urgency and one of the main ways to make the area a great place to live. This was considered a priority by both residents and businesses. East-west were considered a lower priority.
  • Recommendations to address in the area Western Collector bypass, the Matakana Link to access to Elizabeth Street, changes to traffic light phasing and/or the intersection a roundabout instead. A Matakana Link Road extension in particular had a hotel level of support from locals in this part of the north.
  • Public transport improvements were considered a priority, but secondary to improvements to road networks. Primarily, residents called tor improvements to bus services (such as regular bus services, new bus stations and bus service connections to the Northern Busway) and adequate park and facilities.
  • Good walking and connections were also desired by participants. This included provision of footpaths in areas not currently served by them, wider and better quality footpaths and cycle paths.
  • The Auckland CBD is a key destination for those living in the Warkworth area, followed by local trips within Warkworth and Abany. There was a preference for making journeys by car or bus.

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - Warkworth

The North-West

The Northwest was different to the others in that it presented quite a few potential PT options and of course some road upgrades too to SH16 beyond Westgate.

TFUG Potential Network - Northwest

Like in the South and around Silverdale, the biggest response from the 254 submitters was for better PT as the highest priority. That trains to Huapai came out as the top request doesn’t surprise me as it’s something that sounds good as a soundbite.

  • Public transport improvements are considered the key priority in the north west. In particular, participants called for re-introduction of a commuter train service from Kumeu/Huapai (and potentially as far as Waimauku and Helensville) to the CBD. Participants wanted to see a train service that was frequent, reliable and fast, with a timetable that met resident needs (eg. at convenient times tor commuters to the CBD). There was also considerable support for improved bus services, including express bus services and shorter journey times, separate busways and bus lanes, extension of the Northwestern busway to Kumeu/Huapai and bus services to locations such as Riverhead. Re-introduction of rail and improvements to public transport generally received support from both residents and businesses.
  • Alongside public transport improvements, participants wanted to see accompanying park and ride facilities with sufficient capacity.
  • Secondary to public transport improvements, improvements to road networks in the area was considered a priority to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.
    Recommendations included extending the North Western Motorway, widening the motorway and/or State Highway 16, bypassing Kumeu/Huapai, a direct connection between State Highway 16 and State 18 and improvements to intersections (eg. at the Coatseville-Riverhead Highway) to reduce congestion and improve safety.
  • Many participants mentioned that improvements to in the area needed to happen urgently, given that infrastructure is already to cope and the population the area is to grow
  • Improvements to walking and cycling facilities, particularly in the Whenuapai area.
  • The Auckland CBD was the key in the area, followed by Albany and Westgate/North West Mall. There was a preference for wanting to make journeys by train or bus

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - North-west

It’ll be interesting to see what the next stage of consultation includes.

Waterview March Update

It’s been a few months since we last posted an update on what is currently the country’s single biggest transport project. Here are some of the recent updates.

The tunnel boring machine has been dismantled and shipped back to its manufacturer. The biggest piece moved was the main drive which drove the cutter head and weighed 270 tonnes.

It went on the back of a 48 axle double-width trailer pulled by 3 tractor units with another one behind pushing to give it an extra bit of grunt.

The convoy made its way from Maioro Street off ramp, along Sandringham Road and turning on to Balmoral Road and heading through Mt Eden and Grafton to the port.

And some of the recent aerial photos of the project.

Looking south-east with the motorway carving through former park land

Waterview Aerial - 2016-02 - 2

The expansive Waterview interchange continues to grow. Those ramps to the city are likely to put even greater pressure on the motorway from Waterveiw through to the city at peak times.

Waterview Aerial - 2016-02 - 8

 

The Hendon Ave bridge for pedestrians and cyclists continues to be built.

Waterview Aerial - 2016-02 - 5

Eric Armishaw Reserve Boardwalk under construction

Waterview Aerial - 2016-02 - 9

All of the spoil taken out of the tunnels has gone to fill up the old Wiri Quary as shown below. It will become new industrial land. You can also see ATs train depot in the bottom left corner where they’ve even placed a logo on the roof. Not quite sure of the value of advertising to those in planes flying overhead.

Waterview Aerial - 2016-02 - 1

 

Lastly here are the most recent timelapse videos from the project

I’m looking forward to end of the “complete the motorways” mantra we’ve heard for so long – not that I actually believe the NZTA or road/construction lobby believe this is the motorway’s being completed.

A Seapath to ride

Yesterday the NZTA (and AT) published and later pulled down – although we already saved a copy – a newsletter giving details about Seapath, the walking and cycling route alongside SH1 between Northcote and Esmonde Rd and importantly linking into Skypath. In the newsletter, the NZTA and AT call the project a critical link as it will combine with other projects in the future to improve options for walking and cycling on the North Shore and I suspect it will be very popular, much like the Northwestern cycleway is. The NZTA’s website suggests the project will cost an estimated $17-21 million.

The project actually started life as a result of the work done for Skypath in response to the complaints from some of the Northcote Residents. Here’s how they describe it.

During our consultation phase in 2012 – 2013, the Northcote Residents Association advised SkyPath shouldn’t proceed until we had a walking & cycling network link to Takapuna. Good idea we thought – so we developed the link, called it “SeaPath” and provided our SeaPath report to NZTA and AT. NZTA then commissioned further investigation and prepared a preferred option.

The project is one of the ones the NZTA said would benefit from a rule change last year allowing the agency to designate cycleways by themselves.

Like many other cycleways, Seapath will be a 3m shared path and the agencies say three route options were considered:

  • a landward route on the western side of the motorway
  • a coastal edge route on the eastern side of the motorway
  • a seaward route on a boardwalk on the eastern side of the motorway

They say the landward route is the preferred option and one of the advantages of it is it would provide easier connections to other local routes.

Seapath March-16 Route

click to enlarge

Interestingly the NZTA say another reason for the route selected was due to the it minimising the impacts on Shoal Bay which is home endangered species like Dotterels.

Shoal Bay and the surrounding area has a number of important ecological, cultural and historical characteristics.

Shoal Bay is a natural heritage location of regional significance and is home to extensive mangroves, saltmarsh and shellbank communities. It is also a key feeding and roosting area for migratory and coastal wading bird species including Oystercatchers, Caspian tern and NZ Dotterel.

It’s funny how that same concern doesn’t seem to manifest in the plans for an additional harbour crossing – which based on the last report envisages significant reclamation in the area

AWHC reclaimation needed

I suspect it’s the desire to plough more lanes through the area as part of an additional crossing that is actually the key reasons why the NZTA want it on the western side of the motorway.

That’s a shame as a seaward path like proposed alongside the motorway between Petone and Ngauranga in Wellington could be fantastic.

Wellington Petone to Ngauranga cycleway 1

Below shows the wider network and how Seapath would fit in.

Seapath March-16 connections

Overall this is a good project and it’s positive to see it being progressed. When combined with Skypath will really help in generating change and providing new options for people to travel. With them Takapuna would be 10km by bike from heart of the CBD. I’m already looking forward to both projects being completed.

As this would also help in providing options for people on bikes to avoid Northcote Point I wonder if it will help in the environment court mediation Skypath are currently involved in.

I understand the NZTA will be conducting some consultation on the route, possibly even starting today.

Patiki Cycleway Underpass Open

On Friday another piece in the upgraded NW cycleway finally opened, the Patiki Rd underpass. The old bridge over the motorway on-ramp was narrow and with tight corners that was far from ideal, especially if there were other people walking or on bikes going in the opposite direction.

NW Cycleway - Old Patiki cycle bridge

As part of the motorway upgrade the NZTA have replaced the bridge with a wonderful swooping underpass and so on Saturday I went to try it out resulting in the videos below. There is obviously still landscaping to come but already it is far better than what was there before.

This follows the opening of the fantastic underpass at Te Atatu Rd a few months ago and the much improved causeway section. The section from Te Atatu to Henderson Creek will also open soon too.

Te Atatu Rd Underpass

It’s such a shame that the NZTA decided not to take the opportunity to do the same thing at St Lukes Rd, a decision I think they’ll eventually regret.