Quietening Ellerslie

News yesterday that the NZTA have confirmed they’ll add noise barriers to the motorway through Ellerslie.

Ellerslie residents suffering from motorway noise are in for relief with confirmation new barriers will be built along a section of State Highway 1.

The NZ Transport Agency is also investigating noise barriers for other sections of urban motorways in Auckland.

Work on the Ellerslie barriers will begin by the middle of the year, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said.

“I’m confident that the installation of these noise barriers will significantly reduce the disturbance caused to residents by traffic noise from the motorway. They’re a good solution that will make a noticeable difference.”

NZTA could not say exactly where the Ellerslie barriers will be built, as designs are still to be finalised.

However, residents on Findlay and Hewson Streets, near the Ellerslie Train Station, have been lobbying for action on motorway noise.

The Ellerslie Residents Association (ERA) has pushed for sound barriers, saying noise has increased as traffic worsens and since the completion of the fourth northbound lane.

Wow an extra lane made noise worse, whoever would’ve thought.

There’s not much to stop noise between the motorway and nearby houses

Here are a few thoughts I’ve had about this:

  • It’s good that the NZTA are finally going to mitigate some of the impacts the motorway has on the surrounding area. They did add some short noise barriers between the train station and the motorway as part of the recent motorway widening but I’m not a regular user of the station so I’m keen to hear the thoughts of those who are as to the impact they have or haven’t had.
  • This isn’t the only place that could really do with some noise barriers. The articles say they’re looking at other areas too but really, shouldn’t all urban motorways have at least sound barriers as even the most basic mitigation.
  • It’s interesting that this was announced by Simon Bridges and not the NZTA, highlighting that this was a political decision. This is no surprise as we’ve seen in other situations that the NZTA will often try and do as little as possible to mitigate the significant impacts of urban motorways and tend to only do so when they are either upgrading the road or if really forced to do so.
  • Radio NZ reports that the barriers will cost $6 million. I wonder how much it would cost to properly mitigate the noise along the rest of the motorway network.
  • Noise barriers are really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mitigation we need and how long will it be before we need to go further. In particular severance issues can be significant in some places

Where are the locations you think should be next on the list for noise barriers?

Ellerslie Motorway noise to reduce

Back in 2012 the NZTA cut back the back the platform at the Ellerslie train station by 2m to give themselves enough space to build a fourth northbound lane from Ellerslie Panmure Highway just north of the Main Highway bridge.  The NZTA are currently working on stage 2 which is the creation of that lane.

I haven’t been on the Ellerslie Platform for a few years but I was previously a daily user and remember just how noisy it can be with the motorway so close and exposed to the station – and the noise is only likely to get worse with an additional lane. As such I was curious as to whether the NZTA planned to do anything reduce the noise for passengers waiting for a train so I asked the NZTA. Their reply is below

The project will include anti-distraction screens with noise reduction properties. The product is Plexiglass Soundstop® and will be 1.0m high on top of the TL6 barrier. The TL6 barrier is 1.45m high from road surface. Giving a total height of 2.45m from road level. The length of the screens is 435m from CH250 to Main Highway Bridge (CH685). The Plexiglass Soundstop is 15mm thick (same as Nelson Street) but will be transparent Midnight Blue in color with vertical black bird deterrent markings.

Acoustic engineers have completed a model of before and after predictions, specifically looking at the noise changes at the platform. Their conclusion was “ The proposed 2.5m barrier between SH1 and Ellerslie Station is predicted to achieve a noticeable reduction in road traffic noise level for patrons waiting on the platform.”

Recently they also uploaded the video below giving a rough idea of what the blue noise wall will look like.

Once complete it will hopefully make waiting for a train at Ellerslie a bit more pleasant.

Sod Turning Day: Eastern Path and Southern Motorway

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

Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path

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

Eastern Path Section 4

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Sections of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path 1

 

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

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

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

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

Southern Motorway Works

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

Southern Corridor Stages

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

Southern Corridor History