Archive | Roads

Fulton Hogan drops Huntly quarry from Stevenson purchase, Commerce Commission happy

The Commerce Commission has closed its investigation into roading & infrastructure construction company Fulton Hogan Ltd’s acquisition of Stevenson Group Ltd’s construction materials business, saying its concerns with the transaction have been addressed.

Fulton Hogan agreed to buy Stevenson’s construction materials business in May, intending to take full ownership of Stevenson’s 2 quarries & 4 concrete plants, transport, laboratory services and associated plant & equipment.

Fulton Hogan didn’t seek clearance under the commission’s merger regime, and the commission opened an investigation in June, primarily due to concerns the acquisition could reduce competition for the production & supply of aggregates (granular rocks, gravel or sand typically used in roading & construction) in Auckland & North Waikato. Fulton Hogan & Stevenson both own & operate quarries in Auckland & Huntly.

Commission deputy chair Sue Begg said yesterday Fulton Hogan had since agreed not to acquire Stevenson’s Huntly quarry as part of the transaction and it had now been formally excluded from the purchase.

“The decision to remove the Huntly quarry from the transaction addresses our concerns in this case. We are satisfied that Fulton Hogan’s purchase of Stevenson’s Auckland quarry assets is unlikely to substantially lessen competition, given the presence of other competitors in this market, and we have now closed our investigation.”

Stevenson’s focus has shifted to the development of its Drury quarry & land across to Auckland’s Southern Motorway, where it had 361ha of rural & quarry land rezoned in 2013 for a mix of industrial & business development.

Since then, Kiwi Property Group Ltd has bought 51ha at Drury to create a town centre, and Karaka & Drury Ltd (Charles Ma) has begun work on 2 residential developments at Drury, the first for 68ha and the second for 85ha, set to yield about 2700 homes plus a village centre.

Commerce Commission case register

Earlier stories:
15 June 2018: Commission opens investigation into Fulton Hogan’s Stevenson acquisition
31 October 2016: Work starts on 3 striking special housing area projects
24 August 2016: Work set to start after fast approval for Auranga special housing area at Drury
30 August 2013: Drury South industrial area plan change & MUL extension approved
10 September 2017: Second round for Auranga precinct confirms Drury as major growth centre

Attribution: Commission & Fulton Hogan releases.

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Penlink prospect gets real

Penlink, a proposal dating back to the 1980s start to development of Gulf Harbour at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, is an integral feature of the urban development of the Hibiscus Coast, 30-40km north of downtown Auckland.

Image above: The Auckland Transport/NZ Transport Agency map of the north-eastern infrastructure plan. Penlink is dotted line 3 at right.

Gulf Harbour has progressed, thousands more houses have been built on the peninsula, new business areas have sprung up at Silverdale, at the start of the peninsula, and the Millwater subdivision has spread from there across to State Highway 1.

But that integral link – once to have been 2 lanes each way from Redvale, across Weiti Forest land and over the Weiti River to Stanmore Bay – was again deferred in June, when Auckland Council pushed it back to 2028 in its long-term plan. It also shrank from 4 to 2 lanes.

The 7km Penlink road is consented and would reduce, by about 50,000 vehicles/day, the nearly 130,000 vehicles/day that travel through the nearby Silverdale business area to get to-from the motorway.

The one concession to the rising traffic congestion that has been a consequence of deferred action has been to introduce peak-hour use of the median strip at the start of the main peninsula road to double main-direction flow.

3-year campaign by Barnett

Enter Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, who has campaigned for 2 years to get Penlink built, after an approach from the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board.

Mr Barnett won an assurance from Transport Minister Phil Twyford in April that, if money could be found outside the coffers of the Government & Auckland Council, the toll road could be built.

Last Friday, Mr Barnett said it could be done: “An unsolicited bid by an international group to establish a joint venture with a NZ construction company to undertake the Penlink toll road project as a BOOT – Build, Own, Operate, Transfer – has been lodged with the NZ Transport Agency.

“The offer is to provide the majority of the estimated $400 million capital needed to build a 4-lane tolled Penlink road – including bridge over the Weiti River, busway, cycleway & possibly park-&-ride – recovering all revenue on an extended concession and transferring back to Auckland Council for free at the end of the concession.”

The proposal is from China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Railway Group Ltd, which in turn is a subsidiary of China Railway Engineering Corp, a company listed in Hong Kong & Shanghai and controlled by the Chinese Government.

In June, Mr Barnett wrote: “It’s crazy that Auckland Council can give a low priority to a project that has one of Auckland’s highest benefit:cost assessments – 3.5 for a project costing $348 million – meaning that for every dollar spent it will generate nearly $3.50 in economic benefit.”

“It shows we have a flawed system. Here we have a new government wanting more public transport, walking & cycling, but then goes for a 2-lane option. Our recent survey which government & council are well aware of shows that the public want a 4-lane road with a public transport option.

“Meanwhile the announcement bringing forward Penlink has already fuelled property development in Silverdale & on the Peninsula, with a number of long-delayed apartment projects towards Gulf Harbour now underway.

“And gridlock on Hibiscus Coast Highway continues to get worse, with 10km traffic queues between the interchange with State Highway 1 & Orewa and also along the peninsula to the Whangaparaoa shopping centre.

“Construction & engineering consultancies have advised me that there is a construction void in the market; they have little or no work and which ‘ready to go’ Penlink is ideal to fill.”

The next move is up to the NZ Transport Agency.

The agency & Auckland Transport have had Penlink in their sights for years, and produced a presentation on their websites last year showing its role in diverting traffic away from Silverdale.

Chamber of Commerce, Penlink page
Auckland Transport, Penlink presentation January 2017
NZ Transport Agency, Supporting growth – delivering transport networks, Silverdale, Wainui & Dairy Flat

Disclosure: I live on the peninsula, right where Penlink would start.

Attribution: Chamber of Commerce releases, NZTA & Auckland Transport.

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Transport agency sets out project list

Published 3 September 2018

Transport and Housing & Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford – who’s also Housing & Urban Development Minister – said on Friday a record $5.7 billion transport investment over the next 3 years “will get Auckland moving and deliver a safer, better connected & more resilient transport system”.

Mr Twyford’s comments accompanied the NZ Transport Agency’s publication of details of the planned programmes of investment in transport around the country, totalling $16.9 billion over the 3 years.

Auckland projects make up the bulk of the story below, followed by Northland, Waikato & the rest of the national programme.

There’s a lot of it – some brief detail of specific projects, and a number of lists to skim through.

If such an array can be summed up it’s this: Major road spending reduced, more attention away from large metropolitan areas, metro focus on public transport as best option to reduce congestion.

Dollars are generally separated from initial project mentions and I haven’t got them together again. Most of the relevant dollar figures are toward the bottom of this story.

The details are set out in the 2018-21 national land transport programme. The funding will be generated through 3 channels:

  • $12.9 billion from the National Land Transport Fund, generated through fuel excise, road user charges & other revenue sources
  • $3.4 billion from local government, generated through rates & Auckland’s regional fuel tax, and
  • $547 million in other Crown investment.

Mr Twyford said the $5.7 billion for Auckland was 23% more than under the 2015-18 plan and 44% more than under the 2012-15 plan.

The NZ Transport Agency’s forecast for Auckland access infrastructure spending over the next 3 years includes:

  • Maintenance & operations $1.2 billion
  • Public transport $1.9 billion
  • Walking & cycling $149 million
  • Targeted at safety, 15%

Mr Twyford emphasised road safety, along with alternatives for reducing congestion other than building more roads, although road-building will continue: “We are putting a much stronger focus on public transport, and making record investments in road safety, local roads, walking & cycling.

“Safety is a top priority for the Government, and $875 million will be spent on programmes & projects in Auckland that will save lives. This will include revamping intersections to stop collisions, installing median barriers in high risk areas and increasing road policing.

“We are committed to delivering a rapid transit network for the city so we can unlock critical housing & urban development opportunities, and give people better access to jobs, health, education & recreation. With the $459 million set aside for the development of rapid transit and $266 million for transitional rail, we’re investing in light rail to Mangere, extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.

“To ease congestion and make Auckland a healthier place to live, $1.9 billion will be invested in public transport, a 56% increase from 2015-18, and $149 million for walking & cycling, a 30% increase from 2015-18. This will create great walking & cycling routes in the city, including the SeaPath walking & cycling connection between Northcote Pt & Esmonde Rd, the SkyPath project across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path.

“The significant $1.5 billion investment in state highways in the city reflects the Government’s continued commitment to this vital part of our transport system. The Northern Corridor project will complete the motorway connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre & the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18km extension of the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) from Puhoi to Warkworth.”

The big public transport projects hinge on upgrades to the rail network, much of it an extension of the network spreading out from the city rail link (listed starting in the south):

  • Papakura-Pukekohe electrification
  • Puhinui bus-rail interchange
  • Wiri-Quay Park corridor improvements
  • City centre-Mangere light rail
  • City centre-north-west light rail

Other corridor improvements:

  • Southern corridor (road & rail)
  • Southern & eastern airport access, State Highways 20 & 20B
  • Ameti (Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative) eastern busway
  • Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared bike-foot path
  • City centre bus improvements
  • Skypath over harbour bridge
  • Seapath around Northcote foreshore
  • State Highway 16, Brigham Creek-Waimauku safety improvements
  • Northern corridor
  • Ara Tuhono, Puhoi-Warkworth 18km highway extension construction

The transport agency said Auckland’s population was expected to grow by 300,000 over the next 10 years and was forecast to reach 2.3 million by 2043 – an increase greater than the rest of New Zealand’s population growth combined and requiring 400,000 new homes.

The mantra from the agency is this: “For Auckland to be successful, it needs a safe, reliable & integrated transport system, where people have choices about how they move around.

“The national land transport programme 2018-21 focuses on ensuring people have improved choice for how they access employment, education & services, today & tomorrow. This means continuing to develop strategic connections for public transport, private vehicles, walking & cycling into & across the busy urban centre, and shaping more liveable communities with appealing transport links that bring neighbourhoods together.”

The agency said one outcome from the Auckland transport alignment project between Auckland Council & the Government (ATAP) was “a new collaborative culture for prioritising the projects & initiatives that will deliver the best outcomes for Auckland. Together with its local government partners at Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, the Transport Agency is working to ensure the city grows in a smart way, with new communities being safely & effectively connected by a range of transport choices.

“Central to this is the need for a rapid transit network to unlock critical housing & urban development opportunities, giving communities better access to jobs, health, education & recreation.

“The project to deliver light rail between the city centre & Mangere is a first for New Zealand that will provide a modern, integrated public transport system with seamless connections. This is an opportunity to create a great transport system that can be part of the fabric of the city and can improve people’s lives, through transformational projects & initiatives that leave a legacy for future generations.

“The national land transport programme will invest in the infrastructure & operation of the public transport network as patronage continues to grow. This includes extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.

“Key corridors around the city will continue to have strategic importance, especially as the city grows & changes. The Northern Corridor improvements project will complete the connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor Improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre & the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18km extension of the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) from Puhoi to Warkworth.

“These investments will help to make Auckland a better place to live, work, visit & raise a family by providing safer transport choices, better access & a transport system that is easy to use.”

Rapid transit a network – not a single line

The agency makes it clear that rapid transit is intended to be more than a single light rail line down Dominion Rd and on to the airport, but a network, which started with the Northern Busway in 2008.

“The national land transport programme 2018-21 will invest in expanding Auckland’s rapid transit network. Moving forward, light rail is being investigated for several key routes. The Transport Agency is leading the delivery of the light rail programme. It is working in partnership with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport & the Hobsonville Land Co Ltd to give people more choice about how they travel and to support the creation of more accessible communities.

“The city centre-Mangere corridor will be light rail, and largely unaffected by road traffic & congestion. It will likely have fewer stops than current bus services, but provide a step change in capacity and more frequent, reliable services to improve access to 2 of the biggest employment areas in Auckland. Residents in neighbourhoods along the route, including the city centre, Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill, Onehunga & Mangere will benefit from better connections & amenities.

“Investment from the national land transport programme will also progress work on a second new rapid transit corridor to improve access to the growing north-western suburbs. This will provide a critical connection for these suburbs to provide a high capacity, frequent & reliable public transport service.

“The wider plan is for an integrated rapid transit network. For example, the Auckland Airport area will have more options to travel between the airport, the city centre & the eastern suburbs.”

The agency said its Southwest Gateway programme would build on the investment from the last 3-year transport plan to improve access to the airport & surrounding areas, including Airport-Botany rapid transit and 20Connect (referring to State Highways 20 & 20B, a programme intended to improve journey reliability and provide more travel choices between the airport & surrounding areas).

“Improvements may include bus priority along State Highway 20B to Puhinui rail station, an upgrade of the station, improved capacity & connections along State Highways 20 20A & 20B, interchange upgrades & rapid transit between the airport & Botany.”

Connecting communities as the city grows

The Transport Agency said its projects on Auckland’s public transport, road, walking & cycling networks were “increasingly integrated & creating a safe, connected a system that offers great transport choices”.

It said much of Auckland’s strategic road transport network was complete, but the agency was working to create targeted improvements at the same time as it prepares for the networks that will be needed to connect growth areas.

“In Auckland’s south, the Southern Corridor improvements project will deliver the widening of the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) between Manukau & Papakura. The State Highway 1 Papakura-Bombay project will begin work to provide a third lane in each direction between Papakura & Drury, aiming to improve journey reliability, safety & network resilience.

“On the North Shore, the Northern Corridor improvements will see substantial progress (estimated completion 2022), completing the final section of the Western Ring Route and providing a new continuous motorway link between the Northern & Upper Harbour Motorways. Improvements along the Lake Rd corridor will provide a better corridor between Devonport & Takapuna.

“In Auckland’s west, improvements will be made to Lincoln Rd to accommodate additional transit/bus lanes, intersection & safety improvements and footpath widening.”

The agency has established the Supporting Growth programme to investigate, plan & deliver the transport services needed to support future urban growth areas over the next 30 years: “Through this collaborative programme with local government, the national land transport programme will invest in the initial preferred network that has been identified, including the Matakana link road connection between Matakana & State Highway 1 near Warkworth.

“The Transport Agency will continue a staged programme of route protection processes, and future delivery of projects will then follow in line with the Auckland transport alignment project’s priorities & the release of new land for growth.”

Improving walking & cycling

The agency said 38% of Aucklanders rode bikes this year – over 518,000 people now cycling: “The walking & cycling programme will be strategically planned & delivered to achieve maximum impact for short trips to the city centre, public transport interchanges, schools and local & metropolitan centres. A new footpaths regional programme will construct new & widened footpaths.

“A number of key infrastructure projects will enable more active ways for people to move safely & easily. SkyPath & SeaPath are key links in Auckland’s walking & cycling network which will both be delivered by the Transport Agency, enabling project efficiencies & improved co-ordination. There will be investment to progress the SeaPath project, a shared path between Esmonde Rd & the Auckland Harbour Bridge, as well as SkyPath, a shared path across the bridge itself. Work will continue on the Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path, and investigations will begin into a Manukau Harbour crossing dedicated to walking & cycling (to replace the old Mangere bridge).”

Enhancing public transport

Auckland’s public transport users are making about 90 million trips/year on buses, trains & ferries, the highest patronage recorded in the city.

The transport plan will continue to invest in Auckland’s public transport network, with new electric trains to provide for growth and reduce crowding that would otherwise occur. The rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe will be electrified, a third main line will be added between Westfield & Wiri and the Westfield rail junction will be upgraded to provide better separation of passenger & freight services.

A programme to improve the performance of the city’s rail network includes an upgrade of the Onehunga line to accommodate higher frequency services & longer trains. The works also include progressive improvement & removal of road/rail level crossings to better manage safety risks, allow for more train services & reduce road congestion.

The agency will invest in city centre bus improvements (with Auckland Transport). They include bus priority lanes along Wellesley St and a new Learning Quarter bus interchange. In the downtown area, there will be new bus interchanges on Quay St East and Lower Albert St in conjunction with the City Rail Link & Auckland Council’s downtown projects.

The Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative (Ameti) will deliver new dedicated busways & cycleways to improve access & safety, unlocking housing development opportunities. Over the next 3 years work will focus on the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga, including the Reeves Rd flyover.

The Northern Corridor improvements will deliver an extension of the successful Northern Busway to the Albany park-&-ride, running in both directions along the eastern side of the Northern Motorway. A new station is also proposed to be added at Rosedale.

There will also be new & expanded park-&-ride facilities, completion of the future ferry strategy for Auckland and redevelopment & construction of a new downtown ferry terminal.

More resilient & efficient

A key strategic approach of ATAP is to make better use of the existing network, and to explore new opportunities to get more out of what is already in place: “This means looking at the whole Auckland transport system and understanding the way people want to interact with it, as well as a programme of optimisation to improve the efficiency & reliability of people’s journeys.”

The agency said new technology was opening up opportunities to do this: “Transport Agency investment in the intelligent transport systems programme will use emerging technologies to better manage congestion, improve safety and influence travel demand. The network optimisation programme will provide a package of targeted small-to-medium-scale infrastructure projects to optimise routes through synchronisation of traffic signals, optimising road layout, dynamic traffic lanes & managing traffic restrictions. Another key initiative is the bus route priority phase 1, which involves implementation of bus priority measures along the frequent service network to improve capacity & speed.”

While the agency said its Auckland Transport Operations Centre was able to effectively manage incidents & emergencies, there’s a programme to strengthen its capabilities to reduce disruption & delay: “Core technology upgrades will support & enhance systems such as Journey Planner, web & mobile applications, asset management, CCTV & network upgrades to improve performance, resilience & safety of customers.”

As the climate changes, the agency will investigate how to address the impacts of sea level rise on Tamaki Drive, and improve the resilience of state highway & local road networks.

Investment highlights:

The wide array of budgets includes money under Te Tupu Ngatahi Supporting Growth Alliance collaborative programme, to confirm & protect transport networks needed to support the development of new urban growth areas over the next 30 years. Projects (including those under the alliance):

Ameti improvements, $240 million
Northern Corridor improvements, $500 million
State Highway 16, Brigham Creek-Waimauku safe system enhancement, $67.2 million
Dome Valley north of Warkworth, safety improvements, $33 million
Matakana link road connection $46 million
State Highway 1 Papakura-Bombay, $140 million
SeaPath, $31 million
SkyPath, $67 million
Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path, $56.6 million
Third main line between Westfield & Wiri and upgrade of Westfield rail junction to provide better separation of passenger & freight services, $119 million
Lincoln Rd, $68 million

Northland, $460 million total – $350 million national fund, $109 million local government:

Northland projects include providing funding for an investigation into the opportunities to carry more freight in the region by rail, and enable the completion of improvements to State Highway 1 through Whangarei.

Waikato, $1.6 billion total – $1.27 billion national fund, $270 million local government, $59 million in direct Crown funding:

Completion of Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, $235 million
Mt Messenger bypass on State Highway 3, $109 million
Local road improvements, $164 million (more than doubled)
Public transport, $75 million, including funding to explore an inter-regional rail commuter service between Hamilton & Auckland

National programme, $16.9 billion:

Regional roads $5.8 billion, up $600 million, reversing the focus of the last 3 years on big-city projects
Metro roading, $5 billion
Regional non-roading projects to improve freight connections to ports, airports & distribution centres, $300 million
Public transport, rapid transit & rail, $4 billion
Walking & cycling, $390 million (including SkyPath & Seapath)
State highway projects, $3.5 billion, maintenance $2.2 billion.

NZTA, 31 August 2018: $16.9 billion investment in the future of NZ
NZTA, 31 August 2018: National land transport programme, 2018-21
NLTP regional summaries
Auckland land transport plan summary

Earlier stories:
29 June 2018: Cabinet approves 10-year transport spend, and Selwood highlights its inefficiency
19 January 2018: Collins raises scare about “road tax” diversion, but government fund already $½ billion in red
Attribution: Twyford releases, NZ Transport Agency.

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Collins raises scare about “road tax” diversion, but government fund already $½ billion in red

Former Cabinet Minister Judith Collins, now the National Opposition’s transport spokesperson, raised a scare this week that the new government would divert National Land Transport Fund money from major road projects to rail.

2 things she neglected to mention:

1, while the fund’s income comes largely (but not entirely) from road users, it has always referred to its “land transport” programme rather than to “roads”.

2, it will be a long time before the fund has any money to spend on anything. Its annual reports for the last 2 years disclose that the fund’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $497 million at June 2016, rising to a $528 million deficit at June 2017.

It had budgeted for a $40 million surplus at June 2017.

The fund’s 3 biggest spends in the last financial year were on the accelerated Auckland transport programme ($236 million), public-private partnerships (for highway development, $557 million) & Tauranga’s eastern link toll road ($107 million).

The fund’s income is derived from “all revenue from fuel excise duty, road user charges, motor vehicle registration & licensing fees, revenues from Crown appropriations, management of Crown land interest, and tolling”.

The fund uses this income to manage the funding of the road policing programme, the national land transport programme & activities such as transport planning.

The fund’s last annual report says: “The National Land Transport Fund has a negative general funds balance due to the programmes that were accelerated and current funding was sourced from the Crown. The funding received has been recognised as long-term payables, which are not due until 2-27 years from balance date.

“The fund has the option to slow down expenditure on the national land transport programme, or utilise the short-term borrowing facility of $250 million if required to meet obligations as they fall due in the short term.”

Congestion issues

Auckland – a region where traffic grinds to a halt daily – has a serious, and growing, campaign to get more people to commute by rail, reducing road traffic, but it still has to work out how to handle freight much more efficiently.

The biggest proposal for improving freight movement, the East-West Link through Penrose & Onehunga, won consent from a board of inquiry in November, confirmed by its report & final decision on 21 December. But, by then, the incoming government had canned the project.

Collins on Labour’s “pet” obsession

Ms Collins said in a release on Monday the new government’s transport minister, Phil Twyford, “has confirmed the government is considering diverting taxes paid by motorists who want better roads to rail instead, while insisting to media this won’t happen.

“This is an important principle, adhered to by successive governments, ensuring the specific taxes paid by motorists are invested in newer, safer & better roads – helping keep New Zealanders connected & safe. Road users pay taxes which are directly returned to them.

“But this now appears under threat, because of the Labour Party’s obsession with light rail in Auckland. Mr Twyford has written to stakeholders saying a number of changes to the government policy statement (GPS) on land transport are being considered. Among the proposals is ‘exploring how rail investment is incorporated within the GPS & the National Land Transport Fund’.

“This is in spite of his office telling media last week that funding for road upgrades would not be redirected to rail.

“In his rush to erroneously claim that a number of roading projects aren’t under threat because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland rail, Mr Twyford has been saying different things to different people.

“This desperate grab for more taxes is the result of this free-spending government realising how much it’s going to cost to build its pet rail line from Auckland’s cbd to the airport – so it’s looking to divert funding from regional roads as a result.

“The National Land Transport Fund is paid for by road users to be invested in improving New Zealand’s roading network and it should remain that way. The Government needs to check its priorities and ensure the taxes paid by road users are invested back in the roads they are using.

“Last week, National launched a series of petitions aimed at saving those regional roads that the Government is looking to slash funding for. Given this duplicity from the Government, I want to again encourage everyone to sign the petitions to save our roads,” Ms Collins said.

Twyford signalled his intention

Mr Twyford wrote in a column for Contractor magazine last week: “To achieve our vision for transport, change is necessary. I am interested in how we can best use existing funding tools – like the National Land Transport Fund & the Government Policy Statement (GPS) – to support a more multi-modal approach.

“The traditional way in which we finance & fund infrastructure needs to change if we are going to address the multiple challenges of urban growth, replacing ageing assets, meeting higher environmental standards & improving resilience. We believe we need to be smarter about how we use the Government’s balance sheet.”

Mr Twyford wrote that the challenges of population & freight growth in the “golden triangle” of Auckland-Bay of Plenty-Waikato “will not be solved solely by investment in the roading network. All modes can be complementary to each other.

“For example, the Government is committed to implementing a rapid transit system for Auckland, which will include light rail from the cbd to the airport and to west Auckland. Such an investment will not only make it easier for people to get around town, but it will also free up our roading network to improve freight efficiency.”

The National petitions

National MPs began launching their petitions a fortnight ago.

Whangarei & Northland MPs Shane Reti & Matt King’s petition calls for the Auckland-Whangarei 4-lane “road of national significance” to proceed as the previous government planned it.

In Auckland’s eastern suburbs, MPs Jami-Lee Ross (Botany), Simeon Brown (Pakuranga) & Denise Lee (Maungakiekie) launched their petition to support the East-West Link.

They commented: “After a decade of planning & $50 million of investigative spending, you would expect that there was a clear direction on the project. This project has been through a fine-toothed procedural process like no other. It is supported by council, iwi, and has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s board of inquiry.

“The current gridlock is a major barrier to commerce. This is making it difficult for people getting access to their basic daily goods. It is quite literally the bread & butter of transport projects.”

Contractor, 15 January 2018: Infrastructure & transport
National Party petitions: Save our regional highway projects

Attribution: National Party releases, Contractor.

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Ngati Whatua wants East-West Link consents buried

Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua Orakei raised its concern on Friday that the East-West Link through Penrose & Onehunga could go ahead one day, even though the current government has cancelled it.

The $1.85 billion link was intended to run between State Highway 1 at Mt Wellington & State Highway 20 at Onehunga.

The board of inquiry which heard the NZ Transport Agency’s application for it released its draft report & decision on 14 November – by which time new prime minister Jacinda Ardern & Auckland mayor Phil Goff had confirmed it would be cancelled in its present form. The board confirmed 2 notices of requirement and granted resource consents, subject to conditions.

Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust spokesperson Ngarimu Blair said: “While the iwi welcomes the stated aim of the new government to scrap the project, this does not provide a sufficient degree of certainty and Transport Minister Phil Twyford needs to formally honour the Government’s commitment to cancel the project completely.

“The notices of requirement & resource consents have a 15-year period for implementation, and will therefore outlast the current term of government. We want to ensure the East-West Link as proposed never goes ahead, no matter who is in government at the time.

“We have written to Minister Twyford asking that the Government direct the NZ Transport Agency to formally withdraw the notices of requirement and surrender the consents.

“This would avoid the danger of the current government’s intentions being undermined. We note in this regard that the NZ Transport Agency are currently proceeding with moves to implement the project as if nothing had changed post-general election.”

Mr Blair said Ngati Whatua Orakei, Te Kawerau a Maki & Makaurau Marae, along with other community & conservation groups such as The Onehunga Enhancement Society (TOES) and the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, went to great expense & effort to stop the motorway during a gruelling 3-month hearing before the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry.

Royal Forest & Bird environmental lawyer Sally Gepp said the society was concerned that the decision to grant the consents & designations meant key policies in the brand-new Auckland unitary plan “have been treated as little more than words on a page.

“Forest & Bird played an integral role in ensuring that the unitary plan provides for nature as well as people. We went to the High Court to change the unitary plan – and won – and as a result Auckland’s remaining biodiversity hotspots are protected in the plan. This decision has rendered those protections meaningless.”

Onehunga Enhancement Society chair Jim Jackson commented: “There is no way to now ‘redesign’ the Onehunga/Neilson St interchange end of the East-West Link within the designations & consents supported by the board of inquiry. Those designations & consents have to be scrapped.”

Mr Blair said Ngati Whatua o Orakei opposed the link designed for freight traffic for its “enduring & significant” adverse environmental & cultural effects.

“We look forward to having real input into the Auckland transport alignment project review and will contribute proactively on future sensible options for the Mangere Inlet & Onehunga area. There must be true collaboration amongst all the parties and not a short-sighted singular focus on road building as we’ve seen in recent years,” he said.

Historic Ngati Whatua links

Mr Blair said Ngati Whatua Orakei had a deep & ongoing connection to Te To Waka, Te Papapa, the Mangere Inlet & Onehunga area: “Its direct association with Onehunga dates back to the mid-17th century, while links through marriage connect the iwi to the entire length of the Maori occupation of the area.

“Ngati Whatua resided at Mangere & Onehunga in autumn & winter and, soon after Matariki, would plant & till the extensive gardens in the area. The Rev Samuel Marsden & John Logan Campbell both visited Ngati Whatua at Onehunga and, after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Ngati Whatua Orakei with Waikato iwi were major players in the economy based around the trading port at Onehunga. The iwi moved its main base to Orakei in the mid-19th century.

“Onehunga land was ‘acquired’ from Ngati Whatua Orakei during the period of the Fitzroy waivers (1844-45), when settlers could purchase land directly from Maori vendors, itself a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. When these transactions were later examined by land commissioners appointed by Governor Grey, the sale of only 8 acres was upheld. Of the remainder, 723a became Crown land and a further 575a were kept by the Crown as defence land – none was made available to the original owners, despite a requirement 10% of land sold was to be kept aside for the benefit of its ‘former’ Maori owners. This historic grievance was settled with Ngati Whatua Orakei in 2012.”

EPA, East-West link
About the east-west link
Draft report & decision

Attribution: Ngati Whatua release.

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Northern transport corridor works approved

The board of inquiry into the Northern Corridor improvements proposal has confirmed & granted the NZ Transport Agency’s notices of requirements & resource consents applications.

The board of inquiry produced its final report & decision on 16 November and released it publicly last Wednesday.

Parties, including submitters, can appeal the board’s decision to the High Court, but only on questions of law.

The proposal provides the final motorway connection for the Western Ring Route project. It includes direct motorway interchange connections between State Highways 1 & 18 and capacity & safety improvements on State Highway 1 between Constellation Drive & Oteha Valley Rd, and on State Highway 18 between State Highway 1 & Albany Highway.

It also includes an extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation Drive to the Albany bus station, reconfiguration of the Constellation bus station and the addition of shared-use paths along the length of the proposal area.

The Transport Agency lodged its application for 6 notices of requirement & 25 resource consents with the Environmental Protection Authority on 14 December 2016.

Links: Final report & decision
Northern Corridor improvements project

Attribution: EPA release.

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Council agrees to reprioritise land supply schedule

Auckland Council’s planning committee skipped the most pressing part of its business yesterday – decisions on refreshing the overarching Auckland Plan – but did spend time on its future urban land supply strategy.

Committee chair Chris Darby said the Auckland Plan refresh and how the council would consult on it had been deferred until Tuesday 28 March because more preparation was needed.

But the committee discussed in detail the future land supply strategy and agreed to a number of changes to sequencing.

Staff recommended advancing work on some areas and deferring it elsewhere because of infrastructure constraints. The estimate to install bulk infrastructure over the next 30 years is $19.7 billion.

Areas to be brought forward: Warkworth North, Wainui East, Silverdale (business), Red Hills, Puhinui (business), Wesley (Paerata), Opaheke Drury, Drury South.

Areas to be pushed back: Kumeu-Huapai-Riverhead, Whenuapai stage 2, Drury West stage 2, Puhinui (business), Red Hills North, Warkworth North-east & Takanini.

Public consultation on the Auckland Plan is scheduled for the period 29 March-18 April.

East-West link

The planning committee also identified a number of concerns about the East-West link project intended to run through Onehunga.

The Government identified the project as a road of national significance and referred it to a board of inquiry. The NZ Transport Agency’s applications were publicly notified on 22 February and submissions close on 22 March.

  • This is an overly short version of events at yesterday’s committee meeting – being in 2 places at once doesn’t always work. I’ll come back with more detail on the land issues and the East-West link.

Committee agenda

Attribution: Council release, agenda.

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Warkworth-Wellsford indicative route unveiled

The NZ Transport Agency released an indicative route on Tuesday for the State Highway 1 replacement between Warkworth & Northland.

Image above: The NZ Transport Agency’s map of the indicative route. Link below is to a larger version of the map.

The route will run well west of Warkworth then head east to skirt Wellsford & Te Hana, returning to the existing highway route at Vipond Rd, a few bends south of the border between the Auckland city/region & Northland province.

3 interchanges will connect the motorway with Warkworth, Wellsford at Wayby Valley Rd and Te Hana at Mangawhai Rd.

The project is a continuation of the road of national significance that started by bypassing Silverdale & Orewa and currently returns to the old route just south of Puhoi.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said: “It will reduce the overall travel time between Warkworth & Te Hana by bypassing town centres, and avoiding the steep & winding Dome Valley. The straighter road alignment will also reduce the high crash rate through this area and reduce congestion & frustrations for motorists that often get stuck behind slow-moving heavy vehicles.”

The Dome Valley is not exactly steep but is constrained from widening, while the chosen route looks like it will cut through hillier terrain.

The 18.5km Puhoi-Warkworth section is scheduled to open in late 2021. It’s being delivered by the Northern Express Group (NX2) as a public-private partnership. The transport agency is working towards designating the 19.5km Warkworth-Wellsford section route by the end of 2018.

The route is also on the Government’s Connecting Northland strategy. Mr Bridges said: “Improving this road is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring transport infrastructure is in place to connect communities, get people to places of work and freight to key export markets, which are all vital in helping Northland’s economy grow.”

NZTA, Ara Tuhono, Warkworth-Wellsford
Ara Tuhono map pdf

Earlier story:
28 July 2014: NZTA gets Puhoi-Warkworth consents, no standard condition 1, economic & alternative objections sidelined

Attribution: NZTA, ministerial release.

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April start for Tamaki Drive intersection upgrade

A $7 million upgrade for the intersection of Tamaki Drive & Ngapipi Rd is scheduled to start in April after an independent hearings panel approved Auckland Transport’s proposal.

The waterfront route to the eastern suburbs carries 30,000 vehicles/day.

Auckland Transport’s major capital group manager, Andrew Scoggins, said last week it was one of Auckland’s most dangerous intersections: “21 crashes have been recorded at the intersection in the past 5 years, with 13 resulting in injury. Tamaki-Ngapipi is ranked number 10 on the national top 100 list of crash risk intersections.

Image above: An artist’s impression of the upgraded intersection.Link: Tamaki-Ngapipi project overview

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Northern corridor project gets closer to a hearing

The northern corridor improvements project in Auckland – providing the final motorway connection for the western ring route project – took a step towards a hearing today when the Environmental Protection Authority accepted the NZ Transport Agency’s application as complete.

The transport agency lodged its application for 6 notices of requirement & 25 resource consents on 14 December 2016.

Following today’s approval, the next step is for the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, to make a direction on whether the proposal is nationally significant and whether to refer the proposal to a board of inquiry, the Environment Court or Auckland Council for consideration & a decision.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said public consultation would take place early next year, and a start on construction was planned for 2018.

The project includes direct motorway interchange connections between State Highways 1 & 18, and capacity & safety improvements on State Highway 1 between Constellation Drive & Oteha Valley Rd, and on State Highway 18 between State Highway 1 & the Albany Highway.

The proposal also includes an extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation Drive to the Albany bus station, reconfiguration of the Constellation bus station, the addition of shared use paths along the length of the proposal area, direct connection of Paul Matthews Rd to Upper Harbour Highway and local road intersection improvements.

EPA, northern corridor proposal
NZTA, northern corridor improvements application

Attribution: NZTA website, ministerial release.

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