The East West Link

Back to the Drawing Board it goes

 

Yesterday I was at the Infrastructure Committee in which the East-West Link was being debated and presented on.

When you hear this:

You know it is going to be a very interesting debate.

 

I will run another set of commentary on yesterday’s proceedings once the Minutes are out – as they contain the resolutions that were passed (and there was a lot of them to boot).

 

From yesterday though; we heard a very spirited presentation from Respect Our Community Campaign who are not only opposed to Option Four of the East-West Link, but also want Council, Auckland Transport and NZTA to go right back at the beginning and start again over this entire project. Meaning back to the drawing board on the situation and starting first with some general dialogue between the community and the public authorities.

 

You can see the ROCC presentation over that their site: “Presentation to Auckland Council Infrastructure Committee.” 

The Auckland Council presentation on the East West Link can be seen here:

 

And Bernard Orsman’s piece from the NZ Herald can be seen here: “Councillors oppose $1b freight corridor

From that article Mayor Len Brown has said Option 4 of the East-West Link is a “non-starter” or rather dead duck. However, the other options including Option 8 are still on the table.

So back to the drawing board for the East-West Link starting with a site visit and workshop around the project to occur early next year (most likely alongside the Manukau visit and workshops).

 

Wider Contexts from The East West Link

Speaking of Manukau I noted a statement from Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse in regards to one of the recommendations (need to wait until the Minutes are posted as the recommendations were amended yesterday). What I need to do is follow-up with the Deputy Mayor to see which “A” was being opposed as the Recommendations were up for the vote.

It was either the original Recommendation “A:”

Recommendation/s
That the Infrastructure Committee:
a) support the East-West Link programme being developed in the context of AMETI, rail projects and other related projects.

or the amended version which I will stick up here as soon as the Minutes are out in four business days time.

The reason why I am mentioning this is because I picked up yesterday from the Deputy Mayor something about a wider context:

 

A wider Land Use and Transport study via The Auckland Development Committee is either under way or about to get under way. I am going out on a limb here to say three different projects are about to be stitched up together over this respective study. Those three projects being:

  1. Inter-Regional Planning along the Golden Banana (Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Waikato)
  2. Manukau
  3. East West Link

 

There is probably a few more projects in there but the above three seem to be the ones coming up again and again at the moment.

This brings an interesting dynamic to our planning and even urban design situation. As Franklin War Councillor mentioned yesterday in regards to the East-West Link that what are the chances of land use movement in the Link area. Meaning could heavy industry in Penrose and Onehunga move south to Wiri and the new Drury South areas. If so what will replace Onehunga and Penrose, and what does this mean to transport planning over the next 50-100 years. It also means what happens to Wiri, Drury South and Manukau with industry on the movement and supporting structures establishing themselves near by.

 

Already with the Developing a 21st Century Manukau work I am continuing to draw up (and was presented to Council last Thursday at the Auckland Development Committee), I have anticipated increasing medium and “heavy” industry moving or establishing in Wiri and west Puhinui (subject to a zone change before Council at the moment). With this in mind transport and land use planning around the Manukau City Centre area and the Manukau suburb will reflect this eventual situation as well as increased industrial activity in Drury.

Before one asks (as I know Transport Blog and their supporters will) why industry would move from Penrose and Onehunga and go south; it would be for the inter-city and export links. At the same time a natural innovation and business start-up centre can develop in Wiri being close to transit links and real estate being cheaper there than Wynyard Quarter, Penrose and Onehunga. For more on that see my “A Perspective on the CBD and Waterfront” post from last month in comment of Rod Oram lampooning Wynyard Quarter and the Waterfront.

Road wise (once the Southern Motorway is widened from Manukau to Papakura) freight traffic can leave and enter Auckland along that corridor to their bases in Wiri or Drury. This would beat the chronic congestion around the isthmus area currently faced – although freight heading north will have the Western Ring Route available from 2017 to skip State Highway One.

To access Port of Auckland the rail freight shuttles from Wiri is already there and being planned to step up in the future. From bases in Wiri smaller shuttling trucks can access the rest of Auckland using State Highway 20 as the main travel route. Metroport could possible move south as well unless Port of Tauranga contributes significantly to the third rail main however, as Metroport uses rail significantly I do not expect them to move soon.

As for Penrose and Onehunga, it is very likely to go from heavy industry to services and residential over time. Already conversion from heavy industry to services (whether it be commercial or light industry) in the area is happening with heavy industry heading to Wiri or East Tamaki.

And so a major discussion (probably one I need to go and have) with Council is going to be needed about land and transport use over the next 100 years. Because what the Deputy Mayor said in May one way or the other is going to happen. And Manukau and Albany being the southern and northern Super Metropolitan Centre gateways in this progression means some very visionary and bold planning is going to be required. Yes Transport Blog fans, the CBD will still be the core of your mono core centric city but a different design will be in play for our two second tier centres (Albany and Manukau). A case of watch this space (Developing a 21st Century Auckland Presentation – The Results)

 

Option 8

Even with this progression of Onehunga and Penrose land uses over the next 50 years dealing with traffic across the area still needs to be addressed. While still neutral compared to Option Four (which is now dead ducked by the Mayor any how) Option 8 is still firmly on the table.

I took a site visit out to the Option 8 area this morning and received a presentation that was given to the Mayor yesterday (explains why Mayor Brown was not at the Committee yesterday as the East-West Link was discussed). I have the paper copy of the presentation but not the digital version at the moment. I might upload the presentation over the weekend and link it back to this post.

 

If I am to take a look at the situation over the next 100 years pragmatically Option 8 is most likely to come about but not in its current form. In my own opinion if I was to take a punt on this, regardless of land use changes in the area I can see a two-four lane expressway popping up – but not the 8 lane option currently mooted. Does it mean a tunnel also gets built to connect up to Highbrook? Jury is out on that one until I see some solid traffic modelling on this part of Option 8. As for a rail line I am struggling to see how that would fit into either the existing heavy rail network or a Light Rail Transit network like what I was toying around with for the Botany Line. The one thing that does have my attention with Option 8 is the allowance to put in place major utility infrastructure that is needed. Sewer, Fresh Water, Power (so the pylons can be buried) and gas lines would be built the same time Option 8 was built. I would assume these line would be major trunk lines and either replace existing infrastructure or add extra capacity as Auckland continues to grow.

 

One thing the presentation also covered was the restoration of the badly damaged Manukau Harbour after 100 years of treating it as a tip (and in part we still do). That though I might cover another time.

 

At the end of the day there is going to be much more encompassing debate around not only the East-West Link but where things are going land and transport use for Auckland. I hear constant discussions around the Golden Banana and the future there. As a result I will not dismiss Option 8 in its entirety yet. Not until a solid strategy around what is going on between Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga as I believe the Auckland Plan is already obsolete.

More on The Golden Banana from early next year.

 

For now it is time to return to the Developing a 21st Century Auckland and Manukau Series

 

Option 8

http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/11/14/the-east-west-horror-show/
http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/11/14/the-east-west-horror-show/