Government Fast Tracking the City Rail Link?

Or a cynical attempt at pork sprinkling by Gerry Brownlee?





At the moment I dread opening up Twitter and the bulk of our Main Stream Media online outlets for the amount of muck being flung across the place with this election. However, one must plod on to go find stories of interest that do crop up from time to time.

In this case Bernard Orsman presents a story about the Government possibly fast-tracking the City Rail Link? The catch? National seems only to be doing it as a pork sprinkling exercise as I first mentioned here: National’s Road to Redemption.

Lets take a look at Bernard’s story.

From the NZ Herald

Govt hints at early start to City Rail Link

Downtown part of route could gel with Precinct development in 2016 but mayor lacks funding

The Government is looking at an early start on the $2.4 billion City Rail Link – but only for a short section of the route to go with the redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre. The underground rail link starts at Britomart and goes under Lower Queen St and the shopping centre before turning up Albert St bound for Mt Eden.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee told the Herald he had met Precinct Properties about plans for a $400 million to $500 million redevelopment of the downtown site.

Once those plans were firmed up, he said, the Government would want to see how the rail link and redevelopment might gel to ensure everyone got the best results out of the time the site was under construction.

But Mr Brownlee stressed there was no commitment from Precinct at this point and no commitment from the Government, which wanted construction on the full link to start in 2020. The section of the route under the downtown site “would be lucky to be 100m”, he said.

He is citing the downtown redevelopment as one reason to kickstart a $250 million cut-and-cover section of the link from Britomart and up much of Albert St.

Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard yesterday said the company notified the stock exchange through its annual results reporting last week of a downtown start date in the first quarter of 2016. The annual results show the company is in the design phase and hopes to have resource consent and be committed to the project by the middle of next year.

“It would make sense to have works around that location done at the same time,” Mr Pritchard said. “Any Aucklander and visitor doesn’t want to see the bottom of the city under [construction for years].”



You can see the full article over at the Herald.


Forgive me if I am cynical here in that it looks like Gerry has being forced out his box by his boss, grumbled over to the stand, mumbled out something grudgingly, then went back to his box. Or in other terms; pork sprinkling with a high dose of grumble spice added to it.

Forgive again if I am really cynical about Brownlee’s announcement when we had this from the Downtown Briefing in June:

The Story of Downtown Auckland

This story will follow the line of notes I wrote from Ludo’s part of the presentation.

There was no big announcement due at the briefing (which was expected) but the reason why we (the media) were present was to list to the first chapter of the story that is Downtown Auckland. As Ludo would say in the presentation: “Sorry no big announcement today (which received a few chuckles from the media) but a story to be told from where it has started, to where we are now, and to the future (of Downtown Auckland).”

Ludo would then proceed to tell us that there is serious interest in partnerships (that often lead to Public Private Partnerships) in developing Downtown Auckland. Precinct Properties partnering up with Council over the development of the site opposite Britomart and the Central Post Office building can be used as an example of such a partnership between Council and a private developer. Council, the Council Built Environment Unit (which Ludo is part of) and Precinct Properties are working together in delivering high quality development on the parcel of land that currently houses; Downtown Mall, HSBC Tower, and Zurich House, as well as Queen Elizabeth Square (which has been in the public spotlight lately). As well as the development opportunities presented on this parcel of land we have the first part of the City Rail Link tunnels due to run underneath the site. I did ask Rick Walden of the City Integration Group (which overseas the City Centre developments) did Council have the resources to dig the first part of the City Rail Link when Precinct Properties is ready to go. The answer is yes. So from late 2015 the first part of the City Rail Link from Britomart to the intersection of Albert and Customs Street will be built as the same time Precinct develop their site. All part of the ‘One Dig’ policy the Deputy Mayor alluded to in order to mitigate against more disruption than necessary.




So Council is in fact all set to go with that stage of the City Rail Link once Precinct Properties is ready to go (around 2016). So what Gerry is attempting I great with cynicism especially in light of recent events dogging the Party….


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