City Rail Link and other projects getting under way
Okay I know the blog and myself are meant to be on Summer Series mode at the moment but a few larger scale projects seemed to have kicked off today that are very worthy of a mention.
Transport Blog has written up a good summary on 2015 that was here: 2015 – Auckland’s Watershed Year
Even though Christmas and 2016 is not too far away 2015 is going to give us one last hoorah before signing off.
City Rail Link
I notice that their was a dawn blessing to mark the official start of the City Rail Link construction this morning.
From Our Auckland:
About 80 people gathered on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets in the central city as kaumatua blessed the worksite between Swanson and Wellesley streets where the first part of the $2.5 billion project has begun.
The start of the CRL project is timely as Aucklanders increasingly choose to use public transport to travel around the city.
City Rail Link a milestone for Auckland
CRL project director Chris Meale says the start of work was a great milestone for Auckland Transport (AT) and the project team.
“Today was a celebration, but for most Aucklanders, the first piece of work will be largely invisible. A replacement stormwater pipe will be built under Albert Street so that the existing one can be removed when work on the CRL tunnels starts in the middle of next year.”
The transport project Auckland has needed for almost 100 years
Those gathered, including Mayor Len Brown, acknowledged that it was a day that Aucklanders have been contemplating for almost a century.
“In 1923 Railways Minister Gordon Coates gave his support for a city-to-Morningside underground rail line that never happened. In the 1970s, Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson’s rapid-rail proposal met a similar fate,” says the mayor.
“Today’s blessing means that in the coming months, Aucklanders will see the CRL starting to take shape.”
Full article and source: http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2015/12/city-rail-link-kicks-off/
I noticed earlier this morning that the signs have gone up around the Lakewood Plaza apartment project in the south-eastern corner of Manukau City Centre. Construction of the R$$$ (residential high value or luxury) is due to start in August 2016 with completion about 18 months after that.
This marks an excellent start to the Panuku Development Auckland Transform program which is due to start in Manukau next year. You can listen to more of the Manukau Transform project here: Panuku: The Presentations and The Work Ahead for Panuku #BetterAuckland
Despite what some in the Governing Body of Auckland Council say (often those whose capital is long gone and should move on) the state of Council finances are again in good shape as mentioned below:
Report finds councils’ finances in good shape
A snapshot of local government’s financial health: a sector in good shape, prepared by the Local Government Funding Agency (LGFA), reported that councils’ finances are in good shape, with debt levels that fall below those estimated in 2012 long-term plans.
Credit ratings also continue to be strong, with more councils now rated by accredited rating agencies.
The LGFA began issuing bonds to raise funds for local authorities in February 2012, having been established to reduce council borrowing costs by at least 30 basis points.
After central government, it is the most economical borrower and currently has about $5.56 billion of bonds on issue at maturities ranging from December 2017 to April 2027. There are 46 councils that participate in its programmes, including 30 shareholding councils.
Local Government New Zealand President Lawrence Yule welcomed the findings of the research into the sector’s financial health, commissioned following the recent release of councils’ annual reports and publication of 2015-25 long-term plans.
“The LGFA has concluded that local government’s finances are in good shape. Our councils have shown themselves to be strong and conservative financial managers,” said Mr Yule.
New Zealand councils’ ratings currently range from ‘AA’ to ‘A+’ which suggests a very strong to strong capacity to meet financial commitments.
Domestic councils tend to rate highly in credit ratings compared to their global peers because of the close relationship between the two-tiered central and local government and the institutional framework the sector operates under.
Auckland Council retains strong rating
Standard & Poor’s earlier this month reaffirmed Auckland Council’s ‘AA’ long-term and ‘A-1+’ short-term issuer credit ratings.
Auckland Council Group Chief Financial Officer Sue Tindal says the rating, as well as the LGFA research, reflects the work the council is doing to position for Auckland’s growth.
“We are particularly pleased the LGFA has recognised the challenges to Auckland Council presented by the rapid growth of the region,” said Ms Tindal, Auckland Council’s Chief Financial Officer.
“In the last year alone, 45,000 more people decided to call Auckland home.
“We have been working hard to ensure our finances are in good shape. Our financial strategy sets limits on the council’s borrowing to maintain debt at a sustainable level. While total group debt is projected to reach $11.6 billion by 2025, it will still remain at a prudent level compared with our annual income of $5.4 billion by 2025.”
I also see Auckland Future has begun announcing its candidates for Auckland 2016 as well. I shall cover that in a subsequent post.
In the meantime 2015 has been indeed a watershed year as Transport Blog so rightly put it.