Need to think laterally on the issue
Those who have been watching Unitary Plan developments recently (no not that vote this time) will have heard me refer to the Mt Wellington – Otahuhu Bottleneck. The bottleneck is located on the most narrow part of the Auckland Isthmus at Otahuhu connecting the Isthmus itself to Southern Auckland. The width at this point is no more than 1.2km between the edge of a tributary to the Tamaki River and Manukau Harbour or 1.95km between the Southern Motorway and the Westfield Rail Depot.
The bottleneck also extends from the point mentioned above to the South Eastern Highway Interchange just north of the Mt Wellington Interchange on the Southern Motorway. That said it is not only the motorway affected but the Southern and Manukau Lines running through that area as well. The rail bottleneck owes to the two passenger lines also running with the main freight line that has its twin depots (Westfield and Metroport) right next to them in the area. As we know freight and passenger trains don’t mix and if we are to increase both they will need to have their own dedicated lines (hence the Third Main from Papakura to Westfield).
The map below shows the
Kiwi Rail is trying to get the Third Main built from Papakura to Westfield that would separate the freight trains from the passenger trains but Government politics continuously gets in the road from that happening. If that new Main is built then we can increase the frequencies of both passenger and freight trains in the area mitigating freight and car congestion on the Southern Motorway especially against this following bottleneck:
There you can see the South Eastern Highway (feeding traffic to and from Pakuranga, Botany and Howick) to the already congested Southern Motorway that is bringing traffic up from Manukau, Papakura and the Waikato. Also seen is the large heavy industrial complex in the area that generates a lot of freight traffic as well. As Southern Auckland grows there is no more room to widen the Southern Motorway from Mt Wellington to the City so the congestion is only going to get worse.
Check the area of Southern Auckland coming north:
The Western Ring Route (State Highways 20, 18 and 16) will be the main north-south link bypassing the need to go by the Central Motorway junction and the City Centre. However if the Auckland Transport Alignment Project is correct and that the bulk of population growth will be in the South with job growth on the Isthmus then we have major incoming issues for both the rail line and the Southern Motorway.
Also remember where you see yellow you see future subdivisions:
So what to do?
Well Auckland Transport has said 80% of commuters should not come further north than Manukau and the Airport from the South. So they have been working on this which goes back out for more consultation next month:
While Auckland Transport is gearing up with the challenge to deal with the bottleneck does Auckland Council through the Unitary Plan? I would say no hence these two points from my Supplementary Evidence that went to the Panel for consideration yesterday:
- Manukau City Centre does have the commercial side given it is a Centre and under a business zone but focus also needs to be on the residential capacity side. This is because if we cannot attract a decent home residential base in Manukau City Centre then trying to attract businesses (regardless of Manukau’s connectivity by road, bus and train) which would result in kicking off the agglomeration affects (that the main City Centre benefits from) would be a futile effort. Remembering that (from former Auckland Council Property Limited now Panuku Development Auckland):
- Primary Centres
- While there is some debate about whether Auckland legitimately has two or three Primary Centres, the conclusion of this report is that there are two centres – one to the South (Manukau) and one to the North (Albany). These Primary Centres fundamentally complement the City Centre in servicing core parts of the region, and reflect the linear geography of Auckland.
- 1 Manukau
- Manukau has traditionally been a strong area and has developed into a major Primary Centre extensively servicing South Auckland.
- It would benefit from the overview of the City Transformation Unit. The commitment and focus this brings is beneficial. It sends a signal to the market that Council is committed to continuing investment in order to strengthen Manukau.
- The key issues Council should focus on are:
- The significant opportunity the new rail link to Manukau City Centre will provide. This should further boost the preference for office location in this area.
- Opportunities to improve the walkability of the Centre and in particular to connect the rail station to the Centre.
- A more sophisticated entertainment and retail offer.
- The need to promote a residential base within Manukau City Centre. It is this mix of office and residential use which will give Manukau a 24-hour urban lifestyle.
- It is recognised that the reverse sensitivity aspects of the airport flight path do complicate residential opportunities.
- Support the social policy initiatives and approach reflected in the broader Manukau Community and the opportunities the Manukau City Centre derives to support these policies.
- Primary Centres
- Thus some of the key reasons for the Super Metropolitan Centre are the following:
- Reducing commutes up the Southern Motorway and Southern rail Line through the Otahuhu-Mt Wellington bottleneck (thus achieving Auckland Transport’s no further than 80% going further north than Manukau).
- Reduction in such long commutes would benefit productivity (fewer people being strung up from the long commute).
- Physical environmentally beneficial if congestion can be mitigated by the above.
- Better for our mental health again owing to mitigation against long commutes.
- Open up accessibility to high paying and knowledge jobs to the South which does feel the effects of higher social deprivation.
- Required infrastructure investment could be reassigned elsewhere if long commutes are cut down and higher concentrations of employment are provided closer to home.
- Both the South and Isthmus cooperate with each specialising out to demands and needs.
- The South evolves its heart (Manukau City Centre) to their social identity and demands to that identity (the South affiliates with Manukau more than the main City Centre).
- Realisation of MBIE’s aspirations shown in the pictures above (to of benefit to the people of the South and to both the Auckland and national Economy).
- Sending a clear market signal that Auckland Council alongside Panuku Development Auckland that major investment into the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre is both attractive and viable through the life of the Auckland Plan.
 https://voakl.net/2016/03/21/unitaryplan-business-zone-capacity-study-interesting-lacks-human-geography-element/ . Also Evidence (Primary). Benjamin Ross. Topic 051. Paragraph 25. Pages 15-17.
It is going to be an interesting discussion with the Panel when I present to them the Hearings (in Manukau) next month!