Tag: Western Ring Route

Last Part of the Western Ring Route Contracts Awarded

Contract Awarded for St Lukes Road Interchange to Great North Road Interchange of the North Western Motorway

 

I do not usually run NZTA media releases but this one I will as it shows we are nearly there with the completion of the long awaited Western Ring Route.

From NZTA:

Contract award for next stage of Western Ring Route

5 Feb 2014 04:35pm | NZ Transport Agency: Auckland and Northland

The contract to construct the next stage of Auckland’s Western Ring Route – upgrading the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) between the St Lukes Road and Great North Road interchanges – has been awarded to the Australian-based infrastructure company, Leighton Contractors.

The $70m project is jointly funded by the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport.

A two kilometre-long section of the motorway will be widened from three to four lanes in each direction.  There will also be improvements to the motorway ramps and the St Lukes Road -Great North Road intersection, while the St Lukes Road overbridge spanning the motorway will be widened to benefit drivers, walkers and cyclists.

The Transport Agency’s Highways Manager, Tommy Parker, says this is the last of six projects to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern (SH20) motorways.

“The upgrade is part of our programme to get our network ready for the increased volume of traffic when the Waterview tunnels connecting the Northwestern and Southwestern (SH20) motorways are completed in early 2017,” Mr Parker says.

Work is due to start in mid-autumn and be completed by late 2016.   The other projects to connect the two motorways are the upgrade of the Maioro Street interchanges (SH20) which is completed, and the upgrade of the Lincoln and Te Atatu interchanges, the Causeway Upgrade Project, and the Waterview Connection, which are all under construction.

“Leightons bring plenty of infrastructure experience to the St Lukes project. The company is part of the Causeway alliance, and has been involved in some of our biggest Auckland developments including the Northern Gateway Toll Road and the Newmarket Viaduct Replacement Project.” Mr Parker says.

The Western Ring Route is a Road of National Significance, and will provide a 47km-long alternative to SH1 between Albany and Manukau.  It will improve safety and city and regional transport connections for people and freight.

—-ends—-

Source: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/3170/news.html

 

It will be good to have the entire project finished as for one I would be using it as the main highway between my place on Papakura and my mum’s place in Te Atatu (thus skipping the CBD and Central Motorway junction).

I was thinking once the Western Ring Route is fully completed, should it be converted to State Highway One with State Highway 20 taking the Manukau to CBD section while State Highway 18 taking the CBD to Albany section. State Highway one was always designed to be the inter-city and inter-regional road link with the State Highways 20, 16 and 18 being the intra-regional highways. So with the Western Ring Route soon to be completed and serving as the primary inter-regional route for cars and road freight (as it will by-pass the Harbour Bridge and the CBD) I believe it should carry the State Highway One shield.

I also noted this from the release:

The Western Ring Route is a Road of National Significance, and will provide a 47km-long alternative to SH1 between Albany and Manukau.  It will improve safety and city and regional transport connections for people and freight.

Manukau and Albany – the two touted Super Metropolitan Centres of Auckland serving as regional people, commerce, freight and industrial service (for Manukau) hubs for their areas and partnering areas (Manukau with the Northern Waikato and Albany for Northland). Both Super Metropolitan Centres sit on the two boundaries of the Western Ring Route.

 

Does Auckland Really Suck the Life Out of NZ?

I Would Say Wellington Does – Hands Down

(Parliament that is)

 

Two notes before I start this post in reply to The Vote NZ’s supposed debate that occurred on Wednesday night:

  1. This is just me musing and posting my thoughts on this debate about the regions hurting while Auckland continues to “surge” ahead. I might later write a paper on the matter backed by primary research and my own findings
  2. Australia is just a consequence of actions or inactions here in NZ. People are free to come and go between Australia and NZ although I see more Kiwis are coming back to NZ at the moment.

 

On Wednesday night The Vote NZ decided to hold a debate on whether Auckland was sucking the life out of the regions (everywhere else) and what should basically be done about it.

I did not bother to watch as it turned out as I predicted: a Duncan Garner (the host) led JAFA bashing session of New Zealand’s largest and most powerful city. Then again I can’t expect much else out of Garner and his ineptness most days of the given week.

Look, I’ll keep this post brief; Auckland is not sucking the life out of the regions, Wellington is. That is the current Neo Conservative John Key led Government is with Steven Joyce as the Minister of Everything (Business, Innovation and Employment) and Gerry Brownlee as the Minister of Transport.

Our Neo Con Government basically does three things:

Economics

“Pick winners.” $30m subsidy for Rio Tinto’s Aluminium Smelter yet nothing for Solid Energy and Huntly. Interfere with the free market through getting in the road and picking winners through subsidies – most times the winner being sold overseas soon after or failing and needing prop up. If a company fails in the free market it usually (if there was demand) will rise again from the ashes and continue on. Let the private individual decide not Government. Our Neo Con Government also does not really have a regional development strategy in place to help the regions grow. Now it can do that in two ways: infrastructure upgrades, or either a Crown Research Institute or tertiary education facility somewhere near by. Businesses naturally flock to these areas including large and often heavy industry through complementing each other.

Infrastructure

Our Neo Con Government can not build our transport infrastructure to save both itself and NZ. While our State Highways do need to be maintained do we need to binge on the gold-plated Roads of National Significance? Of all of the RoNS that are there (7) I can only think of two that were needed at all – the Western Ring Route (under construction) and the Victoria Park Tunnel. Both in Auckland and both needed to assist Auckland move. For the rest, like the Holiday Highway, better and less expensive safety upgrades and bypasses can be built (like the Maramarua State Highway 2 bypass) rather than 4-lane motorways. Ironically I just saw this as I was writing this post: Motorway benefits debated. A virtual drain on both Auckland and the rest of the nation’s regions. As for other forms of transport, we need major investment in road and coastal shipping as well.

Taxes and Investment

We do hear the regions wail that they do not get their taxes they send to Wellington in the form of investment and blame Auckland for getting the “lion’s share.” News to the regions, Auckland does not even get all the tax it sends down back to the city into the form of investment. For every dollar we send down especially in transport and fuel levies, anywhere between 65-75cents comes back to Auckland in transport investment. That hurts us as much as it hurts the regions.

What to do?

First of all Auckland does not suck the life out of the regions. Auckland like Fonterra is a powerhouse. However, Auckland is also massive and of critical mass in size and population. Realise though, especially those who are quick to bash Auckland – which can contribute up to 40% of New Zealand’s GDP  (great if Fonterra takes any more whacks), Auckland and the regions are interdependent on each other. Not one over the other and independent of the other – interdependent! If one fails the other also fails.

Wikipedia: The sub-national GDP of the Auckland region was estimated at US$47.6 billion in 2003, 36% of New Zealand’s national GDP, 15% greater than the entire South Island.[54]

In my honest opinion the Government should be doing this:

Economics

Stop picking winners and sending money to places like Rio Tinto. It does nothing for the regions nor Auckland. It only helps a few and most likely an elite few at that. Allow the free market to work, create, burn, destroy, and recreate out of the ashes. Private individuals are responsive to the needs of others and often the economy, not the cumbersome Government.

People in a free market situation also move naturally to areas best suited to them and their requirements. For some that is Auckland and its offerings, others the regions and its offerings. When the Government does not interfere the movement of people and capital moves naturally, balancing itself between the interdependent regions and Auckland. Our Government has upset this natural balance.

Sure, the Government can help with education and mentoring people along BUT, no hand outs.

Infrastructure

Realise this for moving goods efficiently and economically:

  • Road and truck: small volumes and most efficient for short distance
  • Rail: medium volumes (can take the volumes of 100+ trucks) over medium and long distance
  • Coastal Shipping: large and bulk volumes over large distances (Auckland to Timaru for example)

Plan and build for this. This means upgrading the North Auckland Rail Line and building the Marsden Line to serve the North Port in Northland which is growing. Reopen the Napier-Gisborne Line as it can move logs much better and in higher volumes than trucks can. Make sure our coastal shipping facilities and inter-modal transfer (boat to train or truck) are in tip top shape. These water haulers move vast amounts of cargo in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible over a long distance.

Building the infrastructure also has a bonus effect: people wanting to set up a business to utilise that infrastructure and its benefits. This means that if the regions are well served by good roads (not gold plated ones), good rail connections and/or good coastal shipping connections then people, business and industry will naturally come and invest in that particular region (providing the government is not “picking” winners).

In building the infrastructure and as a flow on effect, neighbouring Local, City and Regional Councils start working together and plan growth and cooperation with each other – benefiting all. This working together between each other seems to be happening between Auckland and Waikato (although the Government is NOT building the complete infrastructure suite of road and rail).

It got mentioned to me that Auckland Council and Environment Waikato are talking and planning ways to set about achieving cooperation in planning as both areas continue to grow. Effectively what is being looked at is population load sharing – people move naturally out of Auckland and live in northern Waikato and work in Auckland. However, they might do their shopping in the regional town centre or even Hamilton city. This kind of movement is normal and seen internationally. It seems wise as Auckland grows to have the Waikato help us out in return for population load sharing. Both Waikato and Auckland win on all fronts: economic, social and physical.

In fact I might do some commentary on that this weekend – the Auckland-Waikato partnership and population load sharing. It does have effects on Manukau as well as an interesting issue,

Dollar for Dollar

This is easy; for every dollar we send down to Wellington in transport levies we get the same dollar back for transport investment – for regions and Auckland. Not for Holiday Highways but for actual transportation infrastructure suited to moving whatever we need to move to wherever most efficiently.

While not the full spiel and hot air of The Vote NZ, this is a quick look into what I think is happening and should actually be happening.

For Auckland is not sucking the life out of the regions, Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee are (sucking the life both out of the regions and Auckland combined).

More on the Waikato-Auckland partnership this weekend

Still Coming Up – News Overload

What Will Auckland Exactly Get Today?

 

Today the Prime Minister will announce to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce a transport package for Auckland. Already the City Rail Link has been confirmed with a start date around the 2020 mark – although that could be brought forward to 2017-2018. Owing to the fact that the Western Ring Route is meant to be complete and the fact that there is a national election in 2017 (whether it is National seeking a fourth term or seeking a new term after being 3-years in opposition), I do wonder if the 2017-2018 start date will actually happen. Already the construction resources would be present from Waterview (the WRR) so why not just transplant them straight over to the CRL instead of starting from scratch three years later?

Back to the PM’s speech today; so the CRL is announced but what else does Santa have in his bag of goodies. Auckland Transport Blog listed a few already in their “What else will the Government announce? the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” post along with the consequences of each one.

Since that particular post there has been leaks and hints that the Second Harbour Crossing is also a go (in what form is unknown), PENLINK might be a go (finally), something with AMETI (please be the Eastern Highway and the start of the Botany Line), or if not AMETI then this damned East-West Link in the Onehunga/Penrose/Highbrook industrial area.

So all eyes front as we await today’s announcement from the Prime Minister.

What would I like to see and would have done if I the Prime Minister today making the announcement? Probably something like this:

  1. City Rail Link
  2. PENLINK (tolled)
  3. North Shore Line (as far as Takapuna for now)
  4. Eastern Highway and Botany Line
  5. Half the money needed for the Electrification to Pukekohe

And yep I know Point-4 is going to cause some “controversy” amongst some readers here this morning.

 

With the Unitary Plan and Manukau

Posts are still coming to these hot topics and I will do my best to get these up today if not tomorrow depending on today’s transport info overload.

So again all eyes are front as we await the major announcement from the Prime Minister

 

Southern Motorway Gridlock

Bring Back the Eastern Highway?

 

And so it happened, an accident on the southbound lanes of the Southern Motorway (State Highway One) on the Newmarket Viaduct causing absolute gridlock for hours on end – and it even delayed the start of the Breakers game to boot.

You can see (what is most likely to have been caused by hopeless driving Auckland is known for) the accident and its absolute chaos from the NZ Herald along with a bonus video

From the NZH:

How one crash caused gridlock chaos

By Amelia Wade

5:30 AM Friday Mar 8, 2013

Inner-city Auckland traffic was brought to a virtual standstill last night after a motorway crash – gridlock that the Automobile Association described as the worst it had seen.

A van crashed into the back of a truck in the southbound fast lane on the Southern Motorway at Newmarket at 3.50pm, seriously injuring a man.

More than two hours later, traffic on almost all of the city’s arterial routes was gridlocked, with buses backed up in city streets and motorists reporting speeds of less than 10km/h.

Journeys that normally took 15 minutes were taking more than an hour.

Automobile Association traffic spokesman Phil Allen said he had never seen traffic so bad in central Auckland.

Are you sick of Auckland’s traffic problems? Send us your commuting tales of woe and any ideas you have on how to fix Auckland’s traffic jams here.

The association launched traffic-mapping technology on its site 18 months ago. Routes marked in black show where traffic is moving at under 25 per cent of the speed limit.

You can read the rest and watch the video over at the NZH.

 

I was fortunate enough to have returned from the success at the Strategy and Finance Committee ahead of that traffic disaster yesterday however it is going to highlight a rather sore point?

 

Would of the much vaunted four lane Eastern Highway expressway coupled with cycle-ways and even the Botany (heavy rail) Line alleviate some (not all but some) of the chaos yesterday by giving a viable bypass for those heading south out of the CBD. Those coming from the north would have used the Western Ring Route (State Highways 16 and 20) if it had been completed by now as an extra backup.

 

The Eastern Highway and Botany Line basically followed this trajectory before its mothballing in 2004

Eastern Highway and Botany Line
Eastern Highway and Botany Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click for full resolution

 

I have the original EASTDOR report into the four options available for the Eastern Highway and will get them uploaded when I return from Australia.

But for now just ponder to yourself; The Eastern Highway – that critical back up for the CBD we now miss.

 

Of course I am waiting for the fringe brigades from both the pro road, and pro public transport and nothing else to pipe up and basically kill the debate before it starts…

 

Just remember folks – the Eastern Highway provided an absolute full suite of actual integrated transport options such as: road, freight way, bus priorities, cycle ways and even heavy rail to a part of Auckland not served by rail as of current. I suppose I could have the last laugh after the project was mothballed in 2004 and how (as it would have been completed by now) it could have made a pure crap day just that slightly bit better for those stuck last night…