Auckland Transport outlines its five biggest infrastructure projects.
1 AMETI Eastern Busway
The $1.4b AMETI Eastern Busway will bring rapid transit travel options to one of Auckland's fastest growing areas with a congestion-free, high frequency, busway that will carry more than 7500 passengers during peak hours between new stations in Botany, Pakuranga, Panmure and onwards to other parts of the region.
The project will enable people to travel by bus and train between Botany and Britomart in less than 40 minutes and includes new cycling and walking connections, transforming Panmure Roundabout into an intersection, a dedicated bridge for buses across Tamaki River, a new flyover connecting Pakuranga Rd with Waipuna Bridge, urban design improvements to the area and major intersection upgrades.
Stage 1 of the project between Panmure and Pakuranga is currently under construction and due for completion in 2021.
Stages 2, 3 and 4 between Pakuranga Plaza and Botany Town Centre are currently in the design and consenting phase and will be due for completion in 2025.
2 Downtown Programme
Over the next 10 years, Auckland Council has a vision to transform the waterfront into an attractive, people friendly environment through the Downtown programme of work.
Auckland Transport will be delivering the first part of this vision, scheduled for completion by December 2020.
Utility relocation work was completed earlier this year and physical work has started on the Quay St strengthening, Quay St enhancement and ferry basin redevelopment projects with start of work for the new Downtown public space and mooring dolphin on Queens Wharf pending resource consents.
3 Airport to Botany Rapid Transit
Auckland Transport is working on delivering a fast, frequent and reliable rapid transit system between Botany, Manukau, Puhinui and the airport. The first stage of this project involves upgrading Puhinui Station to become a new interchange, with direct connections between Manukau and the airport along priority lanes.
Construction on the $60m Puhinui Station Interchange starts next month, with the upgrade expected to be complete by early 2021. The new interchange will allow for a 10-12-minute trip to the airport, 22-26 minutes from the airport to Manukau, 26 minutes from Papakura — and 45 minutes from Britomart to the airport.
Longer-term there will be a Rapid Transit Network (RTN) from Botany to Auckland Airport. Rapid transit is a fast, frequent and high capacity public transport service that travels separate to general traffic in its own corridor, unaffected by congestion.
4 Lincoln Rd
Lincoln Rd is a major arterial connection for West Auckland and is a major component in the regional major roads network. It is also highly congested route. Lincoln Road is the busiest regional arterial road in west Auckland, used by 45,000 to 48,000 vehicles per day.
Auckland Transport is currently in the design stage for a $85m upgrade to start building in 2022. The upgrade will give Lincoln Rd the ability to accommodate predicted traffic growth and provide for the future development of a neighbourhood bus interchange proposed near the motorway.
The proposal is to widen the road to provide an additional transit lane on each side, separated cycle lanes, upgraded intersections and improved traffic signals. At the same time utilities including stormwater treatment will be improved.
5 Matakana Link Road
Construction is scheduled to start early next year on Matakana Link Road which will improve resilience to the Warkworth transport network by providing an alternative route to the busy Hill street intersection.
Over the next 30 years Warkworth is expected to provide 7,500 additional dwellings, or an addition 20,000 people. Stage One will provide a minimum of 800 metres of four lane capacity road.
The budget for Stage One is $62.2m for design, land and construction. AT is currently working through appeals to the MLR consents and designation.
• The City Rail Link and Light Rail are run separately and Auckland Transport has not included these projects in this list.
Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau's infrastructure continues to fail to keep up with the rapid pace of growth in one of the country's economic powerhouses. There are acute issues caused by the failure to keep up with natural population and economic growth, new migrants and the rapid increase in tourist numbers.
The growth has in many cases been a direct result of deliberate agreed strategies like the Auckland Visitor Plan and the Auckland Innovation Plan, which I am personally very familiar with from my previous role at Ateed.
Planning and investment have not kept up with the projected growth. Constant delays and re-litigation of key infrastructure projects has exacerbated an already fraught position. Auckland is also the fulcrum for the regional economy given the importance of the International Airport as New Zealand's passenger and air freight gateway, impacting growth in areas like fresh food exports and international visitors, particularly cruise passengers. The pressure from the increases in visitors is particularly evidenced in the demand for new cruise ship berthing facilities and in the increasing demand for fast, reliable public transport options, particularly to key economic drivers and regions like the airport, film studios, gulf islands, Matakana, Pukekohe and Kumeu.
Auckland's hotels are also typically running at very high occupancy levels — with a wave of hotel construction barely keeping up with demand. We are only expecting even more accommodation issues withApec and the America's Cup.
We need fast public transport links to the airport precinct. The pressure is on to complete the new Puhinui interchange and a dedicated public transport corridor by 2021. This will also provide access for workers travelling to and from what is Auckland's fastest growing commercial area.
While immigration numbers have dropped from about 64,000 to around 50,000, about half of those immigrants stay in Auckland. With skills shortages at acute levels we need these people and we need housing for them. Unfortunately construction of affordable home construction can't keep up and we need new schools to support the new housing areas.
• Brett O'Riley is the chief executive of the EMA.
A 2019 Mercer study found Auckland to be the third most liveable city in the world, a seemingly great outcome for those who live here. But most Aucklanders will tell you the city is straining under its growth. A failure to invest in infrastructure ahead of need is seriously impacting many Aucklanders' way of living.
Auckland's population is growing by a projected 45,000 people p.a. In addition, 2.7 million visitors (71 per cent of NZ's total) came to Auckland last year, injecting $8.5 billion into the local economy but placing even further demands on the city's infrastructure.
Unsurprisingly, Auckland has one of the most expensive housing markets in the world (Demographia 2019) and is the second most congested city in Oceania (TomTom Traffic Index). The city is also having to wrestle with major decisions such as rapid transport to the airport or freeing up access to Waitematā Harbour. Water is also strained, with rising demand for water and wastewater services, and resilience challenges with rising sea levels.
The creation of the Super City has created a much better platform for understanding and prioritising infrastructure needs. However, despite record levels of investment in infrastructure, it should be concerning that the Auckland Transport Alignment Project's $28 billion, 10 year programme will lead to no net improvement in congestion levels and that house prices are among the highest in the world compared with household income.
Infrastructure New Zealand calls for:
• A fundamental review of Crown-Council funding arrangements to allow the benefits of growth (over 90 per cent of which is collected by the Crown in the form of GST, company and income taxes) to be more equitably recycled into growth councils (including Auckland).
• Strong leadership from Te Waihanga, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission. It should be the pre-eminent, independent body which prioritises critical infrastructure projects for New Zealand.
• Significant overhaul of the RMA and the planning system.
• Paul Blair is the incoming chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.
Infrastructure and city building; we all talk about it and how New Zealand cities are constantly behind the eight ball (compared to say their Japanese cousins in infrastructure provision). And though councillor Chris Darby loudly declared that (greenfield) urban development should not occur until the infrastructure was in place I was asked: What do I think is our top infrastructure priority?
You probably think I am going to say: water, sewerage, roads, rail or the so-called physical infrastructure. In this case not today. Our top infrastructure priority is civic infrastructure and it comes in two forms:
1. Hospitals, police, fire, libraries and schools
2. Open space either it be informal recreation, active (sports), regional parks or even the humble dog park
As an urban area grows, pressure does go on the physical infrastructure and we certainly complain about it.
But civic infrastructure is often forgotten about and/or not always at the top of list when it comes to budgets and council long term plans (unless they are in for cuts).
This is not helped by who has jurisdiction (Central e.g. hospitals or Local Government e.g. parks and libraries) and how is it funded (general taxes, clumsy development contributions or rates).
For example: If Auckland Council was to fully realise the amount of open space needed for Auckland as it heads towards two million people, it would cost the city at least $1b to purchase the land then develop it into viable open spaces.
To build a 3000-bed general hospital in South Auckland to cope with that same growth the Finance Minister will need to sign a cheque for $2b minimum.
This is not nickel and dime stuff this is serious coin for our physical and mental well-being (a major bearer in our productivity) in the city and even rural communities! Don't forget about where to place it for maximum catchment either.
What infrastructure should be our top priority? To me it is our often after thought of civic infrastructure — the infrastructure that supports our wellbeing.
• Ben Ross is an urban geographer and researcher. He runs his own blog, Talking Southern Auckland.