Auckland Transport is looking at a bylaw change to give them greater powers to penalise private companies who don't finish construction projects on time in an effort to relieve city traffic.
AT's general manager of networks Mark Lambert told Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye they were looking to place greater scrutiny on private developments that are over schedule.
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Lambert says most construction in Auckland CBD is not council or government public works, and said up to 70 per cent of the construction clutter is because of private developments.
"However all works applications on the network happen through Corridor Access Requests to AT," Lambert said. "Developers must provide Temporary Traffic Management Plans, which are not all approved at present. However, there is minimum enforcement opportunities where works are delayed and have a longer impact on the transport system.
"We are looking at opportunities for regulatory change to enable greater enforcement of delays to third-party works programmes."
AT media manager Mark Hannan clarified to the Herald on Sunday this week laws do not "incentivise compliance" for private works to finish on time.
"Auckland Transport is doing a review of our regulatory powers to see if we need more enforcement powers. At present our powers are quite limited and do not incentivise compliance," AT said."We are looking at whether we need a new transport bylaw to make it easier to penalise private companies who do not stick to their works programme. We are also looking at whether we need to go to the government for more help in this area.
"We are talking about any developer who potentially impacts the transport network. This could be blocking a section of road for their construction, blocking bus lanes, not putting in proper traffic or safety control measures."
AT has come under increasing pressure for congestion in the CBD this year, as 63 roadworks will disrupt central city streets. National's Kaye said she thought it was a "good sign" AT were looking at policy changes around penalising late, disruptive private construction in the CBD.
"The fact they're considering a new bylaw, but also whether they need to approach Government around policy changes, I think is positive," Kaye said.
"Obviously we need to see the detail, but it's pretty reasonable for agencies to be able to ensure developments are happening on time, because of the flow on effect for the rest of the city.
"The temptation has been to assume congestion is only the result of public projects but if we are to get serious about ensuring traffic flows well through the city, and public transport can move easily, then we need to make sure public and private works are held to a high standard."
However, Auckland property developer of 30-plus years experience, Peter Jeffries, says any added fines or penalties put on private developers only compounds the problem.
"Delays cost developers thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars already," said Jeffries, who is the chief executive of CORT Community Housing.
"Such new bylaw penalties are unlikely to change anything except put costs up.
"It seems like a knee jerk reaction by AT to people being sick of the works in the city."
Downer Construction said: "We regularly look at options to minimise the impact of our work and would be happy to contribute to a review on this topic to ensure smoother network journeys for the public."
AA's infrastructure advisor Barney Irvine endorsed the steps being taken by AT around a bylaw change, but pointed out local and national governments should operate by the same standards for their projects too.
"This looks like a logical step and it's good to see that AT's thinking about how it can do things better," Irvine said.
"Of course, we'd expect to see AT run the ruler over its own projects in the same way."
AT's plan for a 'one source of the truth' system with NZ Transport Agency
AT is also looking at "joint technology solution" with the NZ Transport Agency to better coordinate major transport infrastructure projects both are doing at the same time.
AT's Lambert says the project seeks to capture all development and works in the greater Auckland area into "one source of the truth" on what is being built when and where.
Much of Auckland's traffic pain is founded on the City Rail Link along the length of Albert St - lasting until 2024 - and the plethora of downtown street and marina upgrades rushed through for the 2021 America's Cup.
The CRL is a Government and NZTA project, and the downtown programme for the America's Cup is being overseen and predominantly funded by AT.
"AT is in the early stages of working with The New Zealand Transport Agency on a joint technology solution to better manage the co-ordination of works, the permitting of Road Corridor Access requests and the enforcement regime," Lambert told Kaye.
Hannan further clarified they are looking at "taking up a notch" the transport operations centre AT and NZTA share on Auckland's North Shore.
"We are working with NZTA on integrating works co-ordination systems," Hannan said
Part of this new system would be to better manage the interactive online customer services AT provides to commuters to plan their trip via car, public transport or by foot, such as the AT journey planner.
Lambert says better comprehending what projects AT and NZTA have on at once and the disruptions they are causing in real time will improve these planners.
"This project seeks to capture all development and works in the greater Auckland area into 'one source of the truth'," Lambert said.
"With this comes a review of our current processes to identify quick wins to enhance customer experience while we are setting the requirements for the new system."