The chief executive of Ports of Auckland claims he wasn't told before the public of the Quay St roadworks starting, which has led to "havoc" with freight entering the port.

The reduction of the street to a single lane, which is the sole road entrance to the port, has led to "significant complaints" from the trucking industry on delays, says Tony Gibson, the head of the billion-dollar council-owned facility .

While he and the ports' management were aware of the $321 million "enhancement" plans for Quay St in downtown Auckland, he claims they were given no forewarning of construction actually beginning in December 2018.

"Our infrastructure manager, Alistair Kirk, sits on a number of committees which includes what was going on around Quay St, and at no time at those meetings were we ever informed about when it was likely to happen," Gibson said.

Advertisement

Auckland Transport (AT) is overseeing various construction projects on Quay St leading to the 2021 America's Cup, including strengthening the sea wall, and permanently reducing four lanes of traffic to two.

"When it was announced by AT we said, 'We really need to see the [traffic] modelling', and we asked AT, 'What impact will this have on traffic flows?'" Gibson said.

"The impression we got from them at that stage was there'll be no impact. But that's a ridiculous scenario, because there has been significant impact and I would have thought beforehand they would have thought about the impact, both on freight, but also on people, as a result of the works.

"Unless you get the freight right and integrated, then you're going to cause havoc, and that's exactly what it has caused."

Quay St is having a major overhaul that is causing headaches for vehicles and pedestrians. Photo / Dean Purcell
Quay St is having a major overhaul that is causing headaches for vehicles and pedestrians. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Weekend Herald reported on April 13 peak-hour travel times along Quay St have more than doubled this year - taking over 22 minutes for a 1.8km journey when tested.

AT chief executive Shane Ellison said in a statement it had received no "specific" complaints from PoAL about trucking companies facing turnaround delays.

He maintained that PoAL had been involved in planning for the waterfront with AT since early 2017 but he did not specify whether Gibson had been told before the public.

"Since mid-2018, PoAL representatives have participated in regular stakeholder meetings involving PoAL representatives covering many issues important to them – this includes addressing concerns raised around access to Queens Wharf and Princes Wharf, both during and after utilities relocations, and in the lead-up to the start of main works."

Advertisement
Auckland's Quay St is having a major overhaul that is causing headaches for vehicles and pedestrians. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland's Quay St is having a major overhaul that is causing headaches for vehicles and pedestrians. Photo / Dean Purcell

Gibson publicly expressed his displeasure to Auckland councillors at a meeting and said he made the "flippant comment" that "I found out [about Quay St works] as a member of the public on Facebook".

Auckland Councillor Desley Simpson was at the meeting.

"The fact nobody picked up the phone to talk to Ports of Auckland's CEO who arguably leads our biggest commercial operation on the waterfront is an absolute disgrace," she said.

Transport advocacy group National Road Carriers chief executive David Aitken said congestion for freight travelling into PoAL was "definitely a problem" repeatedly expressed by truck drivers.

The projects currently impacting Quay St are the strengthening of the sea wall. Photo / Dean Purcell
The projects currently impacting Quay St are the strengthening of the sea wall. Photo / Dean Purcell

"No one has been able to show us any modelling before they did this work on what it would do to traffic flows," Aitken said.

"It's [Quay St road works] having a massive effect on congestion and travel times.

"Containers are sitting on wharfs longer, someone's got to pay for that. Also, the amount of time they're sitting in traffic. It costs about $120 per hour to run a truck."

There were approximately 2000 truck movements in and out of the PoAL daily, Aitken said.

In 2015 the land PoAl occupies was valued at $2.2 billion, and the port itself as a commercial operation over $500 million.

Approximately 2000 trucks enter the Ports of Auckland daily. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Approximately 2000 trucks enter the Ports of Auckland daily. Photo / Jason Oxenham

AT's Ellison said signals at the PoAL entrance intersection are actively monitored and changed to ensure the smooth movement of freight in and out of the port, and around the city centre.

AT said it had devised several Traffic Management Plans for "maintaining through-traffic capacity" on Quay St, including some restrictions on turning movements into and out of side streets and traffic light phasing.

Despite this, Gibson said his own requests to AT for its modelling on the traffic impact of the Quay St works have been declined.

"They say they have [modelled traffic impacts] but they haven't shared it," Gibson said.

"I mean what would happen in any other city is you would model it, and they would provide alternate routing."