National's Nikki Kaye yesterday instigated a crisis briefing with Auckland Transport to explain the planning logic behind the "perfect storm" of road work reducing the city centre to a standstill.

The Auckland Central MP is calling for a review of the consent planning for government and private developments as 63 Auckland CBD streets will be disrupted by public projects alone in 2020.

READ MORE:
Auckland commuters set to return to 33 street roadworks maze
Roadworks to shut some lanes over Auckland Harbour Bridge
Premium - Long-running roadworks on Southern Motorway finally at an end
Festive road works: New seal to slow Auckland Harbour Bridge traffic

The traffic cone minefield is founded on the two major projects of 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.

Advertisement

However, more than 50 other roadwork and public space projects have been scheduled by AT across city streets in 2020.

This is not to mention the private developments which make up 30 to 70 per cent of CBD construction projects approved for resource consent by Auckland Council.

Kaye was compelled to arrange a briefing with a group of AT senior staff on Friday morning, after numerous complaints from constituents on the scale of works in central Auckland.

"Better co-ordination and sequencing of AT, City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) and private development works is needed to deliver a more efficient way of dealing with congestion and impacts of roadworks," Kaye said

"I realise some would say the perfect storm has emerged with the CRLL progressing, works for the America's Cup, cycleways and buildings being progressed.

"All are worthwhile initiatives but there comes a point when people are stuck in traffic or feel shut out of the city, Aucklanders and businesses suffer.

"It is very positive that we are progressing a number of works but the scale of projects has brought central Auckland to gridlock at times."

Roadworks at the corner of Victoria St West and Wellesley St West, Auckland CBD, early January 2020. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Roadworks at the corner of Victoria St West and Wellesley St West, Auckland CBD, early January 2020. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Roadworks on the corner of Victoria St West and Wellesley St West, Auckland CBD, early January 2020. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Roadworks on the corner of Victoria St West and Wellesley St West, Auckland CBD, early January 2020. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Kaye said she had written to Mayor Phil Goff and AT chief executive Shane Ellison suggesting improvements to the planning between government agencies and private sector development consents.

Her requests include:
• Better management of timing between private development consents and Auckland transport or utility works.

• Ensuring better enforcement mechanisms where there are private development delays.

Advertisement

• Consideration of some additional night works that have minimal or low impact such as road marking, moving trees and small pavement improvements.

• Future investment in co-ordination systems across central, local and private utilities.

"I also believe we need to have clearer and more detailed information about any potential delays. I had a good meeting with Auckland Transport on Friday to discuss these areas and am hopeful for improvements," Kaye said.

Nelson St reduced to one lane due to roadworks causing major congestion in early January 2020. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Nelson St reduced to one lane due to roadworks causing major congestion in early January 2020. Photo / Jason Oxenham

But Auckland Council's director of infrastructure, Barry Potter, refuted a lack of planning has contributed to unnecessary CBD congestion in 2020.

"Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and CRLL work extensively and collaboratively on these projects which are transforming the city centre," Potter said on behalf of Auckland Council, AT and the CRLL management.

"Steering groups made up of representatives from all the parties involved have planned and are overseeing the changes."

Potter noted the body overseeing the City Rail link had changed, but the collaboration between council controlled organisations had never stopped.

"City Rail Link was started when the project was part of Auckland Transport," Potter said.

"When City Rail Link Ltd took over on July 1, 2017 it built a strong and collaborative relationship with Auckland Transport to manage the impact of construction.

"That relationship continues, as does the close collaboration with Auckland Council. Collaboration and agreement around critical roadworks occurs regularly through the steering group."

Quay St, on the waterfront in Auckland's CBD, is having a major overhaul that is causing headaches for vehicles and pedestrians. Photo / File
Quay St, on the waterfront in Auckland's CBD, is having a major overhaul that is causing headaches for vehicles and pedestrians. Photo / File

Downer Construction's GM business excellence, Brooke Dahlberg, also denied construction employees were not working at night as much as possible on the projects they were undertaking in the CBD such as the CRL, downtown public space and Wynyard Edge.

"Within each of these projects there are a number of resource consents and each has a different set of conditions," Dahlberg said.

"Our people are working hard to meet our contractual requirements, follow the conditions for the consent and manage any traffic management conditions and stakeholder expectations."

America's Cup bases under construction in the Viaduct Marina, August 2019. Photo / Jason Oxenham
America's Cup bases under construction in the Viaduct Marina, August 2019. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Aside from the large-scale infrastructure projects under way in the city, there are 39 separate sets of smaller road closures for AT roadworks yet to come in 2020.

Perhaps the most disruptive larger construction project to city commuters at the moment is the reduction of waterside Quay St, and parallel Customs St a block south, to single lanes each way.

Both streets once provided the arterial routes east/west to Auckland's inner city suburbs through the CBD.

Aerial artist's impression of the downtown public space project between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf which began construction on December 2, 2019. Image / Supplied
Aerial artist's impression of the downtown public space project between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf which began construction on December 2, 2019. Image / Supplied

However, now Quay St is the home of five simultaneous AT works under the $332 million downtown programme, designed to be completed by late-2020 for the America's Cup in 2021.

The length of Quay St is being strengthened and a separate "enhancement" of the streetscape will widen footpaths, add trees and street furniture.

Added to this is a suspended waterfront public space jutting out in the downtown ferry basin between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf.

The downtown ferry basin on the west side of Queens wharf is also being redeveloped, and five America's Cup bases are being built in and around the Viaduct Marina at a cost of $250m.

City Rail Link tunnel construction progress in May 2019. Photo / Jason Oxenham
City Rail Link tunnel construction progress in May 2019. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Another majorly disruptive project lasting the first six months of 2020, is the Victoria St cycleway, and road resurfacing.

Victoria St is largely reduced to one lane each way between Beaumont and Nelson Sts - and the intersection of Victoria and Halsey Sts is drastically impinged, with construction workers directing traffic.

Yet the behemoth of city construction is the $4.4 billion City Rail Link which will sequentially dig up and block off Albert St from the Britomart to Karangahape Rd until 2024.

Artist's impression of the City Rail Link Aotea Square station entrance. Image / Supplied
Artist's impression of the City Rail Link Aotea Square station entrance. Image / Supplied
General view of the construction for the City Rail Link, looking up Albert St in Auckland's CBD. Photo / Alex Burton
General view of the construction for the City Rail Link, looking up Albert St in Auckland's CBD. Photo / Alex Burton

Within the tunnel construction for the CRL, underground train stations will be built at Britomart, Albert St (entrances on Victoria and Wellesley Sts) and Karangahape Rd (entrances Mercury Lane and Beresford Square).

Works already under way in the same area to install a cycleway along Karangahape Rd, and upgrade the footpath, will last until late-2020.

All up, council's Barry Potter said $14b was being invested in Auckland over the next decade, and acknowledged residents were in the "midst of a significant transformation".

"We acknowledge that it is not without its challenges, but it is work that will benefit all Aucklanders," Potter said.