It's summer, and that means packing the car and getting stuck in holiday traffic on route to the bach and beach. To help plan the trip, transport reporter Bernard Orsman updates progress on some of our biggest motorway projects.
Just when the latest plans for a second harbour crossing appeared to be going along swimmingly, along comes another delay.
Light rail, or modern trams, are favoured by the NZ Transport Agency as the preferred mode of transport running under the harbour for a second harbour crossing with construction due to start in the late 2030s.
However, the business case for the project has been delayed by six months.
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NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said the business case would determine the process of identifying and protecting required land for the project, the transport mix, alignment, connections and timing.
Ever since the Auckland Harbour Bridge opened 60 years ago, a second harbour crossing has been mooted.
There has been talk of a new bridge, tunnels under the Waitemata Harbour, a rail crossing and a radical idea of demolishing the existing bridge for a new arching structure supporting a splay of cables in the shape of a sail.
The 2007 sail design by a team and architects and engineers would carry cars, buses, bicycles, pedestrians and possibly light rail.
Fast forward to 2019 and NZTA said the best option was a combination of a light rail tunnel plus road pricing. A combined road and light rail, and doing nothing, have been discounted.
Truck restrictions could be needed on the harbour bridge by about 2030 and a new form of rapid transit will be required the mid 2030s when the Northern Busway reaches capacity, the agency has told Transport Minister Phil Twyford.
Former Kaipatiki Local Board member Nick Kearney posted on Facebook he had received the same analysis from NZTA eight years ago about restricting heavy vehicles on the bridge and a tunnel proposal.
"This is a classic case of paralysis by analysis. I don't expect any government to campaign for tolls to be introduced on the current bridge. It is also clear that by pushing out the date to 2030, politicians can, and will, kick the can down the road," Kearney said on social media.
There will almost certainly be more proposals on a second harbour crossing - NZTA are unlikely to push the light rail option if there is a change of government - but Twyford has pointed out it will take 10 years to plan a second harbour crossing and a further five to 10 years to build.
In the meantime, the current $3 billion programme of motorway projects in Auckland is expected to be finished by 2022 with little in the way of new roading projects in the pipeline.
There are some big projects to take their place, like Watercare's $1.2 billion giant sewer pipeline, the $4.4b City Rail Link and the Government's plans for light rail running into billions of dollars.
But when it comes to new roads, the only confirmed projects are a $70m road safety project on SH16 between Brigham Creek and Waimauku in West Auckland due to start early next year and making a start to widen SH1 from Papakura to Drury late next year.
Four people have died and 30 seriously injured on the section of SH16 between 2006 and 2015 with more than a third of these crashes caused by drivers losing control and hitting an oncoming vehicle.
The transport agency says something has to change and plans a raft of changes, including installing flexible road safety barriers, an extra lane in each direction between Brigham Creek and Taupaki roundabout and a roundabout at the SH16/Coatesville Riverhead Highway intersection.
The project has been split into two stages. Stage one runs from Huapai to Waimauku, which has been prioritised because that is where half of the crashes are head-on. Design work is complete and work will start in the New Year, subject to gaining consents. NZTA plans to update the community early next year on timeframes and the construction programme.
The design of stage two between the Brigham Creek roundabout to Kumeu is still to be confirmed.
Among new motorway projects in the pipeline are widening SH1 between Papakura and Bombay, improving access to Auckland Airport from the southwest, new roads to support growth in the north and south and upgrading SH22 between Drury and Paerata.
The south is the largest urban growth area in Auckland than 5000ha of greenfield land set aside for about 40,000 houses around Drury, Paerata and Takanini over the next 30 years.
The SH1 Papakura to Bombay project will build on the Southern Corridor improvements between Manukau and Papakura to provide extra lanes, new local road connections, wider shoulders for public transport, integration with future rail stations and a shared walking and cycle path.
Construction on the first stage between Papakura and Drury is expected to start late next year to add a third lane in each direction and an upgrade of the Drury interchange and local connections across the motorway. There is no start date for stage two between Drury and Bombay, including a new interchange at Drury South.
This feeds into the "Supporting Growth Programme" in the south and north, which includes $63m Matakana link road to improve the infamous Hill St intersection bottleneck due to start later this year. Auckland Transport announced in July it was looking at the possibility of building the new link road with four lanes, instead of initially building it in two stages with two lanes at the outset and four lanes as traffic demand grows.
Over the coming decades, Warkworth and surrounds will follow Albany, going from a quiet rural town to suburban sprawl with thousands of new homes and businesses.
Improved access to southwest Auckland will take the form of three projects. Rapid transit - probably buses - between the airport, Manukau and Botany, led by Auckland Transport; improvements to State Highways 20, 20A and 20B to make it easier traveling around the south-west and a massive $1.8b upgrade of Auckland Airport.
In the past couple of months, work has started on the new $60m Puhinui interchange to provide a seamless experience for commuters travelling on rail to Puhinui and jumping on a bus to airport. It is due for completion in early 2021.
Another major roading project down the list is the Mill Rd corridor running east of SH1 from Manukau to Drury, which the previous National Government planned to build at a cost of $1b if re-elected.
The Labour Government is partnering on Mill Rd with Auckland Council, which has set aside $507m over the next decade for the 20km corridor. The plan is to start work on the northern section between 2024 and 2028 and deliver it in stages over several decades.
In the short-term, Auckland Transport is looking to address some safety and congestion issues. A trial of safety improvements are expected to be in place at the intersection of Murphys Rd and Redoubt Rd by mid next year. Dynamic lanes are also being put in place on Redoubt Rd between the Southern Motorway off ramp and Hollyford Drive.
A big roading project that has fallen victim to politics is the east-west link running through Auckland's industrial belt, connecting SH1 at Sylvia Park with SH20 at Onehunga.
Labour cancelled National's proposal for the east-west link, costed at between $1.25b and $1.85b, and set aside $800m for a revised project. The NZTA board received an update in March this year and due for another update early in 2020.
There are five appeals to planning consents granted in January 2018 and the existing designation will remain in place until the next steps are taken.
An NZTA spokesman once there is a clearer path for the project, the agency will work with Auckland Council, Panuku Development Auckland, which is undertaking a regeneration project at Onehunga and its waterfront; and other stakeholders to provide a clear scope and timelines.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford is an observer, waiting to see what alternatives
NZTA comes up with for what has been a flash point between truckies, greenies, residents and mana whenua through an industrial corridor that employs 68,000 people and contributes $4.6b a year to Auckland's economy.
Jim Jackson, of The Onehunga Enhancement Society (Toes) said: "If we get this wrong we will be living with the consequences for the next 100 years."
Monday: Auckland and Waikato's $3.2b programme
Tuesday: Auckland's misery
Wednesday: Waikato Expressway
Thursday: Heading North
Today: Future projects