Dear Jacinda . . .
Auckland’s Mayor has revealed his priorities for projects from the Government’s infrastructure fund. Tom Dillane looks at what may be in the pipeline
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has written a letter to the Prime Minister with his wishlist for $12b in infrastructure spending. Find out what he wants.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has disclosed the “sensible wish list” he sent to the Prime Minister advising how he’d like the Government’s $12 billion infrastructure fund spent on Auckland.
In December, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the Government will spend an extra $12 billion on infrastructure, split across new roading, rail, schools and healthcare projects.
Specific “shovel-ready” projects will take $8 billion of this, with a further $4 billion on hand for future spending.
However, as yet, Robertson has only outlined broad allocations of the $8b “shovel-ready” funds: $6.8b transport, $400m on schools, $300m for regional investment, $300m for DHBs, $200m for public estate decarbonisation
Announcements on specific projects to be funded are expected this month.
Goff says he has spoken to the Finance Minister three times regarding Auckland’s allocation of the $12 billion, and has been told he “won’t be disappointed”.
“We’ve given them a smorgasbord of projects and we know they won’t all be done,” Goff says.
“But we want to make sure we get our fair proportionate share, given Auckland is taking nearly half of all the population growth in this country over the next decade,”
Here are the priority projects Goff outlined in a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:
These projects are already outlined in the 2018-28 Auckland Transport Alignment Plan (ATAP). Goff wants the $12b to bring their delivery date forward:
Third main heavy rail trunk line from Quay St/Britomart station to Wiri Station (to cost $172m and expected to be finished by 2023), plus electrification of Papakura to Pukekohe line ($232m by 2024) (Fig 1)
Auckland city’s southern heavy rail line currently only has two tracks shared between passenger trains and freight trains from the Ports of Auckland travelling to the port’s warehouse in Wiri. A third line would free up passenger capacity.
“We’ve had a huge increase in passenger trips to over 22 million a year on rail and at the same time quite a lot of freight travelling by rail,” Goff tells the Weekend Herald.
The electrification of the southern Papakura to Pukekohe stretch of rail, which is currently diesel, will provide a seamless service from Pukekohe to the city centre, removing the need for a train changeover. It will also remove the last of Auckland’s diesel passenger trains.
Grade separation of Auckland’s train lines from street level crossings ($239m by 2028) (Fig 2)
The increasing frequency of Auckland passenger trains means there is now one every 10 minutes across the network. And this frequency will increase when the City Rail Link is operational.
Like many cities around the world, Auckland has slated in the ATAP to remove as many street-level rail crossings as possible.
“We need to grade-separate the rail crossings, and that’s unbelievably expensive,” Goff said.
“You either put the road underneath it or over the top of it. You won’t have the money to do everywhere, but that is another option for use of capital.”
Complete shoulder lanes and construct bus terminals to create an “interim” NorthWest Busway decisions on preferred options early 2020, implementation date uncertain (Fig 3)
The Northwestern motorway from Te Atatu¯ to Massey has shoulder lanes on the edges of its car lanes large enough to accommodate buses. Yet buses aren’t yet allowed to use them.
In November, Transport Minister and Te Atatu¯ MP Phil Twyford said the NZ Transport Agency was looking at building dedicated bus lanes on the shoulder of the motorway with station interchanges at Te Atatu¯ and Westgate.
Goff would like this confirmed in the $12 billion.
“We’re always keen on getting a bus to our NorthWest, even if it’s a temporary measure such as shoulder busways before we’ve got a rapid public transit there such as light rail,” he says.
Bring forward Government roading priorities for Auckland: Mill Rd Corridor ($507m spent over 2023-28) and Penlink ($200m spent over 2024-28) (Fig 4)
The Mill Rd Corridor project is a fourlane upgrade of Redoubt Rd leading into Mill Rd which shoots off from State Highway 1 in Manukau through to Drury.
Safety upgrades to the Redoubt Rd/Mill Rd stretch will also address 25 per cent of the Auckland region’s high-risk intersections.
“The upgrade of Mill Rd right through to Drury is critical as an alternative to State Highway 1,” Goff says.
“Drury is the single biggest greenfield housing development that we’ll see in Auckland. They’ll be another 23,000 houses going in there.”
Goff also wants the delivery of Penlink to be brought forward, connecting the Whangapara¯oa Peninsula with State Highway 1. Construction of Penlink is still scheduled for later in the next decade.
“That’s an area where we already own most of the land and the consenting process is straightforward and much of it done already,” Goff says.
The following two projects are not part of ATAP. Goff says he “threw in as much in hope as in expectation”:
● Bring forward the 2025 deadline to fully electrify Auckland’s bus fleet Auckland Transport is committed to exclusively purchasing electric buses by 2025. Until then the city will still be complementing the purchase of some new electric buses with new diesel buses. Unfortunately, electric buses cost double the price of a diesel bus.
“If the Government were to extend the freebate they were proposing to incentivise electric cars, to also incentivise electric buses earlier than
2025, that would be welcome,” Goff says.
“Maybe that won’t meet the Government’s criteria [for the $12b fund] of impacting on the economy by creating jobs.
“But it will meet their criteria in terms of tackling our carbon-emitting problems. Forty-six per cent of Auckland’s emissions are from road transport.”
● New onshore New Zealand recycling processing plants
The mayor says two new onshore recycling plants — one for paper, one plastic — are “urgently needed”, somewhere in New Zealand
He says following China’s “National Sword” policy enacted in January 2018, banning the import of most plastics and other materials to be recycled in their country, New Zealand has just started sending its recycling to Indonesia and Malaysia.
“We as a country badly need to reprocess our recycling onshore. We are sending thousands of tons of recycling offshore.
“To get the economy of scale you probably won’t have more than one reprocessing plant for plastic, one reprocessing plant for paper.
“It doesn’t have to be near Auckland but we’re a third of the country, so that’s a third of the recycling that doesn’t have to be transported too far.”
Other projects in Goff ’s letter
● Infrastructure investment to advance the Auckland Housing Programme
● Infrastructure to support housing and urban development in Auckland’s south (eg Drury) and alleviate pressure on strategic transport corridors
● Potential eletricfication of ferries, to reduce carbon emissions, and match incentives to promote electric car purchases
● Improvements to the Northern Busway — shoulder running busway from Albany to Silverdale on SH1
● Bring forward walking and cycling infrastructure to alleviate congestion and address carbon emissions.