Faster trip to airport

SCCZEN_A_080313NZHDPTRAFFIC03_620x310Traffic will gain clearer runs to and from Auckland Airport from a $140 million accelerated project to turn George Bolt Memorial Drive into a full motorway.

The Transport Agency hopes to start the project in the New Year and complete it in early 2017.

It should be ready at about the same time as the $1.4 billion Waterview connection starts giving drivers faster trips to the airport from downtown Auckland via the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways.

The agency last night disclosed a plan to dig a trench to carry airport traffic under busy Kirkbride Rd in Mangere, and to provide slip lanes to turn the dangerous intersection with George Bolt Memorial Drive into a full motorway interchange.

That will do away with traffic queuing at lights there, improving the reliability of trip times to and from the airport and reducing risks of rear-end crashes.

There have been four fatal crashes between the Southwestern Motorway and Kirkbride Rd since 2004, including one on the intersection, and eight which have caused serious injuries.

The project is part of an $815 million package of accelerated Auckland motorway upgrades announced by the Government in May’s Budget, to be part-funded from a $375 million loan.

Daily vehicle trips to and from the airport precinct are predicted to more than double to 140,000 by 2044.

interchangenewThe plan will also close the George Bolt-Montgomerie Rd intersection further south, meaning trucks going to a rapidly growing industrial park will have to turn off at a big roundabout to Landing Drive, closer to the airport.

But Transport Agency highway manager Brett Gliddon said the airport company had built the roundabout for that purpose and to leave an uninterrupted motorway north of that point.

The agency is also considering closing a motorway exit to Bader Drive further north, causing concern to Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chairwoman Lydia Sosene about the effect on local streets if traffic has to find alternative routes.

She said the community had fought hard for the exit to western Mangere.

Mr Gliddon said a decision about the exit had yet to be made.

The agency wanted to avoid conflicts between traffic accelerating up the future slip lane from Kirkbride Rd, and vehicles cutting across them to the exit.

A possibility was to add an auxiliary lane to what would otherwise be a four-lane motorway running about 4km from Landing Drive to State Highway 20.

Mr Gliddon said disruption to traffic during construction should be minimised by digging the trench slightly west of the existing George Bolt Memorial Drive, while keeping Kirkbride Rd open.

Although there are still no plans to extend the Onehunga railway line to the airport, Mr Gliddon said the motorway would leave room for such a link.


  • NZ Herald
  • Mathew Dearnaley
  • Photo: Dean Purcell

Auckland – $10 Billion do-up

CBDprojectsAuckland is being rebuilt before our eyes, as projects worth at least $10 billion-plus rise across the city.

In one of its biggest transformations, a series of infrastructure, education, roading, commercial, retail, housing and prison projects are rising or planned; much of which is simply catch-up after the global financial crisis.

But economic growth, Auckland’s fast expansion, a critical shortage of residential accommodation, desperate need for big new housing estates, the development of entire new town centres to meet demands, expansion of the workforce, rising population, requirements for better university and school buildings, consumer demand for bigger and better supermarkets, and extending our roading network are just some of the drivers.

The biggest project now on is the $1.5 billion -$2.5 billion Long Bay housing estate and town centre.

Yet Todd Property has only just begun and it will be many years before this vast, controversial new suburb on rolling grassland above the regional park is finished.

The $1.4 billion Waterview twin tunnels motorway job is the second biggest now on but the $2.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) and a $2.4 billion job at Auckland International Airport will top the other jobs.

Property purchases have been made to secure the CRL route but construction is yet to start, while at the airport planning is well advanced for its big transformation.

A string of projects are in the $1 billion league: the new $1 billion Westgate town centre is now well under way by the privately owned NZ Retail Property Group; the University of Auckland’s $1 billion spend planned over a decade is also well advanced; the $1 billion Wynyard Quarter CBD waterfront urban renewal, which will see hundreds of new apartments, a six-star hotel, new transport links, offices, shops and cafes; and the $1 billion Britomart transformation, which is yet to see a big new group of office blocks or a new hotel, all on the drawing board.

After a lull of some years, apartment building is again popular, and private developer Robert Holden, a former Bayleys real estate agent, is one of the busiest with four big jobs including the new Urba now rising by the motorway in Freemans Bay.

Construction work ground almost to a halt last decade when a number of developers folded, taking many finance companies with them.

Now, demand has risen, money is easier to get and tower cranes dot the skyline. The work is not being funded by mum and dad investors, buying bonds in mezzanine finance companies. Much of this work is backed by our major trading banks, extremely keen to lend to businesses with strong balance sheets, like giant $1.7 billion-plus Precinct Properties, which is required to be transparent about its accounting because it is NZX-listed.

Banks are also solidly backing Ryman Healthcare which has a $710 million Auckland spend-up planned after buying many hectares of land across the city.

But the taxpayer is also footing the bill: the Government is a huge player, pouring money into the transport network and other infrastructure and educational work.

To see a city change before your eyes, don’t blink. Watch this space.


  • Anne Gibson
  • The Herald
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