Auckland to Whangarei motorway on the cards

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A motorway from Auckland to Whangarei has been flagged by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Speaking at today’s sod turning to mark the start of the $709.5 million Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, Bridges said over time the motorway would extend to Whangarei, a distance of 162km.

Prime Minister John Key and Bridges turned the first sod during a tour of roading projects north of Auckland, including a new roundabout in the township of Waimaukau. Bridges said the Government had pledged to build a four-lane road of national significance from Puhoi to Wellsford and the entire corridor to Whangarei was very important.

“A lot of people talk about the Brynderwyns and the need for a very strong solution there. “You have got Northport up closer to Whangarei, which is again justification for doing a much more significant job all the way. “Whether that’s to road of national significance standard or something different to that I couldn’t say at the moment … but as Transport Minister I’m very attracted to progress more significant road improvements, not just through to Wellsford but up to Whangarei,” Bridges said.

He said realistically it was not five or six years away, but probably a decade of more away. New Zealand Transport Agency chairman Chris Moller said the agency was looking at the Whangarei to Auckland connection but a motorway could be 30 years away. The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extends 18.5km over difficult terrain from the Johnstone Hills tunnels just south of Puhoi to just north of Warkworth.

sssCritics have nicknamed it the “holiday highway” to the intense annoyance of Northland leaders. The new motorway will have two lanes in each direction divided by a central median with a safety barrier. Both Bridges and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell stressed the safety benefits of the new motorway. Said Mitchell: “Safety is definitely a No 1 concern. Unfortunately the piece of road we have to use at the moment comes with hazards and we have too many serious injuries and fatal accidents on that piece of road.”

The project is the second public private partnership (PPP) for a state highway, after the Transmission Gully motorway in Wellington. Under the latest PPP, the Northern Express Group will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway for the 25 years following a five-year build. The motorway is due for completion in 2021. Incentives built into the contract will ensure the motorway is one of the safest in New Zealand with lower grades and be more resilient to natural disasters and road closures.

Bridges said a decision had not been made on whether to toll the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway. Route protection of the next stage of the motorway from Warkworth to Wellsford is underway. The NZ Transport Agency is planning to release an indicative route early next year. The Automobile Association is delighted that construction is officially underway on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension. “Many people from outside Northland don’t understand what a vital step forward this is for us,” AA Northland District Chairman Steve Westgate said. “It’s not just about safer, quicker and more reliable journeys, it’s about the economic opportunities that come with it. This project will improve our connections with Auckland, New Zealand and the world.”

Source:

  • Bernard Orsman
  • NZ Herald

 

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SkyPath gains consent

skypath_620x310The SkyPath cycling and walking attachment to the Auckland Harbour Bridge has been granted resource consent.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the decision is “a real game changer” for the city.

“This exciting project is another part of the physical uniting of Auckland,” Mr Brown said.

“Besides being of enormous benefit to cyclists, it’s a fabulous opportunity for Aucklanders and visitors to the city to walk across and have great views of our spectacular harbour.”.

The decision of the planning commissioners follow a hearing last month on the $33.5 million scheme.

Conceived as a community initiative, SkyPath will be financed by private sector funding as well as by the Auckland Council, where users pay an entrance fee to fund its construction and operation.

The covered pathway is planned to be a minimum of 4m wide, extending to 6m at five viewing platforms and is expected users will have to pay a toll of between $2 and $4 each way.

SkyPath will connect to the Westhaven walking and cycling promenade, where pedestrians, joggers and cyclists can get to the city via Wynyard Quarter.

Mr Brown said the next step to enable the project to proceed will be a report to be completed by Council staff on the proposed commercial arrangements and recommendations on how to proceed from there.

The backers of the scheme say the SkyPath will be made of a series of composite material U-beams that clip onto the underside of the eastern edge of the bridge, with a composite foam core deck.

“Horizontal composite rods are spaced out across the enclosure to allow viewing and maintaining safety,” an Auckland Council official said.

Generation Zero, a group working to cut carbon pollution, said it was “elated” that the project has been given the go ahead.

“SkyPath will be an iconic addition to the city, as well as a key transport link,” said group spokesman Sudhvir Singh

The application received 11,586 submissions with 11,413 in support, five neutral and 168 against.

There is a 15 working day appeal period.

Source:

  • NZ Herald

Warped bridge highlights earthquakes power

 

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The Richmond bridge, warped beyond repair in the February 2011 earthquake, became a symbol of the quake’s destructive power…

To read more follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=666

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New Ferrymead Bridge confirmed

After months of delay, the Christchurch City Council has settled on a design for the new Ferrymead bridge, but it will be another three years before construction is finished (see artists impression above).

The council had hoped to have a new bridge in place by 2014 and it forecast construction would cost about $10 million, but it now appears those projections were overly optimistic.

Council transport and green space manager Alan Beuzenberg said yesterday the design of the bridge had taken longer than expected because geotechnical investigations had shown the underlying rock needed for the foundation was of variable condition.

‘‘This has required significant additional design to ensure the structure will meet the new [earthquake] design requirements. This has resulted in it taking much longer than expected to finalise a design and it is likely to have an impact on the cost,’’ he said.

The design for the bridge had been completed and the project was being priced. It would be four lanes, with separate pedestrian and cycle lanes.

Construction of the bridge would involve improvements to the Bridle Path intersection layout. Work on the bridge was expected to begin in early February and would take three years.

In the meantime, Beuzenberg said, work was continuing at the site to relocate utility services to the temporary bridges and prepare for work to begin on the new structure early next year.

‘‘In recent weeks there has been good progress in relocating the sewer, water, electricity and telecommunications services to the temporary structures with traffic now expected to be driving over by mid-January,’’ he said.

The bridge has long been identified as a weak link in Christchurch’s transport network because the soil on which it sits is prone to liquefaction and because the piles are not founded to bedrock. The bridge was being strengthened and widened when the February 2011 earthquake hit, causing structural damage.

Source:

  • The Press
  • Lois Cairns lois.cairns@press.co.nz
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