Number of cranes goes sky-high

The construction boom is seeing an unprecedented number of cranes rise across New Zealand’s cities, according to research released today. The Q2 2017 RLB Crane Index revealed a record 132 cranes towering over New Zealand’s cities, with Auckland alone accounting for 72.

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“In Auckland, in particular, strong economic growth driven by high inward migration and increasing tourist numbers, along with solid housing activity, manufacturing and consumer spending, has seen the rock star economy continuing to drive the construction industry, where demand is stretching the current supply,” said Chris Haines, Rider Levett Bucknall’s Auckland Director.

“Auckland continues to dominate New Zealand skies with 72 long-term cranes, 55 per cent of all cranes observed across the seven key centres,” Haines said. “The current index highlights a 13 per cent increase in the number of cranes within the Auckland region since the last count in Q4 2016. Twenty-three new cranes have been erected and 15 have been removed from projects that are nearing completion.” Construction work put in place increased by 20 per cent in the 2016 calendar year, making it the fifth consecutive year of growth.

Source:

  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald
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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

 

No room for contractors with criminal convictions

Contractors with serious criminal convictions are set to be barred from Christchurch’s earthquake repair programme.

Fletcher EQR, the project manager for properties with quake damage of $15,000 to $100,000, has launched a six-week trial to screen the backgrounds of prospective workers. Applicants convicted of offences involving theft, dishonesty, violence or the manufacture or use of class A or B drugs in the past seven years would be declined.

A Fletcher EQR spokesman said the trial was requested by the Earthquake Commission (EQC), which began vetting its own contractors last year, and was designed to ‘‘help put people’s minds at rest’’.

However, it did not apply to existing accredited contractors, for whom criminal declarations had been voluntary.

Minor convictions predating seven years would be assessed case by case and any ‘‘serious’’ past convictions, outside the seven-year time frame, would be considered by a joint EQC-EQR panel.

Cases where existing contractors were found to have convictions would be ‘‘judged on merit’’.

EQC customer services general manager Bruce Emson said the qualifications and reputation of Fletcher EQR contractors were checked and there was ‘‘already a significant degree of assurance of their character’’.

‘‘Fletcher contractors are expected to take care in the choice of their employees, and if it became apparent that there were issues with their staff it would result in a review of the contractor’s ongoing involvement with the project,’’ he said. ‘‘Nevertheless, it is hoped that more in-depth vetting will provide greater assurance if the trial proves it to be practical.’’

Labour Party earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel was surprised to learn the policy was not in place already.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said it was an operational matter for EQC and Fletcher EQR. ‘‘But obviously both companies need to be comfortable with the people [doing] work on their behalf.’’

Source:

  • The Press
  • Marc Greenhill marc.greenhill@press.co.nz
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