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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Western Motorway Upgrade – Auckland

 

Source: NZTA

Commercial Bay – Auckland

Source: P Precinct

NZ internet going forward

New Zealand has relied on two cables to keep in touch with the rest of the world, but things are changing!

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Two cables connect our country to the rest of the world. As an island at the bottom of the world, we’d be otherwise isolated and reliant on satellites for connectivity. In comparison, the west coast of America has 14 cables landing at different sites from Washington to California.

The Southern Cross Cable connects New Zealand, Australia and Fiji to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States.

It’s our main source of internet, and is able to carry a capacity of 12 terabits per second. The network of cables that make up the Southern Cross is in total 30,500 km long.

It comes ashore in New Zealand at two Auckland sites, Takapuna and Whenuapai, and construction was completed in 2001.

New Zealand and Australia are connected by the Tasman 2 cable. It’s a very old cable built in 1992 and has low capacity. It provides a form of redundancy for some services.

People, especially folk in the technology industry, fear for New Zealand’s reliance on the Southern Cross Cables. If something were to happen to break the cables, New Zealand would be cut off from the rest of the world.

But, there are more cables being developed.

Spark, Vodafone and Telstra have teamed up and are in the process of laying a new submarine cable connecting New Zealand and Australia. The Tasman Global Access will come ashore in Raglan in New Zealand and Oxford Falls, Sydney in Australia.

The TGA cable will feature two fibre pairs with total capacity of 20 terabits per second. Australia has strong connectivity with Asia, where internet traffic is growing as local economies grow. Moana Cable is a submarine cable system through the Pacific to New Zealand being rolled out by 2018 by Bluesky and Alcatel-Lucent.

The Moana Cable, will connect New Zealand to Hawaii through Samoa and American Samoa, while also linking the Cook Islands to the Samoa hub. Bluesky plans to expand the Moana Cable to reach Niue, Tokelau and French Polynesia.

Adolfo Montenegro is the chief executive of the Pacific telecommunications company Bluesky and is focused on improving internet access in the Pacific. “Our vision is to connect the Pacific community around the world. We do that with a common and shared purpose and shared values… its very consistent with the Pacific Island culture,” Montenegro said.

The Hawaiki Cable is, similarly, planned to connect New Zealand to Hawaii and the United Sates. The Hawaiki Cable would not come ashore in the Pacific islands, however.

The cable was progressing according to plan, and was due for completion in 2017.

Source:

  • Sophie Ryan
  • NZ Herald

Luxury apartments for Christchurch

getimage (15)Christchurch’s tallest post-quake apartment complex is about to take shape opposite Cranmer Square. To be called West Kilmore Precinct, a $40 million plus complex will be erected 11 storeys tall with apartments priced between $450,000 and at least $1.2 million. The site is the corner of Kilmore St and Cranmer Square where Ernst and Young House stood before the quakes.

Christchurch property developer Grant MacKinnon is behind the project. His previous projects include the now-demolished Gallery Apartments in Gloucester St. MacKinnon has an investor he does not wish to name, but confirmed it was a local now living overseas. Although building height restrictions in the area were lowered to 11 metres in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, MacKinnon has existing use rights to build more than twice as high.

West Kilmore Precinct will consist of four buildings with different heights. Stage one will have 15 one and two bedroom apartments priced from $450,000 to $950,000, and is due to be finished in winter. Stage two will be two-connected buildings finished in mid-2017. They will be 11-storeys high with 35 apartments of up to three bedrooms and priced from $500,000 to $1.2 million. The third stage had not been finalised but would have six ‘‘higher end’’ apartments.

getimage (16)The complex will be full height facing north, with roof heights stepped down towards the south. MacKinnon bought the property in 2012 with the apartment plan in mind. He believes it is one of the best sites in the city, with views over both Cranmer Square and Hagley Park. About 20 of the apartments are pre-sold or under option. However he described the highend apartment market in the central city as difficult. ‘‘It’s a hard market to work in. Lots of people are looking and some are buying, but they’re careful”. ‘‘But we are appealing to some people. It’s a small number and there is still some nervousness about coming back into the central city but that’s rapidly falling away.’’

MacKinnon said he was pleased to see other apartment developments in the area. These include developer New-Urban Group’s Chinese-backed low-rise 30-apartment plan for the old Cranmer Courts site across the road, and the eight-storey Verve Precinct apartments going up to replace The Est@blishment on Peterborough St. ‘‘It’s encouraging that other people are doing it as well, as long as they do it right,’’ MacKinnon said.

Other apartment developments have failed to get traction, including the Miro complex planned for Colombo St and the Crown-run Breathe urban village project opposite Latimer Square. Real estate agent Mark O’Loughlin of Harcourts, who is marketing West Kilmore and specialises in central city apartment developments, said demand was coming from younger owners or investors wanting ‘‘affordable’’ apartments, and ‘‘younger baby boomers’’ looking for a lifestyle.

There was very little demand for family apartments in the central city, he said. O’Loughlin said there seemed to be a recent groundswell of buyers looking at inner city apartments, and he had sold more in the past six months than at any time since the quakes.

Source:

  • The Press
  • Liz McDonald

Crane’s on the up!

b05da9d38926ca2edb40cabe148a38a0ab0f51fd_620x310The Rider Levett Bucknall Crane Index revealed that Auckland is the country’s crane capital with 33 followed by Christchurch with 31.

Auckland director Chris Haines said there were now 79 cranes up nationally and the busiest sectors were commercial followed by multi-level residential buildings.

In the past six months 43 new cranes were installed nationally: 17 in Auckland and 23 in Christchurch.

The crane count provides a good, simple indication of new building activity as well as general economic activity in each of these locations, the business said.

The index tracked activity in the last quarter in Auckland and showed that within the commercial sector, three cranes were erected including on Datacom in Gaunt St and at Britomart. Commercial projects nearing completion include the St Albans development and Mansons in Victoria St West, Rider Levett Bucknall said.

“The Wynyard Quarter currently has three tower cranes. While five cranes have been removed from residential sites , 10 have been erected. New projects include The Pulse, Symonds St, Wakefield St, Augustus Tce, Rosedale Rd, Swanson St, Rangitiri Rd and Windsor Park,” Rider said. “Cranes have been removed from Howe St, Newton Rd, Exmouth Tce, Carlaw Park and Karangahape Rd. In the civil sector, cranes have been removed from Waterview Tunnel, the Lincoln Rd widening project and Te Atatu interchange but three cranes have been sighted on the SH20A roads and bridge works … ”

Source:

  • NZ Herald

SCIRT, an update

getimage (7)The multi billion-dollar programme to fix Christchurch’s broken roads, bridges, footpaths and underground pipes is more than three-quarters complete.

But do not expect to see an end to the road cones and detours any time soon.

‘‘There is still a big programme to deliver even after Scirt winds up in December 2016,’’ said Christchurch City Council infrastructure rebuild general manager John Mackie.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt), which is funded by the council and the Government, has completed 78 per cent of its repair and rebuild programme and should have the balance of its work wrapped up by the end of next year.

As at the end of August it had repaired or replaced 420 km of wastewater pipe, 42 km of stormwater pipe, 79 km of freshwater pipe, and more than 1 million square metres of road.

It has also fixed or replaced 84 pump stations and reservoirs, 126 bridges and culverts, and 124 retaining walls.

That work has so far cost $1.72 billion. It is forecast another $472.5 million will be spent between now and the end of the programme.

Scirt executive general manager Ian Campbell said the team was working very hard to ensure it had all the construction it was scheduled to do completed by the December 2016 deadline.

Scirt’s priority had been to fix the worst of the damage first, starting in the east, but as the programme moved towards conclusion more work would begin in the city’s west.

With most of the major repair projects either completed or under way, some lower priority jobs could be tackled.

‘‘We are now getting into more patch repairs and trenchless stuff. The work is becoming more patchy and piecemeal so what that will look like for people is they will see us moving around a bit more. The traffic management will change more often because we’ll be doing small amounts of work in more locations,’’ Campbell said.

‘‘We appreciate the support of the community . . . It has been a long slog for them putting up with the road works and we just hope we can count on their support for one more year.’’

Mackie said he was ‘‘reasonably satisfied’’ with the progress that had been made on repairing and rebuilding the city’s damaged horizontal infrastructure, but there was still a lot to do.

Not all of that work would be covered by the Scirt programme because of funding constraints.

‘‘Not everything in the city will be fixed. There will still be work to do,’’ Mackie said.

‘‘The biggest issue is funding. We could do so much more if that wasn’t a constraint, but we have to work within the means of the organisations – Crown and council.’’

Once Scirt was wound-up, responsibility for any outstanding repairs would fall to the council.

It was working on a programme to prioritise those repairs and would start with main arterial roads before turning its attention to small collector and local roads, Mackie said.

Source:

  • Lois Cairns
  • The Press
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