Media Release: Road Only Auckland Harbour Crossing “Makes No Sense”

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Road Only Auckland Harbour Crossing “Makes No Sense”

The Campaign for Better Transport said today that the Government’s idea of an additional road only Waitemata Harbour Crossing hasn’t been thought through.

“We all know that the Northern Motorway and approaches are notoriously congested at peak times, so local support probably stems from the belief that this congestion will somehow be solved,” said spokesperson Cameron Pitches.

“However, the net effect of a road only crossing will be that in the morning peak, the Auckland CBD will be flooded with thousands of extra single occupant cars looking for a car park. The Central Motorway Junction will also be a bottleneck without more lanes, but there is no room for more.

“And in the evening peak the already congested Northern Motorway will grind to a halt, as six lanes converge into three.”

Mr Pitches says a far better solution would be a rail only crossing that would extend from the City Rail Link to Albany on the North Shore.

“The Northern Busway is enormously popular and is a great example of a system that can carry far more people at peak times than single occupant cars. High capacity rail would be the logical next step.”

Mr Pitches said that a recent report identified that the cost of a rail link connecting the City Rail Link to Albany on the North Shore would be about $2.5bn.

“It is clear that the Government’s proposal and any alternatives have not been through Treasury’s better business case process.  There is no urgency with the project either as the yet to be completed Western Ring Route is designed to reduce traffic volumes on the bridge,” said Mr Pitches.

The Goverment is yet to make an official announcement on how a new crossing would be funded, but Mr Pitches suspects it would have to be tolled due to the multi-billion dollar cost of the project.

“The Government also needs to be honest and reveal how much the toll will be for the new crossing, and if the current Harbour Bridge will be tolled as well.”

“It just makes no sense.  The Government has just been caught out not doing a comprehensive assessment of alternatives for the Basin Reserve.  You would think they would want to avoid making the same mistake twice,” concludes Mr Pitches.

[ends]

For more analysis of the proposed Harbour Crossing, visit transportblog.co.nz:

http://bit.ly/1niNuZq

Election 2014 Public Meeting

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Can Auckland Be Congestion Free?

The Campaign for Better Transport has invited political parties to share their policies for improving transport in Auckland:

  • Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Hall, Freyberg Square, Auckland Central
  • Wednesday 27th August, 7:30pm, building access from 7:00pm.

The following parties have confirmed their attendance:

  • Labour – Phil Twyford
  • Greens – Julie Anne Genter
  • Act – David Seymour
  • NZ First – Denis O’Rourke

A response to our invitation is yet to be received from the National Party.

Each speaker will be given ten minutes, followed by questions from the floor.  Speakers will be expected to state their position on :

  • Transport funding for Auckland transport projects, including public transport, cycling and walking
  • The City Rail Link
  • The Puhoi - Warkworth Toll Road and other Roads of National Significance
  • An additional Waitemata Harbour crossing
  • The Congestion Free Network

Further information to follow.

Annual General Meeting 19th June

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Our Annual General Meeting is set down for:

  • Thursday 19th June 2014, 7:30pm
  • Garden Room, Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road

All members are welcome – please reply to this email if you intend on coming so that we can get an idea of the numbers to expect.

Nominations for committee positions are also welcome.   Beyond the monthly committee meetings, ideally candidates should have the time and energy to contribute to our on-going campaigns. If you don’t have the time but would like to support the cause, then please consider becoming a CBT financial member or renewing  your membership for the year by signing up here.

Remember the CBT is purely voluntary so any money we raise goes on the direct costs of campaigns.

2014 Election Transport Debate: 27th August
We are inviting any political party with a policy on transport for Auckland in this year’s general election to a debate on the 27th August. This will be held at the refurbished Ellen Melville Hall at Freyberg Square, from 7:30pm.  Save the date! We will have more details closer to the time.

What’s Happening?
We’ve been busy making representations to the Board of Inquiry into the Puhoi Warkworth Toll Road. Not many realise that the toll road will only be 700m shorter than the existing road, with a travel time saving of only three minutes for those travelling further north. For those travelling to Warkworth or the Matakana beaches, travel time savings are likely to be about zero minutes, because of the backtracking required from the northern tie-in of the project, which is almost 2km north of the Hill St intersection. In short, the project does not stack up environmentally or economically.

CBT engaged barrister Rob Enright to write a closing submission from a legal point of view.  We filed our closing submissions on Wednesday of last week.  The Hearing was supposed to conclude last Friday, however it looks like the NZTA have been given leave to make their closing submission on Thursday of next week.  You can read closing submissions on the EPA website.

Jon Reeves is fronting the campaign to extend rail to Waikato, starting at Tuakau and heading south.

Graeme Easte is trying to make progress from within Council on the issue of rail crossings.  As rail service frequencies increase, it will be necessary to rationalise the number of crossings we have on the rail network, as well as make crossings safer for pedestrians and general traffic.

This Wednesday we will be requesting the Auckland Council’s Infrastructure Committee to progress rail to Auckland airport. The new Auckland Council has been completely ineffective at protecting a route for a rail corridor.  With the Government announcing its intention to speed up construction of a widened motorway, there seems little chance of a rail service ever becoming a reality for Mangere, unless a designation is put in place soon.

The remainder of the year is shaping up to be a busy one. I look forward to meeting as many members as possible on 19th June.

No Economic Rationale For $760m Warkworth Toll Road

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The following letter from the Campaign for Better Transport appeared in the NZ Herald today:

Like many, I suspect, correspondent Nick Cottle believes that economic benefits will flow from the NZ Transport Agency’s proposed toll road from Puhoi to the north of Warkworth.

In reality, NZTA have not provided any economic evidence in support of the toll road to the Board of Inquiry which is considering the project.

Projected travel time savings to Warkworth, Omaha and other Eastern Beaches are forecast to be only one or two minutes faster on completion of the toll road, outside of holiday periods. This is because the fastest route to these destinations will be the existing State Highway 1, rather than the toll road itself which has a northern junction almost two kilometres to the north of Warkworth.

Trips between Puhoi and north of Warkworth will only achieve travel time savings four minutes faster than currently, for those willing to pay the as yet unspecified toll. During holiday periods a bottleneck is likely to occur at the Northern junction of the project where three lanes merge into one.

With these sorts of miniscule travel time savings, it is little wonder that the NZTA have not been able to produce an economic business case for the $760m project.

I’ve posted more detail on this over at TransportBlog.

Media Release: Puhoi Warkworth Toll Road “Fundamentally Flawed”

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NZTA report cites delays at Warkworth to increase significantly after toll road completes

The Campaign for Better Transport today labelled the proposed Warkworth toll road as “fundamentally flawed”.

The organisation today took its concerns to the Board of Inquiry set up to look at the environmental impacts of the $750m extension of the existing Northern Gateway Toll Road from Puhoi to north of Warkworth.

Spokesperson Cameron Pitches says that without improvements to the notorious Hill Street intersection, or the inclusion of a new link road to Matakana, the $750m project will not meet one of its key objectives of reducing congestion at Warkworth.

In a report to the Board, project backers the NZ Transport Agency concede that unless changes are made, “delays at the Hill Street intersection were forecast to increase significantly” as a result of construction of the new toll road.

The report goes on to say that changing the layout “seems entirely reasonable, as the traffic patterns will change significantly in this area.”

Last month NZTA announced they intend to hold off on any potential upgrades of the intersection until at least 2021, after the toll road is complete.

The same report cites travel time savings of only one or two minutes for trips to Warkworth and the Matakana region at most times of the day after the toll road is complete.

“This is because the fastest route will still be the existing State Highway one,” said Mr Pitches.

“The travel time savings for this project are microscopic, outside of the relatively infrequent holiday periods.

Mr Pitches says because the toll road won’t achieve the objective of reducing congestion at Warkworth, the Board needs to consider declining the application.

“It is pretty clear the toll road solution won’t achieve NZTA’s objectives,” said Mr Pitches. “It is fundamentally flawed in a number of areas.”

 

Presentation to Puhoi – Warkworth Board of Inquiry

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Today the Campaign for Better Transport presents their submission to the Board of Inquiry. The full presentation is here.

Our  areas of contention are:

  • Whether projected traffic volumes for the Project route and existing SH1 are realistic
  • Whether a supporting economic analysis consistent with the NZTA’s Economic Evaluation Manual should be supplied
  • Whether alternatives have been adequately considered
  • Whether unsafe sections of the existing SH1 require mitigation

 

Northland Rail Must Stay Open

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The Campaign for Better Transport is calling for the Northland rail network to remain open in the long term, in the wake of Kiwirail’s decision to suspend all freight services north of Auckland.

Kiwirail’s announcement means that up to 200 truck movements a day of milk powder and logs will be added to the roading network north of Auckland.

“We need to bear in mind the line carries both dairy and forestry products and most road users are well aware of the dangers logging trucks pose. By adding an additional 200 or more trucks daily on Northland’s roads there is a higher risk of accidents causing death or severe injury to innocent road users,” campaign spokesperson Jon Reeves said.

The Campaign for Better Transport is concerned that the suspension of services could become permanent. However, Mr Reeves said that now would be the perfect opportunity to carry out needed maintenance of the line, in time for the resumption of freight services.

“We need to keep the Northland network open for the benefit of freight and road users. If central Government was not spending so much on the $800m Puhoi to Warkworth toll road, there would be money to do this,” said Mr Reeves.

The Campaign for Better Transport proposed “Operation Lifesaver” in 2010 as a more cost effective option to address safety issues between Puhoi and Wellsford.

 

More Bus Lanes For Fanshawe Street

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Campaign for Better Transport spokesperson Cameron Pitches today welcomed the announcement of additional bus lanes for Fanshawe Street.

“This will come as a relief to North Shore bus commuters, who regularly find themselves stuck in general traffic during the evening rush hour,” said Mr Pitches.

Last month Luke Christensen posted a plan for a westbound bus lane on Fanshawe Street on the popular blog transportblog.co.nz.

His plan to create a continuous bus lane from Britomart to the Harbour Bridge on-ramp was endorsed by the Campaign for Better Transport, and caught the eye of Auckland Transport Chair Dr Lester Levy.

Dr Levy directed officials to examine the plan and today announced that they had “reviewed their programme and concluded that there would be value in doing the Fanshawe Street westbound bus lane improvements as soon as practicable. Once the planning regulatory processes have been resolved it is possible that we could have a solution in place within three months.”

Mr Pitches said the proposal was a good example of the “low hanging fruit” that exists for public transport investment in Auckland.

“It is great that Dr Levy is listening to regular commuters and has fast-tracked the idea.  These additional lanes can be created for a relatively low cost, yet bring significant benefits for North Shore commuters. “


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