Over the past week, our team has been meeting with local landowners to discuss the effects of zoning, traffic growth, and roading projects on them and the wider area. With the $2m announced to design the Hill Street intersection, we are looking at ways to progress the construction phase sooner.
Talking about progress, this weeks’ belated issue is dedicated to what is being done and who can learn from it.
Episode 4 of the TV series “Gutsful”, featuring our campaign, airs on Thursday 8 June at 8:30pm on TV2. We will be holding a screening party at The Bridgehouse. Gutsful is streamed on demand here: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/gutsful.
We’ve been following the progress of the Kowhai Park upgrade. To view the plans, find them here: http://bit.ly/2k19utE.
From what we’ve seen, there’s a lot that Auckland Transport could learn. The resource consent contained ecological and arbourist assessments, which will be useful for any works to reconfigure the intersection.
As expected, the works are being completed in stages, avoiding disruption to the Hill Street intersection. The works have started at the northern end of the site, allowing for easier access to the site from the intersection.
Clearing the site and sediment control is the priority at this stage. We were surprised by how large the site is. The fenced area allows for pedestrians to walk along the top terrace above the stream. Still, look at the extent of the flat area leading to the stream escarpment.
As you can see, the island in the middle of the carpark is being formed. We calculated that the amount of material being moved from the site and seal the carpark would be similar to our suggested roundabout design for the Hill Street intersection.
A lot of seal and rubble from the demolished toilet block has been trucked away from the site. We haven’t heard of any complaints about trucks causing gridlock at the lights. The Wharehine team are setting a good example of the type of traffic management required to upgrade the Hill Street intersection. NZTA should take notice.
Here is the site hazard board. E/I/M stands for ‘Eliminate/ Isolate/ Minimise’.
If anything came out of this process, it is that there is little flexibility from NZTA to align the Matakana Link with the motorway junction. Considering that no works have commenced near the proposed location of the motorway roundabout – and no work on the Matakana Link – we wondered why there is such inflexibility.
This isn’t the first time that there has been a lack of flexibility on the motorway design. Remember the Puhoi, Woodcocks Road, and Valerie Close/Perry Road motorway connection fracas? Fortunately, the NZTA are now revisiting a southern Warkworth motorway connection in response to the Unitary Plan’s future urban zoning.
In such a dynamic environment of zoning changes and traffic growth, why is such a ‘future focussed’ motorway so unwilling to adapt to traffic growth greater than anticipated?
Part of the problem could be the complexity of arrangements to fund, build, and manage the motorway.
The Public Private Partnership model has a troublesome history throughout the world, where the incentives can often lead to inefficiencies and unintended consequences.
In a nutshell, a Public Private Partnership is a hire purchase agreement where the government hires a private company to fund, build, and maintain infrastructure. Unfortunately, this is a diagram of what was agreed to:
This convoluted model generates headaches if any changes are necessary. Operational risks at all levels would need to be recalculated. Penalty charges may apply.
Remember, private companies are in it for profit, based on risk. Investors expect a rate of return higher than government bonds. The government is paying more to investors than if they simply built it themselves.
The incentive for NX2 is build a road as cheaply as possible with the least traffic using it when completed.
With the cost blowouts at the Albany to Puhoi Tollway (ALPURT) section of the Northern Motorway (in 1995 estimated to cost $165m but ended up costing $355m in 2009) and the projected blowout on the Warkworth to Te Hana stage (in 2009 estimated to cost $494m but revised to $1.4b-$1.9b in 2017), is a Public Private Partnership model the most practical option? How much extra profit margin has been built into the contract to alleviate such risk that wouldn’t exist under conventional project arrangements? Are the projected costs over-inflated?
Either way, ordinary New Zealanders are burdened with the risk and cost. At one end, our taxes and road user charges are hiring the road. On the other, ACC are the major funder (and risk taker) for the project.
We are wondering whether, in such an arrangement, can private companies lose money? Who will cover cost blowouts? Who will complete the road if a partner goes bust? Are ordinary New Zealanders subsidising banks and shareholders?
We fail to see how there is any advantage to the government - or those wanting to use the motorway.
Thank you for subscribing and thank you to donors and volunteers who have got our campaign into full swing. Please contact us if you would like to donate, volunteer, or have any suggestions.
To make a donation, our bank account details are:
Account Name: “FixHillStreetNow Action Group” Bank Account Number: 12-3095-0042062-00.