New Auckland motorway causes congestion

The Herald has carried another story today about how building a motorway has made congestion worse in Auckland, not better. Suprised?

The New Zealand Transport Agency has admitted that they seriously under-estimated how much traffic their upgrades of State Highway 16 (SH16) to form the Western Ring Route would create.

Motorists are now experiencing delays of up to 40 minutes where the new part of SH16 joins State Highway 1 in South Auckland. NZTA’s solution? They want to widen SH1 between Manukau and Papakura to accomodate the extra traffic. They also want to widen SH1 up on the North Shore near Greenhithe at a cost of $160 million to take extra traffic coming off SH16.

Because, obviously, since widening motorways hasn’t worked before, it’s bound to fix congestion this time!

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Transport Agency’s application to spend roughly $800 million to widen State Highway 16 between Te Atatu and St Lukes from 6 lanes to 9 lanes grinds on yet the Auckland Council’s plans to build the CBD rail loop are stymied by a $30 million/year shortfall in funds

I wonder when the government will learn that building motorways to solve congestion is like trying to fix obesity through loosening your belt? To fix congestion we need to take drivers off the road by giving them attractive, alternatives like safe walking and cycling and affordable, convenient buses and trains.

In the meantime, what is the most useful thing you think the government could do with that $800 million to help put New Zealand on the right path to a clean, green, prosperous and smart economy?

47 Comments Posted

  1. John-ston, don’t listen to Phil, he’s a vegetarian. He doesn’t always appreciate my finer qualities. If I can find my kids, I’ll let you know.

    And Phil – I don’t have shortcomings in the public transport department – As a commuter using trains and buses almost daily, I sit the talk.

  2. um..! i said… was a laboured attempt at a joke by a rightwinger…

    ..there is no ‘story’ to ‘believe’… cd u think there was…?

    ..either way…’doorknob’……?


  3. looking for evidence to use as a weapon

    I am not looking for evidence to use as a weapon – I just don’t believe the story.

  4. ah…!..john-ston…brilliant…!…?

    mind his defence…he was responding to one of those laboured righjtwing attempts at humour..

    (some of them are quite sensitive about their sense of humour byepass…

    ..and try to over-compensate… ‘cracking jokes’…which are painfully unfunny..

    ..and only confirm their affliction/shortcomings…

    ..and of course..john-ston weighing in..

    …looking for evidence to use as a weapon…

    ..only confirms he ain’t the warmest pie in the pie-warmer…

    ..and also has that s.o.h byepass going on…

    ..dumb as a fucken doorknob…eh..?


  5. Done the trip surveys to find out how many people on the road are taking trips they otherwise wouldn’t have taken or changed modes?

    No, didn’t think so. Completely specious. For only if you had evidence that demand grew would your assertion have any merit.

    It’s simple traffic physics, a merge always has less capacity than the roads approaching it, so an additional lane is necessary for an extended length so that weaving actions can be completed and traffic flows freely.

    However, you can’t make the right political capital out of poor planning and forecasting by NZTA, preferring to use this to justify a world view that cars and roads are evil and bad, but other modes (especially trains) are just fantastic – regardless that those who use them aren’t willing to pay for them

  6. There are a growing number of abandoned young children because when the family set out on a 40km bike ride to visit the in-laws, the 4 and 5 year olds just can’t keep up, and are left to perish on the roadsides. It’s particularly bad during stormy weather.

  7. Oddly enough, building more motorways won’t get you to work faster… We know this because we have been doing it for 50 years and it hasn’t worked.

    Not building motorways has done little better. Adelaide has turned into a basketcase; the population of Phoenix revolted against an extensive freeway system in the mid 1970s to only see congestion increase to the point that they voted in favour of a sales tax to expand the freeway system in the 1980s; neither has it worked in London where there are only three short pieces of motorway heading inside the M25 (the M1, M4 and M11).

  8. Oddly enough, building more motorways won’t get you to work faster… We know this because we have been doing it for 50 years and it hasn’t worked.

    But Lucy, you don’t understand – it might work next time!

  9. BJ,

    You get no argument from me regarding the use of rail for long haul freight being more efficient.

    My argument has always been and remains that

    1. KiwiRail is a profit driven SOE and as such will price freight at $1 per tonne less then any road freighter. There will not be any cheaper or more efficient rail freight options without either making KiwiRail non profit driven or opening up the rail lines to ALL operators. Currently you will never know if the rail options is the better one over road in NZL.

    2. Road freight will always win the door to door delivery aspect and the fact that goods are not double (in fact triple) handled during the transit. Customers will pay extra for this. (try shifting 20 metre lenghts of extruded alloy from New Plymouth to Auckland by rail without damage).

    3. The danger exists in the current KiwiRail model to revert back to the NZRailways days where the organisation was nothing more then a state protected monopoly. You may not have been in NZL when there was a truck delivery limit of 150 kilometres to “protect” a bloated and expensive government department open to pork belly politicks.

    If the government is serious about passenger travel it should look at the VIA RAil model in Canada.

    What is quite clear from VIA Rails history (mirorred by Amtrack in the USA and Southern Rail Lines in Australai) is that freight rail operators are very bad at running passenger services.

    For rail to have a sustainable future in NZL differing models of ownership and operators should be persued, and formost in that is the seperation of freight and passenger services.

    Then open up the rail network to rail competition by allowing other freight or passenger operators to provide the services that the customers want.

  10. Thing is Gerrit, the ability to run passenger services at a reasonable rate for the passengers is not something that purely private can manage either. The provision of public transport is almost everywhere I have see it succeed, something that the state subsidizes. There being a variety of uncounted advantages to the provision of the services, this makes sense to me.

    The reason it is underfunded in capitalist countries is that the wealthy don’t take the train. The advantages in terms of accidents, drunk-driving, people with disabilities, too old and too young to drive… they all don’t show up well in the road vs rail debates. The roadies set the terms of the debate and all too often, nobody calls them on it.

    Road has a place in short haul distribution. Rail is the king of long-haul, where it exists. The varying conditions of tracks and rolling-stock are conditions applying to the “exists” word.


  11. Still tooting your own horn eh Gerrit!

    Privatization will increase a monopoly situation increasing cost for the commuters thus making it less attractive. Privatization has never reduced costs. Keeping people in cars and trucks is not the solution. Building more roads is not a solution. Spending billions on maintaining roads is not a solution. Having the taxpayer maintain the rail lines while private business has there own trains and creams all the profits off the top is not the solution. You’re not putting up many solutions.

    Ensuring that profits don’t go overseas and are reinvested in New Zealand is a solution. Making rail more attractive by reducing subsidies on trucking is a solution. Getting more people to use trains thus spreading the cost and making it cheaper is a solution. Having less damage to our road infrastructure is a solution. Having less accidents on our roads is a solution. Lots of solutions there for many problems in New Zealand.

    I think the fleas on the dog could have done a better job at budgeting than the National Govt.

  12. Yes indeed Gerrit – Public Transport in the US and Australia is otherworldly inexpensive….I well remember travelling all over Manhattan for $1.
    All over Melbourne for $5 per day – owning a car just doesn’t stack up and until we can incentivise a low-cost alternative, I’m afraid Public Transport will not be as popular as it should be here.
    Having been trained o/s to design such a network and make it work leaves me looking at nz’s (non) arrangement as purely thoughtless.

  13. Yes Gerrit, the tracks and the rights to use them… all rather difficult to have private. The carriers/owners of freight services that run on that rail might compete… but there seems to me to be little scope for this to work (for long) fully privatized. The tendency to grow to become monopoly seems to be strong.


  14. Mark,

    Am a big fan of rail to PROVIDED it is not a state monopoly.

    Competition (especially in the USA and Canada) means that costs are kept down.

    Hate to see KiwiRail end up again like the old NZRailways (joined them as a engineering cadet from school moons ago).

    We need private operators running trainsets on the state owned steel rail network much like Virgin do in England,

    or closer to home Great Southern Rail

    That is the way forward.

  15. HI Gerrit; I’m a big fan of rail – have the expensive track work fall into ruin is little short of a criminal waste of Public Monies – then again I got sent on a study tour of Australia and the US and was treated to the sight of clean efficient modern rail networks and low volume road use.
    Cars are just about passe because of the incredible costs both for the user and the used – and bicycle riders should cop a salutary mention right about here.
    Am an eternal optimist, but one has to mine the happy news here – we have a Govt. that got the last budget so badly wrong – well my dog could have done a better job.
    We’ll beat Europe to the Bankruptcy courts.

  16. @me. No, I think the Greens would rather you were using an excellent public transport service or safe, convenient walking/cycling infrastructure to get to your destination.

    Oddly enough, building more motorways won’t get you to work faster… We know this because we have been doing it for 50 years and it hasn’t worked.

  17. Again I say… time to ditch the ‘gas guzzler’ & look to a BETTER OPTION : trains, buses, bicycles etc..
    Visitors from O/seas, coming for the Rugby world cup will want to use these options, as they do in most ‘major cities’ around the world…
    “WAKE UP Minister” !!! Kia-ora

  18. You need to ask Paula Oliver and Mike Houlahan from the NZ Herald that Gerrit. I’m pretty sure they did the research properly. I trust their researched figures more than one trolls observation That’s for sure.

  19. So what is the yardstick and KPI’s that they used to arrive at the 66% figure?

    If we take the new Kopu bridge and associated road works for example, I would suggest that the effeciency of SH2 will is improved 1000% in that area.

    No use throwing effeciency figures about if there is no back up data available to prove the rating.

  20. Unfortunately the Natz can’t even build the cycle lanes they promised. How can we expect them to fix the roads and rail properly? That’s like asking someone who can’t tie their own shoelaces to read The Meaning of Relativity by Albert Einstein.

  21. Gerrit!

    I would hardly say Paula Oliver and Mike Houlahan from the NZ Herald are students. A pretty sad attempt at an insult there, you really can do better. If you had read that article properly, you would have seen that 66% of the roads are reinstated back to an acceptable level after roadworks. If you’re trying to say that 66% of rail lines have been reinstated back to an acceptable level after privatization, then I think you’re being overly optimistic. Probably why the Natz aren’t moving to privatize it again. It’s not a cash cow like ACC, ripe for the plucking so to speak.

    spending to improve this rating must be considered well spent.

    You’re missing the point. Spending on roads is not value for money. It ends up costing the taxpayer even more money. Value for money is achieved with rail because it can return greater revenue from being owned by the crown and commercially viable as a transporter (on an even playing field). It also removes much of the cost of repairing roads because of damage from heavy trucking. A not so small amount in the equation.

    Throwing good money after bad is not a solution. Spending money on something that saves money in the long run is.

  22. jarbery,

    What are your guidelines and KPI for measuring roading/rail effeciency?

    Ability to utilise the network without undue delay must be one surely.

    If the road network is only running at 66% effeciency, as some students claim, then surely any spending to improve this rating must be considered well spent.

    I would rate the southern train line as about 66% effecient judging by comments from regular commutors.

    Train service we can judge a lot easier as we have a time schedule to measure against, bit harder with roads.

  23. Dreamer. I save half an hour each day. That’s half an hour I get to spend with my family or in the garden but the greens would rather I was out there stuck on the hot road belching out exhaust.

  24. Jarbs, the dishwasher analogy is completely different to road congestion. The fact that people might have to wash their dishes by hand does not have a huge annual cost – the fact that business has to gear itself around a morning and afternoon peak (which I might add is already pushing out to mid-morning and starting in the early afternoon in the roading network) has a huge cost – it was over a $1 billion the last time someone did a calculation.

    Of course, we could use the same analogy for public transport projects – if public transport projects don’t fix congestion, then there is very limited value in having them.

    Of course suggesting that all these people in South Auckland could use the train to get around is no good when you consider that thanks to Western Line bias in Auckland, all the Southern Line trains are pretty well packed in the morning once they have cleared their way through South Auckland – you don’t find a six-car train around these parts.

  25. Surely if travel time savings benefits are so important so that everyone has a little bit more spare time at the beginning and end of their work day we should buy every household a dish-washer. That would generate plenty of additional free time, and probably at a fraction of the cost of what’s being spent on motorways in the Auckland region at the moment and over the next few years.

  26. Thank goodness we have a government that is doing something.

    Oh really!

    The Anaura Bay road remains closed after a major slip bought down at least 20,000 cubic metres of soil last week.

    Mt Tiger Road northeast of Whangarei City is closed to through traffic and drivers are asked not to remove barriers and drive through because the road could fall away beneath them.

    The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) advises that State Highway 35 will remain closed at Maraenui Hill, approximately 32km east of Opotiki, until further notice.

    “Next year… if the world economy is still in turmoil and prices spike again, then we have got significant problems”.

    Jo Kane, deputy chairwoman of Environment Canterbury, would not reveal the scale of the increase but signaled there will be rises across the board.

    The initial programme was based on 2007 dollars and councils have not yet decided how the $145m shortfall already identified would be met although a fuel tax or road tolls have been suggested.

    Only 66 per cent of the works reinstated the road to a condition that was considered acceptable.

    An ‘‘urgent need” to get the work under way meant the concept stage was set aside to reduce the design time. This resulted in the extra cost.

    No roading, rail, sea or air network can be called effective unless you place a target on the network that says 100% effective when it is completed.

    Is 66% effective enough for you Gerrit? Nothing’s changed since then. If anything it’s gotten worse. A few new highways in Auckland don’t mean squat. Tp better roads or faster commuting. Our roads are falling apart. What work is being done is costing too much and is not very good. The cost effective choice is rail, for commuting and transportation. How much have the Natz spent on rail development?

  27. Mark,

    Economically and socially, yes I know.

    Thank goodness we have a government that is doing something. Roading is improving, rail is coming along (though I dont like the state monopoly situation for rail).

    To judge if SH1 is effective you need to start with a goal that measures effectiveness.

    Do you have one in mind?

    No roading, rail, sea or air network can be called effective unless you place a target on the network that says 100% effective when it is completed.

    So maybe we need to place a few targets?

    If we look at SH1 from Onewa Road through to Ellerlie we see a speed restriction of 70 k all the way. Lets measure that section of SH1 effectiveness when we are back at 100k and the road alterations have been completed.

    Same with SH20 when it finally is completed to Waterview. Lets measure effectiveness when the projects are finished.

  28. Gerrit; the whole country is operating about as effectively as SH1 – the sooner you see it; the sooner you’ll

  29. The problem that Gareth was refering to is gone yes.

    Yesterday I spent an hour going to work where my tech is, and then an hour coming back.

    Try catching a bus, better for the pocket and the environment.

    Or better still a train, but I guess the walk up the hill might be too much for you.

  30. Well you certainly do seem to have all the answers there Garret!

    No, it means that Gareth is using a once only event (like you and I have illustrated) to highlight a problem that simply no longer exist.

    Congestion in Auckland is no longer a problem, awesome! Yeah! What are you talking about Gareth? There’s no delay if you don’t count roadworks and other delays. They’re going to fix all the delays so I can be there quicker than a crashing stock market. I can now watch the adds before Shortland street starts cos I’m saving 5 minutes on the trip that used to take me two hours. It now only takes me 1 hour 55 minutes, and it only cost a trillion dollars to build. Let’s work that out; a cost of $200,000,000,000 per minute saved, talk about a bargain. Hey big spender…

    I’m glad taxes are going up and up to pay for it; I mean who needs money, we need more roads, bigger cars and trucks to use them. We don’t need houses, parks or forests. Tar-seal the lot so I can drive everywhere. I don’t even want to get out of my car to go fishing, concrete those bloody beaches will ya! I’m sick of seeing Gerrit getting stuck in the sand.

    I remember back in the day when I used to sit in traffic on Aucklands SH1 for an hour every morning going to tech, and then another hour creeping back afterward. Those were the days eh! Yesterday I spent an hour going to work where my tech is, and then an hour coming back. Cost me twice as much in petrol though. Must have been a figment of my imagination cos now there’s no congestion at all… according to the omnipotent totalitarianism man. Stop itching that spandex Gerrit, it’s inappropriate in a public forum!

    The road planners are geniuses. Give them more money, give them your Babies money and give them their Babies money as well. Who needs a beneficiary system? Kick them all off into the gutter because I want a highway from my living room to the lounge god dammit! That would be F-ing Fantastic!

    Chalk another one up to Super Captain Capitalism man… Always on the right side.

  31. “I had to wait 59 minutes yesterday for a train (Middlemore to Manurewa)… Never seem to hear those stories.”

    Really? In Wellington broken-down train stories are a media staple. It’s the ‘blocked motorway’ ‘closed SH1’ and ‘drivers park cars and take the train after highway delays’ stories we never hear.

    In my own experience both the rail and road systems are highly unreliable.

  32. Lucy,

    Im not saying we should or should not be providing motorways. Simply asking if Gareth was aware of the change in demographics.

    Auckland CBD wont be growing but areas like Warkworth, Wellsford, Pukekophe, Tuakau, Huntly will be growing and an upgraded roading network is a reasonably precurses to growth in those areas.

    Except for Warkworth, all those growth areas mentioned are on an existing rail network and we should be planning to not just provided roading infastructure but also public transport system to these growth areas.

    WE simply can’t fit another 400,000 cars into Auckland to accomodate 600,000 extra people driving to work.

    Of course we can but a great deal of planning is required to one, place the jobs on a roading and rail serviced location, and two, house the people on a roading and rail serviced area.

    Preferably allow industry and residential to co exist.

  33. Also, I’m confused. If the problem is solved then why would NZTA think it is necessary to widen SH1? Either you think the widening is a waste of money cos it won’t fix congestion or you think it’s a waste of money because it’s not necessary – you can’t haev it both ways.

  34. @ Gerrit. So you really think we can accomodate Auckland’s growth in population by building and widening more and more motorways? We are running out of space int he urban area to build motorways without having to either go underground or level massive numbers of houses which will mean the motorways in question are incredibly expensive (e.g., Waterview).

    We have to start moving people around in more efficient ways than private vehicles – a car is probably the most inefficient way in terms of space to shift somebody from place to place. WE simply can’t fit another 400,000 cars into Auckland to accomodate 600,000 extra people driving to work.

  35. I once had to wait two hours while they removed a broken down truck from SH1.

    No, it means that Gareth is using a once only event (like you and I have illustrated) to highlight a problem that simply no longer exist.

    Scaremongering and attention seeking with a posting that is totally irrelavant.

    If Gareth was more “on the ball” he would be now about of this change in demographics

    Over a million people – one third of New Zealand’s population – live in the Auckland region. It is the fastest growing region in the country with the population forecast to reach 1.6 million in the next 20 years. There are now over 350,000 dwellings in the region and it is estimated that an extra 268,000 homes will be needed by 2025 to house our growing population.

    The Auckland region is also home to one third of the nation’s workforce and 38% of all business enterprises. It provides 35% of New Zealand’s jobs.

    And he would welcome the motorway extentions to provide for an orderly growth patern. Just like we welcome the public transport infastructure being built now to cope with the future.

    What Gareth should be concerned about is that Aucklands growth will be at the expense of the other regions south of Lake Taupo.

  36. As an aside, I once had to wait two hours while they removed a broken down truck from SH1. Does that make trains even more efficient?

  37. Gareth,

    You left this out

    But he said that since the traffic lights were installed, there had been no traffic build-ups on the Southern beyond Te Irirangi Drive.

    In other word there is no longer a problem.

    As an aside, I had to wait 59 minutes yesterday for a train (Middlemore to Manurewa). Seems like a broken down train in Otahuhu was a problem and the overcrowding (congestion) due to the delay was horrendous.

    Never seem to hear those stories.

  38. Gareth,

    Motorists are now experiencing delays of up to 40 minutes where the new part of SH16 joins State Highway 1 in South Auckland.

    Got a link to an actual timed delay? Come through there twice a day and never ever had a 40 minute delay, about 10 minutes was the worst.

    In other words, you are miss informed and way way behind the 8 ball. The issue has been discussed in the local paper for about 3 months.

    Reason for the inital congestion was the unfinished nature of the junction, no overhead signage, no lane control lights, incomplete road markings, 80k speed limit, etc.

    Now that section is finished there are no delays, flows extremely smoothly.

    Sound deadening fencing being placed along Takanini (after all those state houses surely want to be insulated from noise, no?) is currently slowing down traffic in the lead up to the Takanini interchange.

    Was a cummulative event with unfinished roads and fencing that caused the initial blockages but now it is brilliant. Works extremely well.

    Further congestion is around the Papatoetoe area where rail bridge (much improvement to the rail network ready for overhead electrification) widening at Shirley Road and Bridge Street are casuing delays especially seeing the airport turmnoff on SH20 (not SH16) is not yet completed.

    We in Manurewa are extremely greatfull that much of the Wiri warehouse and oil terminal truck traffic does not come along Roscommon and Mahia Road anymore. Eased congestion tremendously in Manurewa/Takanini.

    Cheers Transit NZ, greatly appreciated.

  39. Well; it’ll only be a problem if someone finds oil off Auckland (and eventually ‘they’ will)
    The nz Govt. either cant or won’t acknowledge their helplessness at the undersea activities of o’seas corporations.
    Tsunami? Eat my shorts…

  40. In light of the cyclical nature of serious earthquakes in this country, both on the Richter and modified Mercali scale, the government should be spending that $800m on an urgent highway seismic upgrade program. Or we could just continue to believe that the last 50 years without major quakes is the only history we need to be aware of.

    Gareth may be able to obtain a copy of EQC research report #2205.

  41. Our transport policies are like those of a drug addict.

    Just one more widening project will fix it, then one more, then one more.

    Where does it end?

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