Northern Busway & Esmonde Interchange Construction
Transit Regional Office
22 November 2004
Northern Busway and Esmonde Interchange construction to start
After 15 years on the drawing board, a major public transport initiative - the 8.5km Northern Busway from Constellation Drive to the Auckland Harbour Bridge - is underway.
Transit New Zealand today let a contract to Fletcher Construction for the construction of the first 2.9km of the Busway - from Northcote Road to just north of Onewa Interchange. Work will begin in January with completion of the Esmonde Road Interchange scheduled some two years later in 2007. The Busway will open when the full length is constructed - estimated to be early 2008.
A major feature of this initial $82 million contract will be the construction of the Esmonde Road interchange upgrade. It will also include the Akoranga bus station - construction works (excluding the station buildings at this stage), which will provide an important public transport access point to the growing North Shore campus of the Auckland University of Technology.
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Announcing the contract, Transit chief executive, Rick van Barneveld, said it was an important milestone towards providing the Auckland region with superior public transport infrastructure.
"When fully completed, the Northern Busway and associated bus priority measures will provide a public transport spine that will run from the North Shore to Auckland City, including Britomart," he said.
Mr van Barneveld said letting this main construction contract underlined the determination and cooperation of a number of organisations to provide sustainable transport solutions to the region. These included the Auckland Regional Council, North Shore City, Auckland City, Transfund New Zealand and Transit.
He said the busway would provide the foundation for North Shore's 'rubber-tyred rail' - a rapid transit system, with frequent and reliable bus services running up and down the spine, together with express and feeder buses from throughout North Shore City connecting at busway stations.
North Shore City Council will fund the five busway stations with a grant from Infrastructure Auckland (now administered by the ARC). The stations, at Albany, Constellation Drive, Sunnynook, Westlake and Akoranga, will provide safe, attractive interchange and connection points for bus users. The two northerly stations at Albany and Constellation Drive will have extensive 'park and ride' facilities.
"This will make it possible for more and more people to dispense with their cars and travel easily on buses throughout the North Shore and across the Harbour Bridge to the Auckland CBD and beyond."
Mr van Barneveld said it was intended to let the next stage of the overall construction project by April 2005. This would be for the 4.5km northern section of the busway - from Constellation Drive to Northcote Road and would include the construction of the Sunnynook and Westlake bus stations.
"We are able to do this because the innovative contracting process agreed by Transfund New Zealand for the busway project enables us to facilitate progress through a negotiated contract process with Fletcher Construction which reduces the cost of tendering both to Transit and the construction industry," he said.
Also to be let soon are separate North Shore City Council contracts for the construction of park and ride busway stations at Albany and Constellation, which will be completed ahead of the busway itself.
In total, Transfund New Zealand will be funding $216 million of the Busway and Esmonde Interchange construction costs. The estimated project construction costs for the Busway, Busway stations and Transpower works is $290million.
Northern Busway project director, Clive Fuhr, said the upgrading of the Esmonde Road interchange was both an integral component of the busway, and an important project in its own right. The upgraded interchange would provide a vital east-west road connection for vehicles and pedestrians, access to the motorway for northbound traffic and a southbound motorway off-ramp. The upgraded interchange would also incorporate a tunnel on the eastern side of the motorway to allow the busway to run through the interchange free from any traffic congestion on the motorway.
Mr Fuhr said the construction of the Busway would also provide an opportunity for Transpower to lay an underground power line for a secondary power supply to the North Shore area. A large duct constructed to house a 220kv Transpower power supply would run from the Mercury tunnel under Auckland city, under Fanshawe Street, across the Harbour Bridge and up the Northern Busway to the Albany sub station. This, he said, would significantly improve the security of the future power supply needs of the North Shore.
"As part of the first stage of Busway construction, North Shore City Council has included its works to widen Esmonde Road from the interchange to the Assembly of God Church. This is part of the council's project to upgrade the full length of Esmonde Road," he said.
"The council will also upgrade the intersection of Barry's Point Road with Esmonde Road, extend Fred Thomas Drive to Esmonde Road and build a new link road from Fred Thomas Drive to the Akoranga bus station."
Mr Fuhr said that Fletcher Construction would be starting the busway construction, Esmonde interchange upgrade and all of the associated North Shore City and Transpower works in January, following completion of stage 1 of the Central Motorway (Spaghetti) Junction upgrading project.