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Grafton Gully Goes Ahead & Gosche Speech

7 December 2001 Media Statement

Grafton Gully Goes Ahead


Construction on Auckland’s Grafton Gully project is expected to be underway next month, Transport Minister Mark Gosche announced today.

Mr Gosche was with Auckland Mayor John Banks at Grafton Gully, turning the first sod on the $2 million early works project to prepare the site for construction.

“This project will substantially improve the strategic link between Auckland’s lower Central Business District, the port area and the motorway so is a crucial part of getting the Auckland roading network right.”

“The link to the port is particularly significant for Auckland’s businesses as the Port of Auckland is crucial to Auckland’s commercial activity.”

“The final touches are being put to the construction contract now and Transit is confident that the main construction programme will be underway in January.”

The $68 million project will include extending State Highway 16A north to pass under Grafton Road and into Stanley Street, removing the current dogleg for people exiting the motorway.

The dogleg intersection from Stanley Street into The Strand will also be removed by extending Stanley Street to pass beneath the railway line and link back into the Strand.

A new link will run from Wellesley Street across the Gully over the port linkages to Grafton Road. Stanley Street will be widened and traffic lights installed at Alten Road. There will also be a free left turn provided from Stanley Street into Beach Road and an extra right turn from Beach Road into Stanley Street.

“This project represents a significant part of the solution to Auckland’s transport problems. Along with the progress on the Puhinui interchange, the State Highway 20 extensions, Spaghetti Junction and the North Shore Busway the complete transport picture is beginning to emerge after a long hiatus in major highway developments.”

Mr Gosche also announced that Auckland consultant Grant Kirby has been appointed to the new position of Auckland’s Transport Advocate.


“Grant will be responsible for making our plans for Auckland transport happen. He will work with all parties to remove the barriers to progressing those plans. He will report directly to myself and Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard. ”

He will also keep aware of other exercises underway that directly or indirectly influence progress on Auckland transport projects.

As a consultant specialising in local government issues Mr Kirby has worked as project director of the Britomart project and was also appointed by the government as Commissioner of the Rodney District Council.

Speech Attached....

Hon Mark Gosche
7 December 2001 Speech Notes

Auckland Transport Initiatives

Kia ora koutou, talofa lava and good morning to you all. I acknowledge Auckland Mayor John Banks, etc (details to come). I offer the apologies of my colleague, the Minister Responsible for Assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland issues and the local MP, Judith Tizard who can’t be here today.

Today is an important event. It’s the start of a major roading project, and that’s always something to celebrate, but this project is also a significant part of the solution to Auckland’s transport problems.

There are some other bits of the jigsaw that I want to talk about today and I will mention one of these before I come back to Grafton Gully.

As you know, a large number of transport infrastructure projects are in preparation. Some have been difficult to progress, not least because of the number of agencies and interests involved.

This Grafton Gully project, for example, took six years to process from scheme assessment to final approval.

To ensure that priority land transport projects progress more quickly the government has decided to appoint a representative in Auckland to work with the central government, its agencies and parties within the Auckland region. This person will be known as Auckland’s Transport Advocate.

The Transport Advocate’s main task will be to make our plans for Auckland transport happen. They will work with all parties to remove barriers to progressing the government’s strategic priorities and the
regional land transport strategy.

They will also keep in touch with other exercises underway that directly or indirectly influence progress on Auckland transport projects.

I am pleased to announce today that Grant Kirby has been appointed to this new position.

Grant will be known to many of you because of his long involvement with Auckland Local Government and engineering circles. He has strong negotiation and communication skills and has the ability to inspire others to unite around the same goals. I am sure he will receive the full support of Auckland transport organisations.

Grant will report directly to both myself and the Associate Minister of Transport, who of course is also the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland issues. Judith and I are certainly looking forward to working with him.


Returning now to Grafton Gully, late last year Transit published its Auckland State Highway Strategy that set out in detail all the projects and proposals that were needed if the state highway system in Auckland was to realise its full potential.

The strategy emphasised the need for a balanced system in line with the objectives of Auckland’s Regional Transport Strategy. The solutions to Auckland’s transport woes are to be found in working alongside local authorities on their new roading proposals, as well as by increasing the capacity of existing roads, and building new stretches of state highway and motorway. And of course public transport and providing for cyclists and pedestrians must also be part of the mix.

If we were to ask any of the truck drivers passing here not one would say that the present quality of this strategically important route to the Port of Auckland, the hub of the city’s commercial activity, was up to scratch.

A bustling, commercially successful Auckland is essential to an economically strong New Zealand.

And that is why this project is so important.

Today we are marking the first step – the $2 million early works project to prepare the site for the major construction contract. Transfund New Zealand has set aside $68 million for this total project. The final touches are being put to the contract now and Transit is confident that the main construction programme will be underway next month.

This work include extending State Highway 16A north to pass under Grafton Road and into Stanley Street, removing the current dogleg for people exiting the motorway. It will also remove the dogleg intersection from Stanley Street into The Strand by extending Stanley Street to pass beneath the railway line and link back into the Strand.

A new link will run from Wellesley Street across the Gully over the port linkages to Grafton Road. Stanley Street will be widened and traffic lights installed at Alten Road. There will also be a free left turn provided from Stanley Street into Beach Road and an extra right turn from Beach Road into Stanley Street.

While all this is going on the produce must continue to get through to the port, and on to their international markets, along this route. It is a tough ask but one I am sure Transit and its contractors can answer.

This is my third sod turning in recent months. The first was at Puhinui in June when we turned the soil for an enabling works contract. This was to prepare the site for the main construction work to build the interchange at the Puhinui roundabout. The contract has just been awarded and construction will start shortly - as soon as the contractor has his erosion and sediment control plans approved by the ARC.

We can all look forward to easing the congestion on this important link to the airport. Essentially, the $13 million Puhinui interchange will reduce congestion to the airport by taking Puhinui Rd over the proposed SH20 Motorway extension and from there through to the Southern Motorway near Rainbow’s End.

This work is also significant as it marks the first step in joining the Southwestern and Southern motorways. Manukau City recently completed a designation hearing for a new motorway-to-motorway connection adjacent to the Manukau City Centre.

The two extensions to State Highway 20 are also important parts of the Western Ring Route. Consultation on the Avondale extension will begin in the New Year. I know Transit is keen to get on this with stage of community input.

The other State Highway 20 connection is the Mt Roskill extension. On this project the detailed design work is progressing, some land purchase has started and consents for earthworks and stormwater have been notified by the ARC. A hearing on these has been scheduled for March. Good progress is being made in working with the appellants in recognising their concerns about the Mt Roskill Cone and its immediate environment. An Environment Court hearing is scheduled for next June to address any remaining appeals.

Two other significant parts of the roading network on which work is continuing are the St Marys Bay area and the Central Motorway Junction - Spaghetti Junction to Aucklanders.

Excellent progress is being made on Spaghetti Junction. Transit has had a team of international roading designers working on this project all this year. The special challenge is to come up with a design that can be built while the traffic is still using the junction.

In addition to improving the operation and safety of the junction, it will improve access to and from the Auckland CBD, reduce traffic on the surrounding local road network and, importantly, add missing motorway-to-motorway connections. The options are being finalised now and will soon be presented to Auckland City and the Auckland Regional Council. After Christmas, information on this project will be made available to the wider public.

The St Mary’s Bay/Victoria Park Viaduct - Harbour Bridge to City project, which includes improving the capacity of the Victoria Park Viaduct, is also planned to head into consultation in the New Year. Transit will have a range of options to present to the various communities affected by the proposals.

This significant section of the network is aimed at making better use of the spare capacity on the harbour bridge by increasing the capacity of the accesses to the bridge, particularly for high occupancy vehicles using the North Shore Busway.

On the subject of the Busway, work is now underway on this, the first part of the much longer term Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network for the North Shore.

Transfund last month approved $10.64 million for the design of a priority bus lane on the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge. It also recently granted funding for the design stage of the $35 million upgrade of the Esmonde Road interchange.

A $20 million contribution went towards the construction of the Britomart development earlier in the year.

Public transport initiatives such as these are a high priority for this government. As part of this commitment to public transport we are working in partnership with local government to buy the Auckland rail corridors. We have agreed to buy the corridor lease and infrastructure assets for a price of $81 million and we expect to conclude an agreement shortly.

This deal will help Auckland’s plans for a rapid passenger transit system, and preserves the integrity of the rail network and the freight link to Northland.

We have also substantially increased our funding of public transport. The result has been a huge increase in public transport use by Aucklanders. Passenger numbers are up 7.6% this year. There is the equivalent of an extra 2.9 million Aucklanders using the buses, trains and ferries in the past year.

These projects, in conjunction with the Grafton Gully project, will improve accessibility to and from the CBD, as well as improving the flow of traffic through the busiest roads in New Zealand.

After an unacceptably long hiatus in major highway developments in Auckland City the complete transport picture is now beginning to emerge.

As Minister of Transport I welcome all these developments and like every other Aucklander look forward to the positive impact on Auckland traffic and Auckland life. I also wish Auckland’s first Transport Advocate well in his new position.

ENDS

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