Archive | Infrastructure

Matching infrastructure to population explosion a key Goff plank

Auckland mayor Phil Goff laid out his vision yesterday to build infrastructure at a rate that would match the region’s unprecedented population growth.

Some funding mechanisms are in place, and the council & Government have agreed bigger funding streams for some areas such as transport, but their budgets still show a $5.9 billion shortfall over the next decade.

The mayor said he would seek staff advice on options for broadening the council’s revenue base, which currently relies on rates to generate almost 50% of its funding. Other options include:

  1. the further development of special purpose vehicles funded by growth infrastructure targeted rates
  2. the application of the targeted rate on accommodation to the informal sector (eg, Airbnb)
  3. the sale of non-strategic assets, and
  4. likely proceeds from various road pricing options & practicality of implementation.

The mayor wrote his 8-page report to set the process going for the council’s 10-year budget (otherwise known as its long-term plan) for 2018-28.

The process now is for the council to run political workshops through September-November, finishing with a more concrete mayoral proposal which will go to more workshops in December, then out to public consultation in March and adoption of the plan on 27 June next year.

Mr Goff wrote in his release presenting the report:

“Our vision for Auckland is a world-class city where talent wants to live. It must be the city which can keep the best & brightest of our young people in New Zealand while competing globally with other cities around the world for skills, entrepreneurship & investment.

“My key focus is to build infrastructure at a rate that matches unprecedented population growth to maintain our quality of life and make it easier to do business in our city.

“Auckland grows by 45,000 people/year and is clearly a desirable place to live. This growth creates opportunities, but it also presents challenges in housing shortages & affordability, growing traffic congestion & pressure on our environment.

“The key to tackling these issues is our ability to lift investment in our infrastructure.

“Investment in public transport, including light rail, in active transport modes like cycling & walking, and optimising our road network is critical.

“That’s why, under our latest Auckland transport alignment project, we have set aside $27 billion for capital investment in the next decade. Currently, $5.9 billion of that is unfunded and has to be found.

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to meet the larger share of that, but Auckland will also need to contribute more.

“The 10-year budget needs to consider where we source our share of the funds.

“The interim transport levy is not user-related and does not raise sufficient funds. We can’t simply impose huge general rate increases to pay for infrastructure, so some form of road pricing will be essential.

“We need to build more houses more quickly. The mayoral housing taskforce makes recommendations which we need to move to implement.

“The unitary plan enables land development, but we need to invest in infrastructure to allow houses to be built. This will involve intensification of houses, as well as new developments under the future urban land supply strategy.

“Use of targeted rates as well as special purpose vehicles through Crown Infrastructure Partners will be essential. That also applies to protecting & enhancing our environment.

“Water quality is a top priority. We need to reduce wastewater overflowing into our streams & harbours. Building new water infrastructure will be our focus, including new wastewater interceptors & green infrastructure.

“While the council is looking for new sources of infrastructure funding, we must also get better value for the ratepayers’ dollar.

“It is time to realise the benefits of amalgamation to deliver further efficiencies & economies of scale made possible by the super-city.

“Findings from our group-wide section 17A value-for-money reviews will be critical, and I want the council to develop group-wide shared services.

“APEC [Auckland will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum leaders’ week from 8–14 November 2021] and the America’s Cup defence add impetus to our planning and provide the opportunity to create a lasting legacy for Aucklanders.

“We have the opportunity to make Auckland more prosperous, smart, innovative, inclusive & culturally rich, with a beautiful environment and choice & opportunity for all.

“With this as our vision and the investment we need in infrastructure, we will make Auckland a world-class city.”

Image above: Auckland mayor Phil Goff, on site shortly after his election as mayor last October.

Links:
Mayoral intent for the 10-year budget (long-term plan) 2018–28
10-year budget 2018-28 road map

Attribution: Mayoral release & plan document.

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Christchurch convention centre tender introduces Cimic to major NZ projects

When the Government awarded the $240 million contract to complete the design & construction of the Christchurch Convention & Exhibition Centre to CPB Contractors Pty Ltd last Thursday, few people outside the industry would have been much the wiser. CPB?

Except that, whoever this contractor was, it needed close watching, as the Minister supporting Christchurch Regeneration, Nicky Wagner, confirmed in her release: “CPB has committed to completing construction in the first quarter of 2020 and the Government will be closely monitoring its progress,” she said.

That’s not the kind of public warning you issue to someone you’ve supposedly had sufficient confidence in to award them a very large contract – unless the recent performance of New Zealand’s biggest contractor, The Fletcher Construction Co Ltd, is making you extra-jittery about every contractor. [Fletcher Building Ltd, Fletcher Construction’s parent, reports its annual result Wednesday morning.]

Ms Wagner said work would start soon on what would be “a world-class boutique facility, capable of hosting international conferences as well as community meetings, balls, galas & weddings.”

It will offer options of:

  • an auditorium for 1400 delegates (divisible into 2 700-person auditoriums)
  • a 1250-person banquet hall
  • 14 interconnected meeting rooms for up to 1400 people
  • 4400m² of pre-function spaces for up to 1400 people, and
  • a 3600m² multi-use exhibition hall for 200 exhibition stalls.

“The convention centre will be a cornerstone of the revitalised central city and help bring domestic & international visitors back to the central business district.

“The direct economic benefit of the convention centre is estimated to be more than $320 million in the first 8 years, and $57 million every year after that.

“It’s also expected to increase private sector investment, open up business networks & opportunities and create new jobs.”

The contract was let by Otakaro Ltd, a Government-owned company whose job is to deliver Crown-led anchor projects in central Christchurch and divest the balance of Crown land. The company bears the Ngai Tuahuriri name for the Avon River that runs through Christchurch.

Who is CPB?

As for the main works contractor, CPB changed its name from Leighton last year. The New Zealand company is a subsidiary of Cimic Group Ltd, which is 73% owned by Hochtief AG of Germany, which in turn is now 71.8% owned by ACS Group SA of Spain. Those stakes make the Spanish group 52.2% owner of Cimic.

All are big names in construction internationally, with current heavy focus on major infrastructure projects, especially through public-private partnerships.

Other international contractors have looked at New Zealand but uncertainty over the future order book has been a deterrent.

Attitude talks inclusion

Cimic Group chief executive Adolfo Valderas.

For the Christchurch job, Cimic Group chief executive Adolfo Valderas said: “Cimic & CPB Contractors’ market-leading & cost-effective capabilities in delivering major commercial & social infrastructure position us strongly for projects such as the Christchurch Convention & Exhibition Centre.

“Cimic is committed to delivering this project as part of the rebuilding of Christchurch. The project will deliver a vibrant & world-class piece of infrastructure supporting sustained economic & cultural benefits for the Christchurch community.”

CPB Contractors managing director Román Garrido said: “By utilising our international expertise & local project experience in Christchurch, our team consistently delivers value-for-money design & construction methodologies that ensure quality outcomes.

“We are focused on providing opportunities for local businesses, a socially inclusive procurement strategy to broaden community benefits, and enhancing local workforce capabilities to the benefit of future building & infrastructure projects in the region.”

Business model transformed

Cimic reported a strong first-half result last month and said it would lead to improved outcomes. The company lifted first-half revenue by 28% to $A6.3 billion, net profit after tax by 22% to $A323 million and operating cashflows up $A523 million. It has $A35.2 billion of work in hand.

ACS Group executive chair Marcelino Fernández Verdes.

Group executive chair Marcelino Fernández Verdes said: “The compelling numbers we reported today are a testament, not only to the transformation of our business model which we commenced in 2014, but also to the ongoing drive of our people to improve, innovate & grow.

“Through continually evolving how we deliver projects, we are achieving favourable outcomes for clients, which improves the position of our group to win further work. We have also substantially increased our net cash position, which allows us to better reward shareholders and more efficiently allocate capital.”

And group chief executive Adolfo Valderas added: “By securing new work of $8.9 billion during the period, we have brought work in hand to $35.2 billion – a level equivalent to more than 2 years’ revenue.

“We are in an ideal position to build on our strategy of providing clients with end-to-end solutions – from financing to engineering, construction, mining, operations & maintenance. Doing so will further diversify our income streams and add more recurring revenue through the expansion of our services business with the successful integration of UGL.”

New projects

Among its early scores in New Zealand is the design, construction & financing of a New Zealand schools public-private partnership – a $103 million project for CPB Contractors & Pacific Partnerships Pty Ltd. Cimic is also tendering for major Sydney rail & road projects and the deep tunnel sewerage system in Singapore.

In its half-year report, Cimic said it had won one of Australia’s biggest public infrastructure projects: “CPB Contractors is in charge of stage 2 of the Metro expansion in Sydney. Cimic’s share of the overall contract value of $NZ3 billion is 45%. The trust our customers place in us with major infrastructure projects was yet again confirmed by CPB Contractors’ recent selection as the preferred proponent to deliver a part of the Melbourne Metro tunnel, Victoria’s largest-ever public infrastructure project.”

Links:
Cimic Group
ACS Group
Hochtief
Otakaro

Attribution: Company & ministerial release, group websites.

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Billions astray, but political thinking on Auckland transport infrastructure is positive

The numbers don’t add up, but at least Auckland Council & the Government are trying to make progress on bridging the shortfall of several billion dollars in infrastructure funding to meet projections of higher population growth.

From 2 statements issued on Friday by Auckland mayor Phil Goff and Transport Minister Simon Bridges, you have these 2 sets of figures:

Mr Goff: “Council & Government have identified the need to lift transport spending from $24 billion to nearly $27 billion and bring forward a range of major projects to address growing transport congestion.”

Mr Bridges: “ATAP (the Auckland transport alignment project) agencies were asked to provide an update of how much additional funding may be required in the first decade to meet the challenges of growth. The update identifies an additional $1.9 billion of transport investment will be needed over the 10-year period.

“This is $1.1 billion less than the amount previously identified by Auckland Council. The total funding required for the decade is estimated to be $25.9 billion, of which $20 billion has already been committed to by central government ($13 billion) & Auckland Council ($7 billion).

“That leaves about $5.9 billion to be sourced from the Government, council & the private sector over the next 10-year period.”

Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges said the ATAP update report “identifies faster growth is now expected to occur in North & South Auckland, requiring some transport investment to be brought forward to support the housing development in these areas. We will also need to bring forward transport investment to accommodate additional public transport demand.”

He said key initiatives from the first-decade package that would be brought forward into the next 3 years with this extra funding included:

  • Advancing development of the “next generation” of state highway projects, including the State Highway16- State Highway 18 interchange, Southern Motorway widening between Papakura & Drury, improved eastern airport access (State Highway 20B) and the North-western Busway
  • Accelerating Auckland Transport’s programme, targeting high priority & well developed investments including the Mill Rd, Ameti (Aukland-Manukau eastern transport initiative) Eastern Busway & associated Reeves Rd flyover, the earlier purchase of new electric trains, along with earlier completion of key city centre bus lanes & interchanges
  • Completing approximately $250 million of rail network infrastructure upgrades to cater for ongoing rapid growth in rail use and increasing freight volumes, including an additional track from Westfield to Wiri and a variety of key network resilience and performance upgrades.

“Current & committed investments include $3.4 billion for the City Rail Link, $1.85 billion for the East-West Link, and up to $1 billion in upgrades to the Northern & Southern motorway corridors.

“This is a very useful update of the agreed ATAP programme. I look forward to continuing to work with the mayor of Auckland on addressing the remaining funding required for the first decade.”

One major factor in the review is that Auckland’s population is projected to rise by 100,000 more over the next decade than the ATAP projections were based on last year.

Phil Goff.

Mr Goff said: “I particularly welcome the commitment of $1.2 billion in the first decade to mass transit on the isthmus, which I believe will be light rail.

“Busways in West & East Auckland and on the Northern Motorway will relieve traffic congestion by providing effective public transport alternatives.

“Penlink is also being considered as a tolled PPP (public-private partnership) road and new arterial routes are funded to service greenfields development.

“The increased budget & projects now go to the council & Government, and are expected to be formally agreed. Bridging the funding gap of $5.9 billion is now being negotiated between council & government.

“I welcome the Minister’s statement that Government has enough headroom in its budget to make a larger contribution to funding Auckland’s transport infrastructure.

“The hundreds of extra cars being added to Auckland’s roads each week, paying more petrol taxes & road user charges, will help fund the new projects.

“Auckland has to meet its fair share of the cost and we are considering the best options for how we do that.

“Road pricing, such as congestion charging, tolls or a fuel tax, in my view better reflect costs falling where there are benefits to the users of transport infrastructure than general rates. We are also exploring other options including targeted rates & value uplift.”

Link:
ATAP update, 11 August 2017: Auckland transport alignment project – update to reflect faster growth August 2017.pdf (pdf 804.72 KB)

Earlier stories:
16 September 2016: Brown leaves mayoralty with 2 huge transport wins
22 August 2016: Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
22 June 2016: Government & council start lining up on tolls but transport report still has big failings
11 May 2016: Infrastructure council seeks rethink to improve transport & intensification
23 February 2016: Transport alignment starts off-track

Attribution: Mayoral & ministerial release.

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Access matters most

On this website, access is the most important consideration. The real estate catchcry, “Location, location, location,” relies on your ability to get there.

In Auckland, a 30-minute car journey can take 90 minutes, but estimating timeframes is also hazardous at pretty much any time of day.

The Government resolutely opposed rail innovation until the super-city’s first mayor, Len Brown, won the support to proceed with the city rail link and forged ahead, notwithstanding the funding gap as the Government sat on the sidelines. Eventually, this year, the Government signed up.

Cars have quickly filled the extra lanes on a short patch of the Northern Motorway and will quickly fill the Waterview tunnel & North-western Motorway expansions.

As I wrote 6 years ago about travelling on the western, industrial side of the isthmus: “Occasionally I stray into Neilson St, Onehunga, and quickly realise it was a mistake. There’s no need to be quick about the realisation, of course, because it’s going to be a while before you can escape.”

Construction of the East-West Link, the State Highway 1-20 road route through that western area, is before a board of inquiry, Mill Rd between Papakura & the southern edge of Flat Bush at Redoubt Rd & into Murphys Rd is becoming a more significant arterial and is now the subject of upscale talk, but the arrival of still more congestion isn’t being beaten.

Now, it seems, the third track on rail’s main trunk line will be built, and perhaps the fourth track as well.

Labour’s new candidate for prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, upped the ante yesterday when she said Labour would build light rail between the city centre & airport within a decade, extending to West Auckland in the same timeframe and later to the North Shore.

She would introduce a regional fuel tax, infrastructure bonds & targeted rates.

National’s finance minister, Steven Joyce, again ruled out a regional tax, which he’s previously argued is inefficient. So, too, is doing nothing while Auckland’s population grows by about 50,000/year, with 10-year projections from Statistics NZ of 29,000/year (medium) to 35,000/year (high).

A party in power for 9 years has no room for innovative policy without the audience asking why these policies weren’t already in place and, while both National & Labour issued transport policies yesterday, Miss Ardern had to have the front running.

We are set up, then, for a serious battle of wits over primary infrastructure & housing in Auckland – and the skilful politicians will at least appease the rest of the country, if not produce some sound economic offerings, so the election doesn’t just become about Auckland.

For the voter who thinks more about policy than party allegiance – and these voters, I think, are likely to decide who comes to govern – there are questions not just about policies but about strategies, and particularly funding methods.

Among those questions today:

  • Why has it taken so long to introduce new central government funding for extra housing infrastructure support?
  • Why has the Government steadfastly opposed new forms of tax, or a greater sharing of tax to support regional initiatives & infrastructure?
  • Why have key Auckland transport decisions been delayed so long in the face of record immigration?
  • Why is a board of inquiry examining one proposed section of transport infrastructure – the East-West Link – in isolation from other components such as the third & fourth sections of main trunk rail track and the future port location & consequent transport links?

Those are questions which are obviously aimed at the incumbent government. Other parties have released policies on some of these issues.

Labour has a policy to build, or finance the building of, an extra 10,000 houses/year and Miss Ardern talked yesterday of using a regional fuel tax.

The key transport – access – decisions need further input from all claimants for the government benches. The central issue is integrated decision-making, and the absence of such integration has long been a feature of central government (including bureaucrats) versus Auckland.

Attribution: Party speeches & release.

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Councillors scrap over buying more trains as car imports skyrocket

As statistics were released on Wednesday disclosing that New Zealanders imported 2566 more cars this June than last June, an Auckland Council committee debated long & hard whether to pay a deposit of up to $25 million to import 17 new-style rail vehicles to meet anticipated higher rail patronage 2 years away.

Auckland Transport’s request for the deposit, and an overall shared payment of up to $207 million (cut to $198 million days before the meeting), came weeks after all the council’s long-term plans & budgets were cemented in place. After trenchant criticism from Cllr Desley Simpson for the surprise, Auckland Transport chair Lester Levy & chief executive David Warburton were apologetic, but also firm in their insistence that if the rail units weren’t bought, commuters would be left stranded on the platform.

Others at the council finance & performance committee meeting said it wasn’t really a surprise because increasing stock had been proposed long ago, while the tabling of a 79-page detailed business case was fair indication that the council’s transport arm had been working on the acquisition well before the end of the financial year.

Lee alone with questions about stock

Cllr Mike Lee at Wednesday’s meeting.

Just one councillor questioned the stock being purchased. Cllr Mike Lee, who was one of the council’s 2 nominees on the Auckland Transport board until new mayor Phil Goff decided councillors should no longer be nominated but could put their names forward for board positions like anybody else, believed Auckland would be buying experimental stock that wasn’t used in any of its comparator cities.

The units Auckland Transport wants to buy are independently powered electric multiple units (IPEMUs), which can run on electricity or battery.

Cllr Lee believed hybrid diesel-electric options should have been put before the committee for a comparison, but Mr Warburton said the diesel units weren’t compatible, and the IPEMUs were more sustainable and had been running in light rail overseas for some time.

Cllr Lee: “In my view they are experimental… We have to make a decision with no alternatives…. In terms of financial decision-making this is very poor decision-making. In terms of the strategic approach, this is ad hoc, done in a rush & deliberately so. This is not about new technology… The cardinal element is politics… Making this decision lets the Minister of Transport off the hook in completing electrification of the Auckland network.”

Council debt limit at risk

Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton, responding to Cllr Lee.

The acquisition, if completed on the shared terms proposed, would lift Auckland Council’s debt ratio over its 265% ceiling to about 266.5% in 2019 unless other savings are found.

Mr Warburton said he’d mentioned battery electric multiple units numerous times on visits to the council chamber, but conceded that this proposal wasn’t mentioned in Auckland Transport’s budget documents in May.

He said the option for the council was to delay purchase and insert the proposal in a subsequent long-term plan – “and you won’t have trains until 2021”.

Auckland rail patronage has been on a steep upward curve, rising at 17%/year at the moment. Meanwhile, the road congestion it’s intended to defeat can only worsen, judging by the car import figures. Statistics NZ said national vehicle imports were up $118 million (31%) on a year ago to a record $505 million in June, led by an $86 million rise in new car imports.

Mr Goff said the rail decision would tie in well with infrastructure decisions between the council & government supporting housing growth in South Auckland, particularly beside Stevenson Ltd’s industrial subdivision at Drury.

Mr Goff said the infrastructure measures would bring forward construction of nearly 18,000 houses, and the provision of public transport was essential to move commuters out of their cars.

Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore said the addition of the new rail units was the culmination of 7 years’ work, and a “far more finessed outcome” than when planning for development from Papakura south to Pukekohe started.

The debate closed with 20-1 (Cllr Lee against) support for the purchase. It was dependent on the NZ Transport Agency committing to funding at least 50% of the capital & operational expenditure.

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, images from council live stream.

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Ministers explain infrastructure funding deal

The Government said yesterday it would repurpose its ultra-fast broadband company to co-invest up to $600 million alongside local councils & private investors in network infrastructure for big new housing developments.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce & Local Government Minister Anne Tolley said yesterday: “Crown Fibre Holdings Ltd will be renamed Crown Infrastructure Partners Ltd [though that name has been reserved for a new entity], and bring the investment skills & experience gained through the Government’s world-leading ultra-fast broadband rollout to the job of attracting private investment in roading & water infrastructure that open up big new tracts of land for more housing development.”

Crown Infrastructure Partners will set up special purpose companies to build & own new trunk infrastructure for housing developments in return for dedicated long-term revenue streams from councils through targeted rates & volumetric charging for use of the infrastructure by new residents.

Mrs Tolley said: “This innovative new funding method will be made available to cash-strapped councils who are struggling to fund new long-term infrastructure from their own balance sheets.

“Councils will have the option of buying back the infrastructure at some point in the future, but won’t have to commit to doing so. This is all about introducing outside capital to build this infrastructure, so current ratepayers don’t get burdened with all the costs of growth.”

2 of the earliest projects to be assessed by Crown Infrastructure Partners for investment will be projects in the north & south of the Auckland region previously which Auckland Council said would require investment outside the council’s own balance sheet.

“These 2 large projects can provide an additional 5500 homes in Wainui to the north of Auckland, and 17,800 homes across Pukekohe, Paerata & Drury to the south of the city.”

Mr Joyce said the Government was prepared to be an investor alongside the private sector and take up some of the early uptake risk: “We learnt from the ultra-fast broadband programme that if we derisk some of the early stages of the investment, we can bring in private sector investors to take on much of the heavy lifting as the investments mature. We would expect the Crown’s investment in each project to be matched with at least one-to-one with private sector investment over time.

“This new model is another way in which we are helping councils in our fastest growing cities to open up more land supply so more Kiwis can achieve the goal of home ownership.

“Crown Infrastructure Partners is the logical next step in infrastructure funding following the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, which will deliver 60,000 houses across our fastest growing population centres over the next 10 years.”

Link:
Infrastructure funding detail

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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New Crown entity will advance housing infrastructure

The Government has lodged the documents to establish a new company, Crown Infrastructure Partners Ltd, to support development without breaching local council debt constraints.

Auckland Council has been tiptoeing just below its debt:revenue ratio limit of 265%, and put the concept to the Government of a special purpose vehicle to fund infrastructure in a way that recognises those debt constraints.

Instead of the council funding infrastructure for new development, it will come from the Crown company. Auckland mayor Phil Goff said yesterday this would enable construction of 23,300 homes in the north & south of the region to be brought forward.

Mr Goff said the announcement was made at Drury, in South Auckland, because that was likely to be the first place the new funding would be used, for 700 homes.

Mr Goff said: “The initial investment of $387 million in transport & water infrastructure in Drury South & West, Paerata & Pukekohe will enable the construction of 17,800 dwellings much earlier than would otherwise be the case.

“A further major development will be around Wainui in north Auckland, with $201 million in infrastructure funding required for an additional 5500 dwellings.

“The new investment vehicle will provide capital from the Government & the private sector which will not be debt on the council’s books. It will be funded through development contributions & targeted rates within the new housing developments.

“Auckland is growing by 45,000 new residents/year and requires unprecedented levels of infrastructure growth to keep up with demand. Increasing the supply of housing is a critical part of overcoming our housing shortage and slowing price rises caused by demand exceeding supply of housing.

“The new unitary plan ensures there is adequate land – greenfield & brownfield – to meet demand, but infrastructure servicing that land is necessary for homes actually to be built.

“Special purpose vehicles are another tool in our toolbox to enable us to lift the scale & pace of new housing development.”

Attribution: Mayoral release.

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Council to rejig finances to buy 17 new rail units

Auckland Council’s finance & performance committee will vote on Wednesday on a proposal to buy 17 3-car rail units.

The independently powered electrical multiple units will cost $207 million and are intended to meet forecast patronage growth from 2019.

The council needs to approve up to $25 million in its 2017-18 budget for a deposit for the order to be made in September.

Conditions of the purchase are that the NZ Transport Agency will commit to funding at least 50% of the capital & operational expenditure, and the timing of the NZTA funding must align with the cashflow requirement of the procurement & operation.

In addition, Auckland Transport must reprioritise its capital budget to provide $50 million of the purchase funding, so the council’s projected debt:revenue ratio doesn’t exceed its limit of 265%.

Mayor Phil Goff said on Friday: “New electric & battery-powered trains will have major benefits for commuters living south of Papakura in the high growth areas of Drury, Paerata, Pukekohe & potentially Pokeno. It will also honour a commitment I made at the last election.

“The purchase of the new units, which can operate on lines not yet electrified, allows us to eliminate aging, less reliable diesel trains currently used on the Pukekohe line.

“For commuters, it means removing the need to transfer trains at Papakura, making travel quicker & more convenient. It brings in a cleaner form of transport, eliminating diesel emissions, and ensures a more reliable & comfortable trip for commuters.

“The result is a more attractive public transport system which will help tackle growing congestion levels, especially on the Southern Motorway.

“The units could ultimately be transferred to the Kumeu-Huapai line when the Southern line is electrified in 2025.

“The purchase of 17 new units needs to be made now to meet the greater-than-estimated demand for rail travel. Demand has increased by 17% over the last year, and within months will achieve a record 20 million passenger trips/year in Auckland.”

Mr Goff said the council was also examining cheaper options. One of those is to buy 15 electrical multiple units (not independently powered) for $133 million. Another is to buy units with Korean batteries for $174 million.

Link:
Committee agenda item

Attribution: Mayoral release & committee agenda.

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Tunnel dig starts on Albert St

Work began on Monday on bulk excavation for the city rail link cut-&-cover rail tunnels under Albert St in downtown Auckland.

City Rail Link Ltd project director Chris Meale said it was a milestone for the project: “This work marks a significant point in the construction process as we will start to see the tunnels taking shape. It will be exciting & challenging work from an engineering perspective, as we build rail tunnels below groundwater level, while maintaining surface-level access to Albert St for foot & vehicle traffic.

“The bulk excavation is also providing employment opportunities with about 50 people working on site. This is likely to increase to 80 by the end of the year, once tunnel box construction & waterproofing works are underway, with many being workers employed by local sub-contractors.”

The excavation represents about 10% of the 3.45km length of the twin-tunnel underground rail link, and involves digging 18m (about 5 storeys) at the deepest (southern) point, using long-reach excavators above ground and smaller machinery inside the reinforced trench. The tunnels will then be constructed with a cast concrete floor, walls & roof before the trench is backfilled.

The work will be undertaken progressively from Wyndham St at the southern end to Customs St at the northern end. Excavation at the southern end is expected to be complete by October this year and the northern by the middle of next year.

Construction of the tunnel box is expected to start late this year and be completed by late 2018.

By spring 2019, this section of Albert St will be reinstated with a new road surface, bus lanes, widened footpaths & street furniture.

For those interested in watching the big dig, CRL & contractors the Connectus joint venture (McConnell Dowell & Downer) have provided viewing windows at the Wyndham St pedestrian crossings.

Cut-&-cover construction is being used at each end of the CRL tunnels – between Britomart Station and the future Aotea Station and, later, where it connects to the western line at Mt Eden. Between Aotea & Mt Eden stations, the tunnels will be between 13-42m below ground and bored using a 7m-diameter tunnel boring machine.

The city rail link is jointly funded by the Government & Auckland Council and is expected to be completed in 2023-24. Their joint venture company, City Rail Link Ltd, took over the project on 1 July.

Image above: Looking north along the CRL tunnel route on Albert St.

Link: CRL cut-&-cover tunnel excavation

Attribution: Company release.

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Council gets $300 million infrastructure package, balance sheet-beating deal to come next

Auckland will get $300 million from the Government’s new Housing Infrastructure Fund, which will bring forward construction of 10,500 homes in north-western suburbs Whenuapai & Redhills.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff and Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced the funding package yesterday.

It will enable investment in transport, wastewater & stormwater projects which Auckland Council has earmarked as priority, fast-track initiatives.

Next up, in the next few weeks, is an announcement on overcoming the council’s balance sheet constraints.

In addition to wastewater & stormwater improvements, the $300 million will fund improvements to transport infrastructure, including an extension to Fred Taylor Drive & Northside Drive at Westgate, an update & realignment of Trig Rd, Whenuapai, and a new bridge crossing to the West Harbour ferry terminal.

Mr Goff said: “Over the last several months, I’ve met with the prime minister & other ministers to discuss the Housing Infrastructure Fund. I am pleased Auckland Council has been able to work with the Government to ensure the Government’s wider funding package for infrastructure aligns with Auckland Council’s financial constraints.”

He said Auckland’s bid for funds focused on a small number of highly development-ready areas where funding would accelerate priority projects and unlock housing growth quickly.

“Not only are we accelerating housing delivery, we are creating new centres for employment and increased accessibility across the Auckland region with improvements to Auckland’s transport system.

“Accelerating housing delivery in Auckland is a priority. I welcome the Government’s recognition of the growth challenges facing Auckland and their readiness to work with the council to address issues in our city for the benefit of all New Zealand.”

However, Mr Goff said the city would continue to need billions of dollars of extra investment to keep pace with its unprecedented growth: “Auckland has received most of what it sought from the Housing Infrastructure Fund. In the coming weeks there will be a further important announcement from the Government on new funding options for Auckland that take into account the balance sheet constraints the city faces. We have worked constructively with the Government to find innovative solutions to meet Auckland’s needs.

“The Housing Infrastructure Fund package will help significantly, but with ongoing growth and the pressing need for matching infrastructure, we will need to continue to work together to increase & bring forward investment to tackle Auckland’s housing shortage & growing congestion.”

Attribution: Council release.

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