Auck Motorway Plans For 2011


NZTA says it will start construction next year on improvements to sections of Auckland’s Southern and Northern Motorways but funding has yet to be approved.

NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland, Stephen Town says he wants Southern Motorway improvements started mid-year and those on the Northern Motorway late next year after the Rugby World Cup.

He says while funding for both projects is still need to be approved, their development has to be balanced within the NZTA’s national State Highway plan.

NZTA presented an outline of its proposals to the Auckjand Council’s transport committee today.

Planned improvements to the Southern Motorway include:

  • Constructing additional lanes from Manukau to Papakura, and upgrading the Takanini interchange.
  • On the North Shore, The NZTA will complete the motorway link between the Western Ring Route and the Northern Motorway at Constellation Drive, and construct a third northbound lane on State Highway 1 between Constellation Drive and Greville Road.

The two projects are linked to the development of the Western Ring Route.

The construction will be in 4 stages over 10 years:

  • Stage 1:  Hill Road to Takanini, additional lane
  • Stage 2:  Takanini to Papakura, additional lane
  • Stage 3:  Takanini interchange improvement
  • Stage 4:  Southwestern Motorway to Hill Road, additional fourth lane

The first of the Northern Motorway improvements will be construction of the Constellation-to-Greville third lane northbound.




  1. Eric says:

    I’m glad they’re doing the fourth lane to hill road. It’s good they’re fixing it after the disaster when the southwestern extension opened.

  2. Luke says:

    that looks like another few hundred millions dollars, spent at the drop of a hat on motorways. Not necessarily bad projects, but just a real double standard between SH investment in auckland, and investment in public transport and local roads.

  3. jarbury says:

    The Constellation Drive connection is a massive amount of money just to make the connection between SH1 and SH18 look bettrer on a map.

    What another massive waste of money.

  4. Matt L says:

    Just one more motorway upgrade then we can quit, just one more, we’re in control and can quit when ever we like. Yeah right, we are roading junkies and can’t kick the habit, I wonder when rock bottom will hit?

  5. Matt says:

    Eric, and then it’ll have to be a fourth lane from Hill Road to Takanini, then on to Papakura, then Drury. By which point there’ll be a fifth, or sixth lane under construction south from Mt Wellington, requiring another lane from Hill Road. Etc etc ad infinitum. Because no matter how wide you make it, more people will come. Induced demand guarantees it. Look at LA’s 10-lane freeways that’re glorified parking lots for eight-plus hours a day.

    As Matt L says, we’ve got roading junkies in command and they just can’t admit they’ve got a problem.

  6. Eric says:

    Matt, the fourth lane extension will provide an auxillary lane for traffic coming from the southwestern meaning that traffic has longer to merge with the southern motorway and cars going straight to hill road don’t have to merge at all (as they currently do). You can’t deny Matt that this needs to be done seeing the complete disaster that has happened at the southwestern-southern interchange. I’m sure that as Auckland’s population grows they will add a fourth lane, but this is now and they can’t cone of one lane forever! This explains it better:

  7. Matt L says:

    Eric I think you miss the point, we are perpetually spending money to upgrade motorways but until recently haven’t spent anything on PT, yes it might seem like a good idea and needed but so every other widening project and upgrade that came before it all promising to ease congestion once and for all only to be full again within a few years and needing to be widened again.

    The other issue is that Auckland has had to fight tooth and nail to get any funding for PT at all yet roads have the NZTA/Government (including the previous one) falling over themselves to pay for even though the PT option might provide greater benefits to the city and economy on the whole.

  8. Eric says:

    I only agree with the extension to hill road and I couldn’t care less about any of the other road projects planned (I’m a regular train user myself). I think I worded my other comment wrong. This is only needed to fix the problem that the just recently opened southwestern-southern interchange created, that being that there is not enough space to merge for cars. This extension should have been included in the original construction but due to short-sightedness it was never done.

  9. Kel says:

    Widening the roads will make them safer. One thing I noticed about driving in Auckland is the highways are narrow and crowded and everyone drives really fast. And that’s judging after spending most of my driving life living in crowded Asia.

  10. Andrew says:

    Kel, while widening roads makes them feel safer to go faster, in reality it makes them more hostile and dangerous places for anyone not inside a car.

    Have you used Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga Highway, the Ellerslie/Panmure Highway around Panmure, or the Albany Expressway or any similar road as a pedestrian or, worse, on a bike?

  11. damian says:

    Good news!!

    I was actually thinking the other day that if all drivers stop changing lanes all the time we probably would need all these additional lanes to be built.

    Plus we should impose speed restrictions at rush hour with average speed cameras to enforce it. Imagine how much faster we’d all get to our destination if we had a fixed 70kph speed limit at rush hour.

  12. Matt L says:

    Eric – I don’t believe that the NZTA underestimated the affect the Manukau extension would cause like they claim. It is likely that they knew about it but when budget pressures came on that was the bit that got the chop as they knew that by creating a bottleneck it is easier to justify getting additional funding to sort that issue, funding that they wouldn’t have had otherwise or that may have made the project not viable.

    I see to day that is going to cost $160mil to do both of these projects and that it has now been signed off by the NZTA no questions asked. If a PT project needed that kind of money it would need to jump through hoops to get it. If they genuinely didn’t anticipate this then the engineers who designed and signed this off should not have jobs in the field ever again because their incompetence has just cost the taxpayers dearly.

  13. Matt says:

    Eric, so four lanes to Hill Road merging into two lanes? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. In fact, the merge from three lanes to two at Hill Road is one of the worst parts of the south-bound trip even off-peak. So there’ll have to be (and is planned to be) an extra lane added south of Hill Road. Then, because the merging of four lanes to three lanes will be a choke point, the fourth lane will have to be extended south.

    It never stops at “just one more” for junkies and alkies, and this lot of compulsive road builders cannot help themselves either.

  14. Luke says:

    I see in the herald today it will cost $80 million each just for stage 1 of the southern and northern widening.
    We should not be building these projects if the problem is only a peak times.

    Just appals me that Auckland is facing big rates rises just to keep its rail network standing still, and motorway money is provided just because the Transport Minister gets a couple of emails.

  15. Linz says:

    Why don’t we just build every road 20 lanes wide and be done with it. Demolish every town centre and suburb while we’re at it, ‘cos they only slow us down on the way.

  16. Matt says:

    Linz, I see where you’re going with this, and find your reasoning intriguing. Why stop at 20 lanes? Why not just pave the whole country?

  17. Andrew says:

    @Linz, Matt - excellent idea, then we won’t even need lanes, you’ll simply be able to drive in a straight line directly to your destination.

    That your destination (and your origin) has been removed to make way for said paving is a mere technicality.

  18. damian says:


    Kel is refering to motorways not arterial routes

  19. Eric says:

    @ Matt , Ok so build the third lane then if it will fix it (your logic on that makes sense). But all that should have been done in preparation for the opening of the extension.

  20. Matt says:

    Eric, it’s easy to look at what’s happened and say the work should’ve been done, and it’s been planned for a while, but NZTA are pleading that they didn’t see the demand coming. That their calculations were thrown out by more traffic than expected joining from Roscommon Road rather than through Manurewa/Takanini. Predicting human behaviour is hard. And besides, it’s a great flag to wave at Joyce and say “Induced demand in action. Ya plonker.”

    My point is that it won’t stop at the third lane. Or the fourth. Or the fifth. Unless there’s a collective “ENOUGH!”, the junkies will keep on taking hits. Hell, they want to replace the Harbour Bridge with something bigger even though traffic volumes are static or falling. If the current petrol price is maintained for months, the impact on vehicle movements across Auckland will be profound. And we’ll still be facing down a Minister of Trucks and Minister of Finance who will continue to insist that public transport in Auckland is a waste of money because everyone will keep on using their cars.

  21. Luke says:

    I’ve see older statements from NZTA where the acknowledge traffic takes months to settle down after new motorways open. I believe they conduct traffic reviews but this is not until months after the motorway has opened.
    Also note that several bridges in the area are closed/disrupted because of rail electrification works.
    Therefore there is no way that NZTA should make decisions like this so soon after opening.

  22. karl says:

    “Therefore there is no way that NZTA should make decisions like this so soon after opening.”

    Joyce needs to spend the money quickly so there will not be a red cent left for the CBD tunnel, or other pt and cycling projects.

  23. Kurt says:

    Good news on the Constellation to Greville section, its diabolical most of the time.

    And yet the south bound section is almost as bad through to Tristram, but then they will need to widen Tristram to the Bridge and then …………………..

    But as said here there can never be enough motorways ever ever unless a decent alternative is built, heaven forbid.

  24. Eric says:

    Matt, the main problem with the Auckland motorways is the consistency. The fact that in some sections it goes from 5 lanes down to 2 then back up to 4 or as you point out 3 down to 2. These create bottlenecks because people are changing lanes to go down to 2. With the third lane extension south of Hill road it means that it is now 3 lanes going on three lanes eliminating the need to merge. You could argue it’s 4 lanes to 3 but remember the fourth lane is an auxillary lane that runs from the southwestern to hill road and the ‘core’ of three lanes is kept and so the cars coming from the city are left largely unaffected except for southwestern cars merging. You could argue that all the traffic coming from the southwestern will offset the effects but remember if the third lane extension wasn’t built then it would be four lanes going down to two which as you said is “a recipe for disaster’ and some of those cars will be getting off at hill road anyway and won’t need to merge (and ramp signals to control the flow). Also as a conteract to your ‘junkie theory’ this is the first time an extra lane has been added in almost fifty years so going on that logic we wont need another lane till 2060 (although due to Aucklands growth rate I’m sure it will be earlier then that). Also I hope that they widen the Mt Wellington overbridge from 2 to 3 before they start to add any more lanes at either end of it as you said. Like I said, consistancy is the key.

  25. damian says:


    You touch on a good point. Ideally you should be able to start at the top of the northern motorway and stay in the left lane all the way south. The motorway additions and design is too adhoc.

  26. Matt says:

    Eric, it is not the first time a lane’s been added “in almost fifty years”, or even close. The Southern Motorway at Manukau is now five lanes wide north of the Redoubt Road off-ramp. When I was not all that much younger it was three lanes.
    Similarly there’re now between four and six lanes in each direction between CMJ and St Lukes Road, and more projected. The NW widening is going to go to four (six?) lanes each way all the way across the causeway.

    Our motorways have been widened like topsy. Every year brings a new lane somewhere. It might be decades since anything was done at Hill Road, but it’s very definitely only months since new lanes were added to the Southern further north. Hell, there’re new lanes on the South-Western that weren’t there five years ago.

    Junkies, plain and simple. They just can’t help themselves.

    And damian, see above about just building 20-lanes-wide and being done with it.

  27. Matt L says:

    You can keep building wider motorways but it doesn’t solve congestion, have a look at this image, is this what we want through our city? it is highway 401 in Toronto

  28. Matt says:

    Matt, what’ve we told you about posting porn on blogs? Joyce’d need a towel if you showed him that!

  29. karl says:

    There’s clearly still excessive amount of land between our motorways. It has to be removed.

  30. damian says:

    That picture of Toronto just demonstrates the benefits of having additional lanes. Look at how much more traffic is now moving per hour as a result of all those lanes. Can you imagine the how long that que would be with out it and the lost productivity.

  31. Matt L says:

    Damian those cars aren’t moving, that is the point, no matter how many lanes you put it you can’t stop congestion and not having those extra lanes wouldn’t make the traffic queue longer as people would just choose not to drive at those times. The thing is you can’t solve congestion, what you can do though is increase mobility with effective PT. A prime example of this is our harbour bridge, despite not having any lanes added recently and being at capacity, since the busway opened vehicle numbers have actually dropped but the number of people crossing the bridge is at an all time high so that stretch is actually more efficient without any lanes being added as a result of higher quality PT.

    The majority of those cars will only have a single occupant. It probably would have cost the same to put a train line along the route as it did to make it half of those lanes, a train line with high frequencies could easily move up to 40,000 people per hour as well as being far faster than that mess. That would free up the road for other traffic and mean all of that width isn’t needed which in urban areas means more space for development.

    Another thing is that most people seem to think roads are being used efficiently when they are completely jammed at peak times but the reality is they aren’t, once they get congested like in the pic above they actually move less people than when they are more free flowing. Also the size of the road space doesn’t dictate how many people are moved, e.g. on Dominion Rd cars in traffic often think that the bus lane should be opened up because they only see a bus every 2-5 minutes but in reality that single bus lane is carrying 50% of the people travelling along the route, opening it up would just cause more cars to pile onto the route and end up slowing everyone down.

  32. damian says:

    Most people actually dont want to use trains and that is probably why we are so gun ho on building more roads and lanes.

    PT is a means to an end for most people rather than the first choice.

  33. Matt L says:

    Ahh the old fall back argument of road builders, people use cars because that is what people prefer. The reality is people make logical decisions about transport just like anything else, they will use what is cheaper, easier, faster and has a higher quality. In the last 60 years we have focused on making roads better without investing in PT and we have gone from one of the highest per capita PT uses in the world to one of the lowest. In the last 5 -8 years we have slowly started investing in PT again and patronage has shot up as a result, this is not from people who are only using because they have to but because they want to. All other things being equal I would prefer to catch the train because it allows me to read/sleep/do work while on my commute rather than sit behind a wheel focusing on the car in front of me.

  34. damian says:

    to be fair if I could get a decent and quick trip to the Mt for my holidays via train I would.

    PT is a funny old chestnut, maybe once we get more growth in the country we might see more money being spent on PT because the benefits of PT will not be seen by the majority of the public at present.

    So for the greater good for now we need to stick to spending money on roads, with a view to improving spending on PT once the economy improves and population increases more.

  35. Matt L says:

    And there is one of the other common fall backs, lets finish the roads first then we can work on PT. The roads will never be finished as there is always something else that could be done so going by that we would never see any PT improvements. What should happen is both PT and roading improvements should be assessed equally and money spent on the one that will deliver the most benefit. This widening shows that if it is a road then instant funding can be found no questions asked but if a PT projects it needs to go through a million hoops. Just because it is a road, it doesn’t mean it makes economic or social sense.

    As for the growth issue, it doesn’t just happen for no reason, again there are logical reasons for it and it needs to be encouraged and planned for. Putting in a good quality PT system has the ability to drive a lot of growth because it makes it easier for people to get around and freeing up roads for more freight or other vehicle dependent business i.e. salesmen.

  36. Pickle says:

    Lets just start quad tracking the southern line now even though funding hasn’t been approved.

  37. damian says:

    I dont suggest that we should finish roads first because we never will. Long term there are many benefits of increasing the amount, but for now people and the government dont see this as a priority.

    The money spent on roading will provide more benefits to a greater audience than PT will at the moment.

  38. Matt says:

    Damian, and when petrol is $2.50/L and most people cannot afford to drive anywhere unless it’s absolutely essential, then what?

    It will be a generation before electric cars are an affordable reality for the majority of NZ. In the interim, skimping on PT because “roading will provide more benefits to a greater audience” is short-sighted and ultimately will cost the country more money through opportunity cost of people not travelling at all.

  39. KLK says:

    Damian: “The money spent on roading will provide more benefits to a greater audience than PT will at the moment.”

    If it ultimately doesn’t get you to your destination any faster, because induced demand will result in congestion and will eliminate time-savings, then how?

    Answer? It doesn’t. That position is a fallacy.

    They could have added extra lanes on the Harbour Bridge, but instead they built a busway. Patronage on that busway is up 400% from opening and now more people go across the Bridge than ever, and certainly more than if extra lanes were built for cars.

    If you want an example of why your statement is flat out wrong, the busway is it. Its so obvious its starting to get ridiculous each time NZTA announces a further increase in busway usage.

    And the end result? A less congested drive for those who still want to take their car over the bridge.

    Everybody wins.

  40. JC says:

    I agree that we are spending far to much money on widing roads, and I also believe these guys planning our highways don’t know when to say stop, we have done enough for now.

    That being said , we live in Mangere Bridge and we love our new motor way lanes and new bridge, it has helped hugely.

    However we cannot just keep building and widing roads because they look good, we cannot afford it and in many cases we dont need it.
    Investment into our city is a great thing, however there is nothing wrong with saving for a few years then look at it again before committing to it.

    Our city and country just cannot afford to spend spend spend, and we as tax payers cannot afford to have rates increase each year at 4.9 per cent. That just isn’t fair on all of us.


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