Months Of Road Work Defended


Why do road works in Auckland take forever, compared to overseas?

Auckland Council transport committee chair Mike Lee has been pondering that since the Quay St road works disruption which severely disrupted traffic flows in a major arterial traffic route and one in an area where visiting cruise ship passengers are processed.

It wasn’t helped by the fact that two years ago, at the same of year, the former city council gave consent for Vector to engage in work in the same section of Queen St.

Comparing the time Auckland road works take to other places Mike Lee said in a letter to the Auckland Transport chair:

“In other international cities, the ability of utilities to engage in road works is subject to financial penalties and strict time limits.  In these international cities, the work must be completed as quickly as possibly -for instance, by working around the clock and at weekends.

In Auckland, my own observation is that apart from the men with the stop-go signs, work largely ceases by 5pm leaving a deserted site and a large number of diggers, earthworks and asphalt laying machines parked up behind barricades.

I understand in Auckland there is a reluctance to force utilities to work in the dark - however hundreds of daylight saving evening hours have been squandered as the work force is sent home at ironically about the same time as frustrated commuters are stuck in traffic adjacent to the deserted sites. Apparently because the utility does not wish to pay the work force penal rates and overtime.”

Mike Lee says the situation “is no longer acceptable to Aucklanders.”
“It is ironic given the huge social and economic costs of road building these days that we in Auckland are so very permissive in allowing our existing arterial roads to be so blocked off for lengthy periods of time on a regular and recurring basis.”

Cycling was the best way to avoid the never-ending road work disruption

While acknowledging Auckland Transport inherited this from a decision from the old Auckland City Council, Mike Lee asks for Auckland Transport at least require Vector to work longer hours in this case.

In reply, Auckland Transport’s CEO David Warburton said his body also inherited from the old city and regional councils its scope, budgets and consent conditions, which collectively preclude work being done 24 hours a day.

“Your comment about contractors not wishing to pay penal rates is not correct. It is safety issues and consent conditions that limit the construction window every day.

Discussing the comparison with overseas cities, Mr Warburton argues:

” There has been comparison with the pace of road works in Singapore and some other Asian countries. you will be aware that the governance, funding base, congestion pricing and resource consenting frameworks in those countries bear little or no resemblance to NZ.

“The organisations delivering the roading portion of this project have international experience with projects of far greater scale and complexity and are using that experience in an attempt to streamline the project within the existing constraints.

“We can not comment specifically on the skill of the Vector contractors but I have no reason to doubt their ability and expertise.

“Auckland Transport is not empowered to instruct utility providers to work outside the boundaries of their consent conditions, but the level of empowerment may be an option worth pursuing in the future.”

As to public outrage about the Quay St works, Auckland Transport’s CEO claims that while there are 200,000 vehicle and pedestrian movements along that route each week, Auckland Transport has had only 2 complaints about it each week.




  1. Feijoa says:

    I saw the road-workers laying asphalt at around 8:00pm last night. We can’t know if that was always the plan or if the request from Mike Lee did filter down…

  2. Stranded on the North Shore says:

    2 complaints about it each week? That’s because the whole thing is a joke. The council lost credibility with this kind of events happening so often and dragging so long. Nothing changed with the birth of Super.

  3. rtc says:

    Not sure if I agree that projects take longer in Auckland than overseas, cities I’ve lived in often had road works dragging on for much longer - compounded by the fact that the workers never worked weekends/public holidays or during the night.

  4. Carolyn says:

    What about Lake Rd in Takapuna? That seems to have taken years (or it feels like it) to do a short stretch of road. Will it ever be finished???

  5. Martin says:

    I would have to agree with RTC

    Roadworks in London literally take months to finish. Many utilities companies dig holes here to get work started on time and then leave it knowing that by having started the work on time they will not be penalised even if the water/gas/electrical/telecommunication/plumbing works will not be returned to/completed many months down the road.

  6. Anne Fisher says:

    Lake Road in Takapuna has been “under construction” for almost 2 years.
    One side of the road is like a suspension test track.
    When is the completion date?

  7. longchops says:

    Until resource conditions allow longer working hours it will not be possible. Balance this with keeping residents awake all night with construction noise and dust. Seems construction companies are constantly required to make an omelette without breaking the egg.

  8. damian says:

    each case is different, some conditions of contract impose traffic restrictions so that you can ony start work when traffic reduces to a certain level, others include noise allowing only certain items of plant to be used, or restricting night works, the other could be the design. I think for lake road they are using concrete as they pavement, not sure why this is the case.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>