Key milestones reached on vital transport projects

Minister of Transport Michael Wood has welcomed the opening of the tender processes for Auckland Light Rail and the Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project, marking an important step forward in developing a future-proofed rapid transit network that will serve generations of Aucklanders.

“These two crucial projects represent a huge investment in a growing Auckland, allowing faster trips and reduced emissions, made possible by this Government’s firm commitment to shape Auckland into a thriving city where people have real options to move around the city safely however they choose to travel by car, on public transport, by bike or on foot,” Michael Wood said.

“The progress on these transformational projects follows the Government’s announcement in late January to bring forward planning of the Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project to ensure a fully integrated transport network for Auckland, with faster trips and reduced emissions.

“As I said at the time, decisive leadership is needed to develop the linked up rapid transit network that should have been built decades ago. By making a clear decision about the future of Auckland Light Rail, and integrating it with the Additional Waitemata Crossing, we are now able to move to the next step in creating the network that will connect hundreds of thousands of people across the city”

“The Auckland Light Rail project will provide a 24km route with up to 18 stations or stops from the City Centre to Māngere and the airport, running every five minutes and capable of carrying up to 15,000 passengers per hour at peak - four times more passengers than a dedicated busway or trackless trams. The route will include tunnelled light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill, continuing above ground to the airport running parallel to the SH20 motorway, with the provision of safe walking and cycling options along the corridor and with connections to all stations.

“The light rail route will also be integrated with current train and bus hubs and the City Rail Link stations and connections, bringing Auckland’s transport infrastructure into the 21st century, allowing faster trips and reduced emissions. City Rail Link is the heart of Auckland’s transport network, and Light Rail will form the spine of what will be a fully integrated rapid transport network that will lead us into the future.

“Light rail can also be extended to the North Shore and North West without having to transfer from one line to the other. This transformational project will also help to create up to 97,000 new jobs by 2051.

“It is positive to see the investment certainty brought about by the Government’s commitment to building Auckland light rail. We have seen just this week Auckland Airport announcing a $300 million-plus Transport Hub development, which will specifically cater for future mass rapid transit to the airport. By pushing ahead with this project, we are giving certainty to business to make important commercial decisions now, to plan around critical infrastructure.

The tender process for Auckland Light Rail is being co-ordinated with the tender process for the Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project, in order to ensure that the industry professionals who plan and design these projects are able to best plan for the pipeline of infrastructure work coming across Aotearoa.

The Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project will provide reliable, efficient, and sustainable transport options across the harbour, expanding the city’s existing rapid transit network, completing a strategic walking and cycling link for Auckland, and making the urban roading network more resilient. Planning work on the Waitematā Connections project will begin later this year, with a preferred way forward determined in late 2023. 

“Auckland’s population is projected to rise to two million by the early 2030’s. In order to move two million people around our largest city safely and efficiently, we need well-planned and connected infrastructure. We’re not going to repeat the previous mistakes of ad hoc planning and be left scrambling to build infrastructure when it’s too late – this rapid transit system is about making sure Auckland is able to flourish as it grows,” Michael Wood said.

The Government’s investment in regional infrastructure is also continuing to deliver results with today’s opening of the Kawakawa roundabout, marking the official completion of $21.5 million in state highway improvements for Northland.

“This suite of improvements for Northland’s state highways will boost productivity and save lives,” said Michael Wood.

“The roundabout upgrade has helped solved so many problems that were concerning locals – dangerous and risky manoeuvres have stopped, traffic queues are reduced, and frustrations have cooled.

“The area also now has dedicated paths separated from the road to keep those walking or riding their bikes separated and safe from vehicles.”

“Alongside the Kawakawa improvements, intersection upgrades have also been completed at Northland’s Puketona Junction and Rawene Road as part of Government’s New Zealand Upgrade programme.

“These roundabouts both sit on the Twin Coast Discovery Route, Northland’s main tourist artery. By improving traffic-flow we are also enhancing tourism opportunities in the region and reducing delays for the freight industry who help supply the hotels and restaurants heavily relied on by visitors.

“Safety improvements including new seal and new road markings have also been made at the intersection of SH12 and Rawene Road which is a key gateway for community and tourists visiting Rawene and connecting with communities across the Hokianga harbour, via the ferry,” Michael Wood said