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.”
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.