The Eye of the Fish

January 29, 2020

New infrastructure

I’ve been a bit quiet lately but this is something that we have all been waiting for. Yes, it is the start of the election bribe season, or perhaps it is truly the best time in the world financial cycle to borrow money, but regardless, today Grant Robertson has announced a series of big infrastructure spending. Most of these announcements are to do with roading projects up in Auckland, but we are only interested in what is happening down here in the Head of the Fish. Here are the juicy eyeballs of the Fish:

Melling Interchange

Much needed and much overdue, the Melling Interchange is being justified, justifiably, as to do with safety first.

I’ve long found it baffling that our capital city has a series of traffic lights along the Hutt motorway: the most shockingly dangerous place to put a series of stop signs. Yes, I know that technically it is not actually a motorway, but come on, you know that it really is. The cyclists risking their lives along here are madder than most, but at Melling, with its cute little station/coffee shop, where not only trains come to a stop but also all the cars: this is just madness. Hooray therefore that a new interchange is going to be installed at Melling – for safety reasons alone this is a good idea, but even better is that the pedestrians to the train station will also get a new, safer route too. No longer having to walk along the edge of the busy motorway over bridge, a new pedestrian bridge will connect to a new railway station. Not as good as what I had hoped for: that the train tracks itself would be routed over to the east bank of the Hutt River, so that the “Melling Line” could eventually be extended through the Hutt as a second train route to the second-largest part of Wellington’s suburban satellite cities.

Hooray for Melling! All systems are GO!

Otaki to Levin

This one is a lot more controversial: purely a roading project, and a safety concern for sure, but still a worthy project nonetheless.

You might not have taken much notice of this part of the country – it’s flat, its boring, its full of cars driving through small towns and tiny village communities that are annoyingly in the way: Manukau, Kuku, Ohau, and the biggest and most irritating of all, Levin. It also races along next to the railway, flipping from side to side over small and skinny very outdated bridges – this really is a safety concern. Indeed, just before Christmas, a truck crashed off the road, jackknifed across the road, with the truck unit itself landed in a small family cemetery, in the process blocking off the entire SH1 for about 5 hours. The truck had the misfortune to have crashed in one of the most vulnerable parts of our entire NZ roading network: just past a rail bridge and just next to a bridge of the river. Amazingly, it seems that there is not a single alternative route this side of the Tararua range: not a single additional road nor a second bridge, and so the entire country ground to a halt.

Putting a new route through here: clear of the railway, over new river bridges, away from the small villages of Ohau, Manukau and of course, away from the bustling metropolis of Levin. This project makes sense.


Here we get to the bit that concerns us most: at last, some movement at the Basin and the first steps to really Get Wellington Moving. Ummmmmmmm….. I am still waiting on that. Grant? Have you forsaken us in our hour of need?

29 - 01 - 20

So, from Stuff, this is the full list of projects for Wellington:
• Four-laning SH1 from Otaki to North of Levin.
• The second stage of SH58 safety improvements for Greater Wellington.
• The Melling interchange project.
• Improvements to rail line between Wellington, Wairarapa and Palmerston North.
• Mobile dental services.
• Wellington hospital neonatal bedside and centralised monitoring.
• Hutt Valley acute mental health facility.
• Replacement of copper pipes at Wellington Regional Hospital.

Therefore: absolutely nothing for LGWM. I guess we’re not going anywhere after all…

29 - 01 - 20

The thing that always baffled me about Melling, was that in 2016 NZTA upgraded the Haywards intersection to a fully grade separated interchange, when it was obvious to everyone that Melling was the major source of congestion on the corridor… I guess the need for a new bridge over the River meant the project was to big for the budgets…

Good to see it underway,

As for O2NL, I see this as part of a long term project to upgrade SH1 between Auckland and Wellington,

Once Completed there will be many people calling to upgrade SH57 between Levin and Palmy (and then on to the newly completed route over the hill)
but after palmy the population centres get pretty small to demand much more extending of a full express/motorway ( unless another 5 million people have arrived)

At the northern End I would expect to see SH1 creep from Cambridge to Piarere and then to Tirau, ( debate will then likely focus on a link to Rotorua and out to the kaimais)- but again from Tirau South it starts to get pretty hard to justify a fully separated Dual carriageway…

29 - 01 - 20

I totally agree Greenwelly – about the need for Melling Link at least. Not sure myself that there would ever be a need for two-landing all the way to Palmy, but certainly I’d support the insertion of the occasional Passing Lane at regular 20km intervals. It’s murder without them.

30 - 01 - 20

I’m not saying its gonna happen tomorrow, but with Kiwirail’s freight hub, and the continuing development of Palmy as a major distribution centre for the lower North island (NZ post, Mitre 10, countdown, Toyota etc) the freight pressure on the 30km from the end of the O2NL to Palmy will continue to increase, Eventually some government will bite the bullet and greenlight it, but It may still be 20 years away.

Around the same time it would probably worth while dual tracking ( and potentially electrifying the NIMT up to Palmy as well, allowing for a much more frequent intercity rail link )

Henry Filth
30 - 01 - 20

Oh for G*ds sake. Can some New Zealand government for once get out of the regressive mentality of simply paving the cattle-tracks and having the sheer brass neck to call it strategy?

Overall – “We recognize that in a volatile geography like New Zealand, there is a strategic requirement for a multi-threaded national transport infrastructure”.
Rail – “Over the next thirty years, we will electrify, double-track, and upgrade the NIMT line to allow for the introduction of 250km/hr passenger services from a terminus at Wellington Airport to Whangarei.”

Road – “Over the next fifty years we will upgrade SH1 from Wellington to Whangarei to a minimum of four lanes with sufficient land purchased to allow for expansion to six lanes. Four lane main roads to the Palmerston North-Whanganui-New Plymouth-Hamilton loop and the Wellington-Hawkes Bay-Gisborne-Tauranga-Hamilton loop allow for adequate redundancy in case a truck has a flat tyre at the Taihape traffic lights

External ocean – “Over the next twenty years we will ensure that both the North and South Islands each have two geographically-separated deep-water ports capable of handling large container vessels and petroleum tankers and log carriers to service import and export trade”

Internal sea routes – “Over the next twenty years we will commit to the development of a two geographically separated terminals for inter-island traffic with supporting road, rail, and air infrastructure, and to the implementation and maintenance of sufficient port infrastructure to allow the sea transportation of internal freight”

One imagines that much of the cost can be covered by deferring two rounds of lane-marking maintenance on the Island Bay cycleway.

30 - 01 - 20

I understand that transport is important – all right, vital – but this endless agonising is getting too much for me. It’s like getting stuck in a clapped-out Prius taxi in an eternal tailback for the Terrace Tunnel while Julie Anne Genter and John Morrison bicker in the back seat. And all the time the meter is running.

1 - 02 - 20

Starkive – that’s a truly horrible mental picture you have implanted in my head there, thanks. John Morison’s twitchy old grey moustache always gave me the shivers.

Mr Henry Filth – can I call a vote for you to be the Minister of Succinct Strategy for the next government? Seems remarkably clear and simple the way you put it – why can’t anyone else get their heads and lips around those statements?