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Northern Corridor Improvements Project, New Zealand

Aurecon connects its client with the community and stakeholders to design transformational traffic projects in Auckland’s north

The Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project is a programme to build a new key connection in Auckland’s transport system. It is the final part of the NZ Transport Agency’s 48 km Western Ring Route, providing a second route around Auckland to connect the south and north around the west side.

Aurecon is playing a significant role in this transformational project by managing the community and stakeholder engagement.

It’s a programme that will build on the improved travel times and resilience, which customers are already experiencing since the opening of the Waterview Connection. The NCI project includes:

  • Greville Road Interchange upgrade with SH1.
  • SH18 Upper Harbour Highway upgrade to full motorway standard between Albany Highway and SH1.
  • Northern Busway extension to Albany Bus Station.
  • A direct motorway to motorway connection between SH18 and SH1.
  • New 7 km network of shared walking and cycling paths.

Transport projects can influence the daily lives of communities so it’s therefore important that their views and priorities for mobility are included in project design and planning.

The current situation

  • High levels of traffic congestion on roads.
  • Population and employment growth putting more pressure on transport services.
  • Transport delays due to lack of sufficient priority measures for buses.
  • Arterial roads need upgrading to motorway status to complete the Western Ring Route and ease congestion.
  • Limited walking and cycling connection within the project area.

Empowering the users

The decision to genuinely empower, collaborate and involve mana whenua, key stakeholders and the community was critical due to the highly complex and accelerated nature of the project.

The NCI project has the potential to be truly transformative for the fast-growing northern areas due to its planned investment in the full range of travel modes - vehicles, buses, cyclists and pedestrians. Success relies on the community taking up these options; however, construction will have a significant impact on some community facilities, reserves, special environmental areas and private properties.

Aurecon approached community consultation with the commitment to place public interests at the heart of all decision making and achieved this with a formal and structured engagement approach.

In its report and decision, the Board of Inquiry for the project recognised that there had been a great many opportunities offered to those potentially affected by the project to discuss matters of concern with the Transport Agency and, in some cases, to negotiate alterations to the project.

A structured approach brings out the community voice

The project area is heavily urbanised and tightly constrained. This means more than 130 individual properties, 160 buildings, 8 residential suburbs, 8 000 businesses, educational facilities and 10 hectares of publicly-owned open spaces come into contact with the project area.

An engagement matrix and multi-criteria assessment tool were developed to identify stakeholders, the communication pathways to reach them, and the feedback mechanisms to obtain input from affected individuals or businesses.

Meaningful engagement with stakeholders has contributed to design changes to suit them, as well as recognise the importance of their voice, and involvement with the final designs. For instance, the project team’s successful consultation with the owners of an apartment complex and the body corporate resulted in a change to engineering designs which avoided damage to their shared stormwater assets of the whole block of apartments.

Feedback was gathered in many ways including:

  • Newsletters
  • Identifying community ambassadors to encourage community participation
  • Morning breakfast/coffee drop-in sessions
  • Open days
  • Information hub
  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Attending community events

A good example of where public participation helped shape the planning process was the decision not to proceed with a proposed bridge link across the motorway. Community ambassadors encouraged community members to complete an independent survey with their views on the bridge. The project team listened to the community and their concerns that a bridge link would significantly increase the traffic volume into a quiet residential suburb and make the area unsafe, and consequently did not proceed with the bridge option.

The NCI project will help facilitate interregional travel between Auckland and the northern areas, improve network resilience and ease congestion for all modes of transport. Importantly it will provide options for greater access and mobility for local communities.

The project team is immensely proud of the results of mana whenua, stakeholder and public participation in the NCI project’s design and consenting phase.

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