Northern Corridor Improvements Project, New Zealand


Northern Corridor Improvements Project, New Zealand

Collaborative engagement builds a new key connection in Auckland

The Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project is building 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 through the west. 

It’s a project that will build on the improved travel times and resilience 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, including the award-winning Tirohanga Whānui bridge

Aurecon is working closely with the NZ Transport Agency to ensure the community voice strongly contributes to the planning, design and construction of projects so that each part of the transport network is meaningful for users.

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

The challenges

  • High levels of traffic congestion on roads
  • Population and employment growth putting more pressure on transport services, including the highly successful Northern Busway and bus express services
  • New motorway connections and highway upgrades required to complete the Western Ring Route and ease congestion
  • Limited walking and cycling connection within the project area

Empowering the users

Aurecon NZ was contracted by the NZ Transport Agency throughout 2016-17 to undertake the NCI project’s design and consenting phase. The Transport Agency and Aurecon NZ worked collaboratively together to develop a comprehensive engagement strategy during this time.

The decision to genuinely empower, collaborate and involve mana whenua, key stakeholders and the community was seen as 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 choices across all modes – vehicles, buses, cyclists and pedestrians. Success will rely 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.

The joint client-Aurecon NZ team made a commitment to put 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 engage with the Transport Agency to discuss matters of concern and, in some cases, to negotiate alterations to the project.

A structured approach brings out the community voice

The engagement plan recognised that 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.

A relationship matrix and action plan were developed to identify stakeholders, the communication pathways to reach them, and the feedback mechanisms to obtain input from affected individuals or businesses. A Multi-criteria Assessment Tool helped ensure feedback informed decision-making at every decision point.

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

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 of 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, so the bridge option did not proceed.

The NCI project will help facilitate inter-regional 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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