Western Ring Route Operations Plan, Auckland, New Zealand

Developing the operations plan for New Zealand’s most complex infrastructure project

Without a doubt, the Western Ring Route is the largest and most complex infrastructure project Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has ever embarked upon. Aurecon was closely involved in this enormous undertaking in a variety of roles culminating in being Owner’s Verifier to Waka Kotahi for the delivery of the project.

Aurecon oversaw all six component projects that make up the Western Ring Route to ensure they were integrated with Waka Kotahi’s requirements and interfaces. A critical aspect of integrating the projects into the network was the Operations Plan. Aurecon was the first consultancy to manage this type of project for Waka Kotahi, and quickly became deeply involved in all facets of the programme of works.

The project won a silver Association for Consulting and Engineering Professionals (ACENZ) INNOVATE Award in 2018.

Operational integration

Aurecon’s Western Ring Route Operations Plan was a strategy-led approach. The Operations Plan provided guidance to the route operators for the completed Western Ring Route and allows them to achieve the operational outcomes Waka Kotahi has set.

Proof of Aurecon’s success in this capacity was that it’s projects were delivered on time to ensure that the Operations Plan was ready for the completed Waterview Connection Tunnel to open in July 2017.

Developing this Plan for the project required an intense level of engagement and collaboration with stakeholders. It benefits all stakeholders who play a role in the operation of the Western Ring Route, as well as those who are involved in its ongoing management.

A systems design approach adopting a software systems design approach to the Western Ring Route, Aurecon followed three steps:

  1. Incorporating the aims for which the new road infrastructure was designed
  2. Developing the Operations Plan to know how the infrastructure would be operated
  3. Designing the operations before the project was constructed so that operators knew the rules of operation and what the project was originally intended to achieve

The operational concept carefully manages and balances traffic flows through a series of scenarios used by the traffic control centre on the completed Western Ring Route.

Community benefits

By developing effective operating strategies, separating local and regional traffic, as well as prioritising the appropriate movements, the Operations Plan has enabled shorter and more predictable journey times on both the motorway and arterial networks. The community outcomes from the project include:

  • Economic transformation as a major freight corridor
  • Efficient links to and from Auckland Airport, Ports of Auckland and inland freight hubs, reducing the cost of doing business in Auckland and throughout the country
  • Additional motorway capacity that will also reduce traffic on local roads
  • Urban design features for the communities along the route including new recreational facilities, upgraded and safer parks, as well as greatly improved walkways and cycle paths
  • Unlocking the potential of local communities as desirable places to live
  • Improved resilience and performance of Auckland’s transport network
  • More transport options, including improved walking and cycling connections along the route, which unlocks the growth potential of development hubs along the corridor
  • Improved travel time reliability from the west to the south, the north to Manukau, and from the city to Auckland Airport

Next level collaboration

The Western Ring Route has significantly added to the future prosperity of New Zealand’s fastest growing city and is key to unlocking its potential to become a truly world-class city that all stakeholders and the community can be proud of.

Through the mutual trust, respect and competencies within the unique partnership of Waka Kotahi and Aurecon (together with other consultants), the parties were able to maximise the full range of potential benefits, minimise costs and manage risk to achieve operational integration for the network’s operators and managers.

“Aurecon staff have interacted with the Waka Kotahi team professionally and provided a high level of service across the suite of Western Ring Route projects over the last 11 years. In particular, our project managers working on the Western Ring Route have all interacted with various members of the Aurecon team.”

‒ Sumi Eratne, Western Ring Route Project Director, Waka Kotahi

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