Artist’s impression of the Quay Street northern footpath looking west – part of the Downtown Programme that Auckland Council has identified as a key ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure project
Auckland Council announces 73 priority infrastructure projects
Auckland Council has submitted a list of 73 key projects to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, the taskforce set up by the Government to seek out ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects that can start quickly to stimulate the economy and reduce the economic impact of Covid-19.
In early April, the Government tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that would be ready to start as soon as the construction industry could return to normal to reduce the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, headed by Crown Infrastructure Partners chairman Mark Binns, will put forward to Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones the projects from the private and public sector that would be ‘shovel-ready’ or likely to be within six months.
These new projects will be in addition to and build on the Government’s $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme and existing Provincial Growth Fund infrastructure investments.
“We are focused on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders first and foremost, and we need to get through the lockdown and out the other side of this pandemic. However, the Government is also planning ahead for when that time comes,” Mr Twyford said in early April. “That’s why we are now developing a pipeline of infrastructure projects from across the country that would be ready to begin as soon as we are able to move around freely and go back to work.”
The types of projects the Government will consider funding include water, transport, clean energy and buildings. They must also have a public or regional benefit, create jobs and be able to get underway in short order, Mr Twyford said.
“The reference group will be seeking out larger projects, those with a value of over $10 million, which would have an immediate stimulatory effect on the construction industry, its workforce and the economy.
“Smaller projects will be considered if they demonstrate a direct and immediate benefit to the regional economies and communities in which they are based. In the meantime, the Provincial Development Unit will continue to work with local councils to identify regional roading projects, particularly in the identified surge regions, to provide employment and boost local economies.”
Key priority projects
Auckland Council’s list of infrastructure projects – announced in late April – is made up of two parts: 30 key projects ranked in order of priority, and a further 43 projects that are not ranked but that also meet the Government criteria.
“The 30 key projects are ready to go and fully meet the Government’s criteria,” Mayor Phil Goff says. “They will help stimulate the economy and employment, and produce long-term benefits for both the city and country. They reflect the economic, social and environmental objectives that both Auckland Council and the Government have committed to.”
Many of the projects included in the submission were already underway or planned to start within the next 6–12 months, but were put on hold due to the nationwide shutdown, including the City Rail Link, the Eastern Busway and the Puhinui Interchange.
Other projects submitted to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group include the Downtown Infrastructure Development Programme, the Northwestern Busway Improvements, the Rosedale Bus Station, the Te Whau Pathway, the Puhinui Stream Restoration Programme, the Marae Upgrade Programme, and works to enable Kainga Ora housing projects in Northcote, Tamaki and Mt Roskill.
“Prior to Covid-19, Auckland Council was on track to deliver a capital works programme exceeding $2 billion for the financial year,” Mr Goff says. “As the region with a third of the nation’s population and almost 40% of the nation’s GDP, Auckland Council’s current and planned infrastructure programme will be absolutely critical to the success of this stimulus initiative. I am confident that we are ready and able to play our part in partnership with the Government and the construction industry.”
Chair of the Auckland Council planning committee, Councillor Chris Darby, says, “Not only are these projects ‘shovel-ready’, they are also ‘future-ready’. This once-in-a-generation investment will create jobs for Aucklanders who will build a transforming legacy for our city.”