Auckland Transport

Newmarket level crossing

Auckland Transport (AT) will close the railway level crossing connecting Sarawia Street and Laxon Terrace in Newmarket. A bridge will replace the crossing, linking Laxon Terrace with nearby Cowie Street.


Project status: Design
Project zone: Central


Project overview

The removal of the existing level crossing connecting Sarawia Street and Laxon Terrace is required to:

  • Improve safety at the busiest train crossing in the country.
  • Allow greater frequency of services.
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness of rail operations.
  • Create a quieter local environment by removing the need for crossing bells.

Cost

$8m (estimated construction phase).

Milestones

  • 2012 - Public consultation began.
  • 2013 - Analysis of crossing options and selection of preferred option (Cowie Street bridge).
  • 2014 - Feedback from residents and key stakeholders incorporated into bridge design.
  • 2015 - Concept design of preferred option complete. Notice of Requirement and resource consent applications lodged with Auckland Council (October). Public notification of consents (November).
  • 2016 - Hearing and formal consent decision (June). Environment Court appeal and mediation with appellants.
  • 2017 – Resolution of Environment Court appeal (March). Detailed design. (May - July). Construction tender (August). Construction starts (October).
  • 2018 - Completion of bridge and road works (March/April). Closure of crossing, removal of crossing infrastructure and relocation of train signals by KiwiRail (April/May). Cowie St road and footpath renewals work (late 2018).

Project details


The Newmarket level crossing is located 2 minutes northeast of Newmarket centre, where Sarawia Street meets Laxon Terrace.

Closing the level crossing will enable AT to increase the frequency of train services to Parnell Station, and to increase the efficiency and resilience of Metro rail services on the wider network.

In 2013, AT undertook analysis and made a decision on how Laxon Terrace will be accessed once the level crossing on Sarawia Street (known as Newmarket level crossing) is closed. A road-over-rail bridge linking Cowie Street with Laxon Terrace was chosen as the solution.

The Cowie Street bridge option was chosen because it:

  • Provides the safest access for all road users, compared to other options.
  • Accommodates all modes of transport, including pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Provides opportunities for improved connectivity to Newmarket Park and a planned cycling and walking route linking Parnell and Newmarket via the old Parnell rail tunnel.
  • Has the least disruption due to the main work site being located on railway land, away from the majority of residential properties.

Image: Crossing design concept.

Newmarket crossing concept drawing

See a plan of the current design (PDF 132KB).

Features of Cowie Street bridge

  • Two-lane road access into and out of Laxon Terrace.
  • Narrow road width, textured road surfaces, and chicanes (at end of Cowie Street and along the new road) support a low-speed environment.
  • Directed LED lighting along the new bridge and road to ensure a well-lit environment while minimising light-spill outside the road corridor.
  • Tree pits and vegetated swale provide an environmentally-friendly treatment for stormwater run-off.
  • Designed for pedestrian safety:
    • Clear sightlines with no entrapment spaces.
    • Physically separated from Newmarket Park by fencing and/or height differentials (except the existing Laxon Terrace entrance to the park).

Construction of the bridge will require significantly deep earthworks. Geotechnical testing has been undertaken at every proposed bridge pile location to give precise geological information and a full peer review and quality process has been undertaken. This will continue throughout construction, including pile proof-load testing.

Access to Newmarket Park

The crossing design minimises the impact on Newmarket Park and maintains pedestrian and cycle access.

  • The path down to the park will remain with an adjusted alignment.
  • The existing rest area at top of path to Newmarket Park will be recreated, along with seating.
  • The Pou will be relocated in consultation with artist, Renata Blair.

Iwi art integration

AT is partnered with iwi and has consulted with Mana whenua throughout the project.

Two artists are preparing concept designs for:

  • Handrail around observation platform.
  • Footpath concrete patterning.
  • Patterning on concrete bridge abutments beneath bridge.

Stormwater

Following discussions with Mana whenua and AT stormwater specialists, the raingarden in the original design will be replaced with 2 tree pits and filters placed within new chicanes in the road corridor.

Benefits of this design:

  • Same level of stormwater treatment without requiring the area in Newmarket Park.
  • Lower construction cost.
  • Can accommodate all stormwater resulting from the new impervious surfaces.
  • Reduction of sewer overflows (approximately 50%) at Cowie Street by conveying stormwater from the road to the vegetated swale.
  • Allow more vegetation & trees to be retained compared to the raingarden option.
  • Where possible, stormwater will be removed from the combined sewer network.

All captured stormwater will be treated to a level in line with Auckland Council’s TP10 guidelines. The proposed change from raingarden to tree pits will be submitted to Auckland Council’s Team Leader Central Monitoring for approval at completion of design.

To avoid seepage of treated stormwater into the surrounding soils and to mitigate stability concerns for the adjacent slopes, all treated stormwater will be captured and conveyed into the existing stormwater pipe network.

The KiwiRail access path is expected to be utilised for swale maintenance.

Use of chicanes

AT initially investigated speed tables, but chicanes were preferred as a result of road safety auditor and other traffic engineering feedback.

A chicane at the end of Cowie Street is required as part of the measures to retain the existing poplar tree located there. The 2 chicanes along the top of Newmarket Park are required to comply with the traffic engineering advice of our designers Opus, and the findings of the road safety auditor.

Traffic calming in those locations was a feature of the design presented to Auckland Council during the Notice of Requirement and Resource Consent hearing. Accordingly, approval was granted on the expectation that traffic calming would be included.

At the May 2017 Community Liaison Group, it was suggested that cobbled, textured surfaces such as used near the Auckland War Memorial Museum may be effective. However, upon investigation, we do not believe this would be sufficiently effective on the relatively long stretch of straight road to be built.

Mitigation of impacts on Cowie Street

Following Environment Court appeal mediation with the Cowie Street Residents Association, AT has agreed to mitigation work to preserve the amenity value of Cowie Street. We will :

  • Ensure as many existing trees as possible are retained, especially the large poplar at the end of Cowie St. A timber boardwalk will help protect the root network.
  • Retain the existing ambience of the street with tree-planting and lighting adjustments.
  • Bring forward planned road and footpath renewals work, including reducing the existing cross-fall on the road.=

To save duplication of scheduled renewal work, and the associated disruption to residents’ access, we will do the mitigation work on Cowie St as part of AT maintenance works programme, separate to this project.

Specific timing is based on the maintenance programme, however, we have agreed to complete these works within 2 years of our agreement with the Cowie Street Residents Association, i.e. by March 2019.

Changes to Sarawia Street

The bottom of Sarawia Street by the level crossing will become a cul-de-sac. A turnaround area will be provided, with fencing and planting to indicate the change to the end of the road.

There will be a gated, locked maintenance access onto the rail corridor for KiwiRail.

Parking changes

Removal of car parks

No public car parks will be removed from Cowie Street. However, following the purchase of a portion of the current car park for 9 Cowie Street, which will be used for the extension of the road, this private car park will be reduced in size. This will result in a net loss of 4 private car parks once the project is completed.

During the construction period, there will be no greater loss of public car parking. Some private car parks at 9 Cowie Street might be briefly impacted during site clearance or resurfacing work. Impacts and timing of these works will be discussed with the affected residents before construction commences.

AT understands that the property owner of 9 Cowie Street will be discussing the potential impact of this change with tenants.

The loss of car parks was an item discussed during the Auckland Council Notice of Requirement hearing held in 2016. This originally proposed the loss of 4 car parks from Cowie Street’s public parking area as well as from 9 Cowie Street, but this was changed following points raised at the hearing and subsequent design revision.

Parking on the bridge or new road

Parking along the length of the bridge and new road will not be permitted.

Impacts to traffic

To inform the design, AT undertook traffic counts early in 2012, measuring traffic volumes between the hours of 7am and 9am, 12pm and 2pm, and 4pm and 6pm.

The 7-day average traffic volume was 409 for Cowie Street and 425 for Sarawia Street, Laxon Terrace and Youngs Lane combined. The 5-day average (i.e. weekdays only) was 370 for Cowie Street and 381 for Sarawia Street, Laxon Terrace and Youngs Lane combined.

Traffic exiting Cowie St on to Parnell Rd

Our traffic modelling showed minimal increases to vehicle queues exiting Cowie Street, with a slight increase in queuing times (averaging between 2 and 5 seconds during peak periods) for vehicles turning right. As such, the visibility for cars exiting right from Cowie Street on to Parnell Road is considered an existing issue which is not significantly impacted by the project.

However, this has been referred to AT’s traffic safety team to consider whether there is a safety concern currently, or in the future after the project is completed.


Public engagement

AT began engagement with residents and community groups in November 2012, holding a public forum at the Parnell Community Centre in December 2012 and encouraging public feedback via a survey on what would replace the crossing.

Following a decision in November 2014 by the AT Board to proceed with a bridge linking Cowie Street and Laxon Terrace, local residents were surveyed on 3 bridge options to help determine which design AT would progress. The final bridge design was presented to the public at a community meeting on 29 April 2015.

View the Community Liaison Group April meeting presentation (PDF 2.87MB).

Consent process

AT lodged the Notice of Requirement (NoR) and associated resource consent applications for the Cowie Street bridge with Auckland Council in October 2015. Submissions in support or opposition closed on 18 November 2015 and submitters were invited to have their say at a hearing held in front of independent commissioners.

AT received the formal approval of the resource consent application to construct the bridge from independent planning commissioners on 17 June 2016 and the AT Board accepted it in August 2016, however, the recommendation was appealed to the Environment Court.

In May 2017, the Environment Court appeal was resolved, and detailed design began.

Following the Environment Court mediation, AT reached an agreement with the Cowie Street Residents Association (CSRA) over the Cowie Street bridge and connecting road.

We held a community liaison meeting on 29 May 2017 to brief affected residents on the detailed plans for building the bridge, managing the new road, establishing cycle and walking facilities, planting, lighting, and environmental protection.

View the community meeting presentation (PDF 660KB).

Pre-construction communication plan

To guide how AT will communicate with, and manage feedback from, key stakeholders on the project throughout the detailed design phase, we have prepared a draft pre-construction communication and consultation plan.

Read the draft pre-construction communication and consultation plan (PDF 392KB).

Feedback on the contents of the plan was open from 29 May until 19 June 2017. We will publish the final version after all feedback is reviewed.


Next steps

Draft detailed design of the road and bridge structure is completed and a road-safety audit and peer review is underway.

Further feedback on remaining aspects of the design will be sought from the Waitematā Local Board and residents/property owners.

Construction

Construction work is scheduled to commence in October 2017 and be completed in March/April 2018.

Post-construction works to rehabilitate and further beautify Cowie Street are scheduled to be carried out later in 2018.

We will hold regular meetings with community throughout the construction phase.

During construction

Access to Newmarket Park from Laxon Terrace

Access to the park from Laxon Terrace will be maintained throughout construction, with traffic management as required.

When the project is completed, a new access point from Laxon Terrace to Newmarket Park will be provided.

Removal and treatment of contaminated soil from the rail corridor and Newmarket Park

Material excavated from the rail corridor and any other contaminated area within the project works will need to be disposed of at a landfill appropriate to the level of contamination. The nature of the contamination is not expected to require any special treatment during excavation (protective equipment for workers etc.) other than to keep contaminated spoil separate from non-contaminated so it can be removed from site and disposed of appropriately.

Should unexpected contaminated materials be encountered during excavation, the project’s Site Management Plan (SMP) addresses the steps to be taken to safely and responsibly manage the material.

This plan is a condition of the project resource consent, and is to be certified by Auckland Council before the project works begin. We plan to publish a copy of the SMP on this web page before construction starts.


Outside scope of the project

Shared paths

A 4m-wide shared pedestrian and cycling path was one of the options considered, but we decided on a standard road and footpath width due to the combination of additional impact on Newmarket Park land requirements, stakeholder feedback, and the comparatively low volume of cyclists expected.

There is an initiative led by the Waitematā Local Board to form a pedestrian and cycling path through the old Parnell tunnel. If built, this will connect with the KiwiRail maintenance access ramp that projects from the observation area of the new road.

This ramp has the width and gradient to allow easy adaptation to a shared path should the proposed Parnell tunnel pedestrian and cycling path proceed.

Widening the footpath in Laxon Terrace

This project concentrates on work required to achieve grade separation of the Sarawia Street level crossing (with resulting benefits to safety and rail efficiency) and does not include improvements to the length of Laxon Terrace.

However, we have received a request from the Local Board and Laxon Terrace Youngs Lane Residents Group to widen the footpath in Laxon Terrace. AT’s Local Board Delivery team is investigating this request as a separate undertaking.

Connecting Laxon Terrace to Furneaux Way

AT has no plans to create a connection to Remuera Road by joining the end of Laxon Terrace to the private road, Furneaux Way.

Should this change, it should be noted that any such plans would need to go through a publicly-notified process, similar to that undergone by this project.


Background information

Original options considered

Cowie Street bridge

This option involves construction of a two lane road bridge from Cowie Street to Laxon Terrace. It is the most expensive option under consideration.

Concept features of Cowie Street bridge

  • Two-lane road access into and out-of Laxon Terrace and Youngs Lane
  • Pedestrian and cycle access to Newmarket Park is maintained
  • Some land acquisition will be required
  • Cowie Street will experience a minor rise in traffic volume

Cowie Street Bridge image

Furneaux Way

This option is to create a new low-speed, low volume, access way through Furneaux Way.

It is also a less expensive and simpler engineering option.

Concept features of Furneaux Way option

  • Clear sightlines to be created and maintained and approach visibility a safety priority.
  • Landscaping and paving to be kept in local residential character, and of domestic scale.
  • Will also provide traffic calming, be safely lit and enhance local visual amenity.
  • A traffic safety report on the Furneaux Way option (PDF 1.48MB) was carried out.
  • All options allow sufficient width for emergency and large vehicles e.g.rubbish trucks.
  • Current pedestrian movements through to Furneaux Way are maintained.
  • Furneaux Way and James Cook Crescent will experience a minor rise in traffic volume (refer to Traffic Effects for more information).
  • AT would assume responsibility for maintaining Furneaux Way as a public road.

Furneaux Way through road images

Newmarket Park

The option proposes deconstruction of a two-lane road and footpath through Newmarket Park connecting Laxon Terrace to Ayr Street. This is a less expensive option than the Cowie Street bridge, but is technically challenging due to ground instability issues.

Concept features of Newmarket Park option

  • Two-lane road access into and out-of Laxon Terrace and Youngs Lane.
  • Acquisition of Newmarketed Park land from Auckland Council will be required.
  • Ayr Street will experience a minor rise in traffic volume (refer to Traffic Effects for more information)
  • Will include traffic calming
  • Will result in loss of amenity for Newmarket Park users.

Newmarket Park images

Other crossing removal options

Other options explored included:

Vehicle underpass

An underpass from Sarawia Street was considered previously but dismissed due to construction and cost challenges compared to a bridge.

Over rail bridges

Options for bridges from either Sarawia Street or Cowie Street were previously explored by KiwiRail in 2011, with the Sarawia Street bridge option dismissed due to gradient issues.

Newmarket Park roads

Options for a road through, and a road around the park have been explored by Auckland Transport. Both roads carry high construction risks due to ground stability and the option for a road skirting the edge of the park was not progressed further.

Reports and consultation documents


For more information on this project

Contact Auckland Transport