Birkenhead’s second slip adds to town centre parking disaster

A second slip has torn another chunk from the slope of a car park in Auckland’s Birkenhead seeing the landslide creep closer towards businesses.

What began as a small crack in Rawene Rd car park in August, has steadily worsened. In October, the back half of the car park slipped down a gorge on October 8.

Now, a second landslide has appeared directly next to the initial slip, on the western side, and the edge of it is a lot closer to the back of Birkenhead’s Mokoia Rd shops.

However, in spite of the growing hole in the middle of the Birkenhead village, local morale remains high and there even a few “slip” puns flying around the town, said Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor.

The new slip is visibly steeper in appearance compared to the initial slip in October but not as deep.

Of course there are worries about the slip, but the main concern for the businesses is the parking situation, Taylor said.

“Although the slip is increasing, we’ve actually managed to mitigate the car parks,” he said.

“We have come up with some really cool solutions. We want our customers safe and enjoying the village.”

Brett Norris, a worker in nearby Rawene Chambers, said it is disappointing the slip has happened, but due to the instability that was “always likely”.

“It’s going to cause more issues going forwards. The business association has done a good job of trying to free up car parks and Auckland Transport is helping,” Norris said.

“This extra problem is not one we expected or anticipated. I think it caught everyone by surprise.”

Auckland Transport Mark Hannan said for public safety all pedestrian and vehicle access to the Rawene car park access road is now prohibited.

The kerb that joins the Rawene car park access road to the pavement is split apart like a broken zipper.

An engineering team and technical specialist was working on the problem and reviewing the stabilisation work which was being done.

“Options to progress the stabilisation work are being investigated and we expect this work to be paused for at least one week.”

Article by Laine Moger
Published November 30 2017 North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

It has happened again: Second slip in Auckland’s Birkenhead car park

A second landslide has torn away another chunk of a car park in Auckland’s Birkenhead, and is creeping towards businesses.

What began as a crack in the public car park in August, has steadily worsened. The back half of Rawene Rd car park slipped down a gorge on October 8.

Now, a second landslide has appeared directly next to the initial slip, on the western side, and the edge of it is a lot closer to the back of Birkenhead’s Mokoia Rd shops.

The kerb that joins the Rawene car park access road to the pavement is split apart like a broken zipper. The slip is visibly a lot steeper in appearance compared to the initial slip in October but not as deep.

Auckland Transport’s Mark Hannan first announced there had been another slip via media release on November 28 at 5pm.

This morning, Hannan said there was no overnight movement of the site following the second slip.

At least 10 engineers were on site on Wednesday morning.

“Building inspectors have assessed surrounding properties and there continues to be no indication of a risk to those properties,” Hannan said.

“Specialists are continuing to monitor the site and stabilisation work has been paused while the impact of the second slip is being investigated.

“In the interest of public safety, pedestrian and vehicle access to private car parks via the slip road is now prohibited.”

Hannan said a piece of equipment, which is described as similar to a platform, fell about three metres. Hannan confirmed no-one had been injured.

Kaipātiki Local Board chairwoman Danielle Grant was at the slip this morning.

Grant said the board was waiting for geotechnical reporting and a stabilisation plan to gain a better understanding of the next steps.

“The main thing businesses are after, at the moment, is clear and ongoing communication.”

‘ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN’

Claire Balfour, chairwoman of the nearby Mokoia Apartments body corporate, said residents were concerned about the significant drop in the car park when it first appeared almost three weeks before the slip happened.

She said the asphalt had originally been poured onto unstable land without a retaining wall and was “an accident waiting to happen”.

Auckland Transport has defended its management of the gaping hole that has appeared where the car park used to be.

AT’s chief infrastructure officer Greg Edmonds said the car park had washed away into the gorge below it following “pretty significant rains” over the past 12 months.

Edmonds said AT had been monitoring the site for 12 months and it took appropriate action when the crack appeared, closing part of the car park and fencing it off for public safety.

Article by Laine Moger
Published November 29 2017 stuff.co.nz

Local Board Gives $15k To Boost Businesses Hit By Giant Slip

After a giant slip hit a parking lot, Auckland’s Birkenhead is getting $15,000 to encourage shoppers back into the town centre ahead of Christmas.

The Kaipātiki Local Board agreed to give $15,000 to the Birkenhead Town Centre Association at a board meeting on November 15.

Construction work had reduced parking spaces before the slip hit, and association chairman Pete Taylor said the money would fund a marketing plan to say: “Birkenhead still has free parking”.

Media attention seems to be giving the wrong impression about Birkenhead’s parking situation given recent events, Taylor said.

“It is certainly not the case that there is no parking left in Birkenhead,” he said.

In the past six months, the Birkenhead town centre has dealt with Rawene Car Park space shortages caused by Auckland Transport renting out public car parks to the neighbouring private developers, as well as the Rawene car park slip.

Most recently, Auckland Council confirmed a $3-million construction plan to upgrade town centre would be going ahead on schedule, despite pleas from business owners asking for a deferral.

The Birkenhead Town Centre Association wants to promote the fact city shoppers can jump on the ferry to Birkenhead, and enjoy the experience of free parking while shopping.

“There are also lots of activities in Birkenhead leading up to Christmas, so the timing of the promotion is good,” Taylor said.

“It will make a difference to lift the public awareness about what is available. The $15,000 will help us tell that story better.”

The local board’s $15,000 funds were reallocated from a budget originally for earmarked for a Birkenhead development programme.

Kaipātiki Local Board chairwoman Danielle Grant said the money was available because a few other projects have been delayed.

“It felt like there was a big need, and they had a good marketing plan,” Grant said.

The board decided to supplement that marketing plan and encourage people in the area to shop locally, she said.

In the meantime, Auckland Transport is working alongside the local board and Auckland Council to identify ways to improve parking and connections in Birkenhead.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 28 November 2017 > Business Day – stuff.co.nz

Auckland Council started $9m project to stabilise land six weeks before landslide

The huge Rawene car park slip could create a dam endangering the iconic Chelsea heritage park below it, council engineers say.

At a local board meeting on Wednesday, Auckland Council’s geotech lead Ross Roberts said they were monitoring the situation “carefully” as there was a risk of the landslide causing a dam.

“The real problem we are considering is that there will be a load of silt coming down,” he said.

Member Lindsay Waugh asked: “On a worst-case scenario could it take out the bank above the lower lake/cooling pond?”

Roberts said he had visited the Chelsea Estate Heritage Park below the slip and the worst-case scenario was “highly unlikely” as any flooding from a dam establishing and breaching would result in over-land flow rather than underground erosion.

“It would spread out and be a bit of a mess on the surface,” Roberts said.

“I might hold you to that one,” Waugh said.

Six weeks before the landslide swallowed the back end of the Auckland City car park, Auckland Council began an “essential” $9-million project to strengthen unstable land below that leads to the Chelsea Heritage Estate.

Auckland Council said, in an email dated August 15, that the Chelsea Heritage Estate stormwater project was to renew the aging and damaged stormwater pipes to reduce the risk of collapse and blockage.

In a prescient email, project spokeswoman Liz Kirschberg said: “Surface runoff from the Huka Road and Rawene Road stormwater drain flows over the former landfill and may cause slope instability during large rain events.”

Construction began at the end of August 2017 and was planned to end December 2018.

Local board chairwoman Danielle Grant said in August, the stormwater improvements to Chelsea Estate Heritage Park should see the land stabilised, the water quality improved and an overall improvement to the main walking tracks in the construction area.

The stormwater project is on-going but engineers are now “monitoring the situation” at the slip-site above.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 20 October 2017 > The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

Q & A: Auckland Council and Auckland Transport discuss Rawene Rd slip

Top AT and Council staff maintain local development had nothing to do with the massive Rawene car park slip last week.

Here is a selected transcript from the Kaipatiki Local Board (LB) meeting on Wednesday night.

They were questioning AT Senior Communications Advisor Nahri Salim, Auckland Council’s Geotechnical & Geological Practice Lead Ross Roberts, Head of Infrastructure Programmes, Haydn Read; and AT Snr. Investigation and Design Engineer Duncan Miller.

How can experts maintain that the pile driving conducted by the adjacent construction worker did not contribute to the slip?

Lindsay Waugh (LB): So was there no consideration, to your knowledge, of the vibrations from the pile driving travelling along the fill to cause the slip? It would seem to be a sensible assumption?

Roberts: No, vibration from soil drilling are insignificant. My experience of other sites, is that the sort of vibrations that you get from that are insignificant. What you get from trucks going along the road create more vibrations.

John Gillon (LB): I’ve heard from a lot of people that every time the piles were driven they could feel those vibrations all around the area, so I find it very curious that there are less vibrations from that than a truck going past.

Roberts: It is difficult to prove, what triggered the slip, almost impossible. This is following a period of very heavy rain.

Gillon (LB): We are looking to confirm that there will be a review to consider all the circumstances that resulted in the car park slip. Who will be doing that review and will it include looking at whether the vibrations had anything to do with the slip, or anything else?

Miller: Whoever does the review, they will be professional services who will be independent and funded jointly by AT and Auckland Council.

What will the review cover?

Anne-Elise Smithson (LB): What are the technical aspects of this review and can you clarify if the review will consider that vibrations contributed to the slip?

Roberts: A scope hasn’t been written for the review yet. When it comes to actually looking at what caused the slip, we can ask consultants to assess whether vibrations had any impact. I would give it it my 99 per cent confidence they it will come back with a “probably not, but we can’t prove it”.

Smithson (LB): But surely it’s not too much to ask to have that included?

Robert: We will ask that question. I don’t think we will get a good answer out of it.

Salim: The point we want to make, the investigation will not preclude any reason. In the same vein, we will not try and encourage the consultants to focus on any one reason over another than the other. This will be a fair review.

Was preventing the slip possible?

Adrian Tyler (LB): I wonder if this carpark had a higher profile some engineering work might have happened rather than just fences going around it. Could you not have done some engineering work to protect the asset?

Ross: To have put in engineering works would have taken number of months. The slip was very deep. There were no signs early enough for the slip to have been prevented.

John Gillon (LB): But AT have been monitoring the site for 12 months?

Roberts: There have been a lot of small cracks but there are lots of car parks with small cracks in them. The cracks weren’t big enough to trigger a detailed engineering response. When it came to the point where it was that serious to trigger that response – it was too late.

Salim: There was no indication that a slip was imminent.

Will Chelsea Heritage Park be affected?

Lindsay Waugh (LB): Has there been any investigation of the slip into the stormwater works in Chelsea Heritage Park?

Roberts: I’ve been down there myself – there is no immediate impact. The real problem we are considering is that there will be a load of silt coming down. There is also the risk of the landslide causing a dam. So we are monitoring that carefully.

Waugh (LB): On a worst-case scenario could it take out the bank above the lower lake/cooling pond? It’s all precarious land so is there a risk of a knock-on effect?

Roberts: It is highly unlikely, any flooding from a dam establishing and breaching would result in overland flow and it would just spread out and be a bit of a mess on the surface.

Can AT reverse the lease of the carparks?

Richard Hills (Ward councillor): The board was never supportive of the leasing of the car parks. However, we were told they were necessary for safety reasons. Now, we can see there are port-a-coms and everything on those car parks, which means the parks are not being used for the original purpose. If it was a private property next door, you wouldn’t be able to do that. I think that would be the best way to get a positive outcome in the short term to release these car parks back to Birkenhead shoppers.

Salim: Auckland Transport is looking into this.

Are there health and safety concerns for the surrounding buildings?

Danielle Grant (LB): I would like a sense of assurance for the surrounding staff of Mokoia Rd shops, Mokoia Ridge Apartments, and the other building sites on Rawene Rd .

Roberts: It looks pretty convincingly like the fill does not extend further than it has. The risk to those shops is completely unchanged. However, we are investigating this to give residents more confidence and more assurance

Birkenhead slip will not affect town centre updates, local board says

The $3-million construction plan to upgrade an Auckland town centre will go ahead on schedule, despite pleas from business owners asking for a deferral.

Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor said given the recent Rawene car park slip in Birkenhead, it was “inappropriate” for the upgrade to proceed in January. He requested it be delayed for 12 months.

Taylor said the upgrade would create yet more strain on an already significant shortfall of car parking in Birkenhead, which would lead to a further decline in revenue business owners.

Local businesses have been “traumatised” by recent events, he said.

The car parking situation in Birkenhead has always been strained, but recent events in Rawene Rd car park have exacerbated the situation, he said.

First, 25 public car parks were leased to private developers and then a further 50 car parks were lost due to the landslide – 26 physically lost and the rest cordoned off.

For example, the centre’s usually lucrative Heritage Week had no increase in business revenue this year, he said.

Taylor requested the 25 leased car parks be given back to the public as a matter of urgency, suggesting a park-and-ride shuttle.

“We want to get the workers cars out of Birkenhead. A shuttle bus system would work and try to encourage people to come into Birkenhead,” Taylor said.

Auckland Transport’s Haydn Read, senior investigation and design engineer, said deferring the upgrade would risk the highly-likely loss of capital funding.

Local board member Paula Gillon said the fact the slip is a natural disaster should be taken into consideration for holding the money over for the next 12 months.

However, local board member Kay McIntyre said financially, if the upgrade is deferred the money will be lost.

“They are not going to worry about the fact that it’s a slip – it’s a car park.

“At the end of the day we have to make our city work.”

“Do it this year or it’s gone,” McIntyre said.

The Birkenhead upgrade saw the Kaimataara ō Wai Manawa completed last September.

Stage one, worth $2,782,452, tackles Rawene Road carpark, the Western Gateway, Mokoia Rd bus stop extension and Le Roys Bush track gateway.

Stage two will be the upgrade of Highbury corner, worth $1,585,000.

Upgrades go out for tender next week.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 19 October 2017 > The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

Cracks under a north Auckland carpark first noticed in August

Residents near a newly-formed slip in an Auckland carpark say they are disappointed it took so long to be taken seriously.

The back half of Birkenhead’s public Rawene Car Park slipped down a gorge on Sunday night and has continued to slip since.

Claire Balfour, the chairwoman of the body corporate of the nearby Mokoia Apartments, said residents were concerned about the significant drop in the car park when it first appeared almost three weeks ago but it seemed impossible to get the full attention of council or Auckland Transport.

From a crack to a landslide

She said the asphalt had originally been poured onto unstable land without a retaining wall and was “an accident waiting to happen”.

While the residents now have an AT liaison, Balfour said they felt they hadn’t been paid much attention till the slip occurred.

“We’re disappointed it’s taken so long, we had to be persistent,” she said.

“We’re just trying to get some assurance that when [the apartments] were built, the people did their jobs properly and built on good foundations.”

Brett Norris, a worker in nearby Rawene Chambers, agreed with Balfours’ remarks and said the selling point for his business was the large car park next door.

But now, from a Birkenhead trading perspective, there were 40 fewer car parks.

We aren’t going to get those back,” Norris said.

Other locals have shared their upset and concern regarding the economic impact Rawene car park’s issues have had on local businesses.

Auckland Transport has defended its management of the gaping hole that has appeared where a north Auckland carpark used to be.

AT’s Chief Infrastructure Officer Greg Edmonds said the Rawene car park in Auckland’s Birkenhead had washed away into the gorge below it following the “pretty significant rains” over the last 12 months.

Edmonds said AT had been monitoring the site for 12 months and it took appropriate action whe the crack appeared, closing part of the carpark and fencing it of for public safety.

He again rejected that vibrations from a near-by development may have played a part saying the “initial view” was that it was more due to the fact it was built in the 1960s on “uncontrolled fill”.

He said the slip was a natural process and the only thing to do was wait and see where the slipping would end and where the solid ground was.

The rear section of the car park was cordoned off by Auckland Transport for safety reasons on September 20, following the subsidence of an already-existing crack.

Now, parts of that cordon lay in the ditch below the car park, alongside large slabs of tarmac with the white car park lines still visible on them.

Local workers who have been observing the situation say it was “ludicrous” that drilling that “shook” nearby buildings, would not cause issues with the car park.

Birkenhead worker Brett Norris said he had been in Birkenhead for 30 years.

“I knew if there was significant shaking it would compromise it [the car park],” he said.

Locla MP Jonathan Coleman said the slip was “a major local issue which is of extreme concern to local residents and businesses”.

He said there needed to be a “medium to long term solution so business is not affected”.

Coleman said he was organising a meeting on Wednesday for AT to inform residents and businesses of what was going on.

Optometrist Tony Craddock asked: “But what happens now? Are we going to have a massive hole in Birkenhead?”

Geotech engineer Bryce Schou said that in principle, it was possible to remediate the area and a slip of that size.

“I can’t speak for Birkenhead specifically, but there are various ways and means to combat what made the slip in the first place, and carry out work to put things right,” Schou said.

However it would come down to a case of costs versus benefits, he said.

AT said in a media release on Tuesday that parking has been restricted in Rawene Rd car park in Birkenhead.

It said the car park had slipped away after heavy rain over recent months.

AT says it was actively monitoring the slip and it has had an engineering geologist on site.

There was no immediate danger but a large area of the car park had been cordoned off. Members of the public must not enter the cordoned off area, AT said.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 10 October 2017 The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

Part of public car park on Auckland’s North Shore slips away

First it was a crack, now the whole back half of a North Shore carpark has slipped away.

The rear section of Rawene car park in Auckland’s Birkenhead was closed off by Auckland Transport for safety reasons on September 20, following the subsidence of an already existing crack.

Fewer than three weeks later, the crack has become a slip.

The manager of a nearby business, who did not want to be named, said the subsidence had got progressively worse.

“Once a crack occurs and it starts raining all the water goes in there and makes it weak.”

He said he couldn’t see the problem being fixed any time soon.

Auckland Transport’s Mark Hannan said investigations were still underway and staff were “actively monitoring the slip”.

He said there was “no danger to the public” but was asking people to respect the cordon.

“We have an engineering geologist on site today to assess and provide recommendations,” Hannan said.

“Engineers are working to determine the stability of the fill and whether we need to cordon off further areas of the car park.”

Hannan had previously denied the cause of the crack was linked to adjacent construction work by private developers Chelsea Bay due to the fact the car park was built on an embankment of landfill.

However, nearby residents weren’t convinced, saying the construction work was so loud it shook neighbouring building Rawene Chambers, and that the car park had been fine until construction took place.

Mokoia Ridge resident David Corlett said he was concerned that Auckland Council has underestimated the impact of pile-driving on unstable land.

The Chelsea Bay developers and Auckland Transport had been contacted for more comment.

Kaipatiki Local Board deputy chairman John Gillon said he had also contacted AT.

SINKHOLE OPENS IN ROAD

Meanwhile, in south Auckland a huge hole has opened up in a rural road.

A section of Kingseat Rd had been closed on Monday afternoon, police said.

The affected area was between Glenbrook and Pearson roads near the village of Patumahoe.

“The road will be closed … for the foreseeable future as engineers assess the hole, which is approximately 2m x 2m in size,” police said.

“Motorists are asked to use the diversion in place via Pearson Rd.”

The hole had formed due to recent rainfall, police said.

GNS Science said natural sinkholes generally form in terrain which is underlain by soluble rocks, such as limestones and chalks.

Water moving through the rocks slowly dissolves them, creating underground holes which are visible when the ground above them subsides.

Sinkholes can also appear when loose soil and silt is eroded by underground water.

They can also be caused by human error, such as incorrect design of a tunnel or mineshaft.

The cause of a sinkhole, such as a broken pipe or design flaw, needs to be addressed before the sinkhole can be repaired, GNS Science said.

Article by Zizi Sparks And Laine Moger
Published North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz October 9 2017

Subsidence in Auckland car park worsens

Cracks are growing at an Auckland car park that has already been closed because of subsidence.

The rear section of Birkenhead’s Rawene car park was closed off by Auckland Transport for safety reasons on September 20, following the subsidence of an already existing crack.

A comparison between photographs taken on September 25 and October 7 suggests the slip has only got worse in the space of 12 days.

Auckland Transport’s Mark Hannan said geo-tech and engineering investigations are still underway and said there is “no danger to the public”.

The difference between the two subsidence levels is almost at waist height, and the crack in the car park has now stretched into the neighbouring hillside.

Hannan has previously denied the cause of the crack was linked to adjacent construction work by private developers Chelsea Bay due to the fact the car park was built on an embankment of landfill.

However, nearby residents aren’t convinced, saying the construction work is so loud it shakes neighbouring building Rawene Chambers, and that the car park has been fine until construction took place.

Mokoia Ridge resident David Corlett said he is concerned that Auckland Council has underestimated the impact of pile-driving on unstable land, especially as construction is about to begin on the Chelsea Bay site.

“In 2010 council declined an application to build Botanical Gardens in Rawene Reserve, the number one reason being unstable land,” he said.

A civil engineer confirmed there would have been a geotechnical report for the construction site, but there was no need to conduct a report for the car park next to the site.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 07 October 2017 > The North Shore Times _ stuff.co.nz

AT gives 25 public car parks to private developers

Drivers are outraged at Auckland Transport’s decision to give a private developer exclusive access to 25 public car parks from an already strained car park on the North Shore.

Despite a significant shortage of car parking in the Birkenhead community, Auckland Transport (AT) has allowed private developers, Chelsea Bay, the use of 25 public car parks for up to 18 months, reducing the capacity of Rawene car park.

Rawene car park has always been a bit narrow and in high demand, but a Neighbourly.co.nz poll has unearthed a plethora of unhappy locals.

Michelle Pratt, who is a manager of a Birkenhead business, is outraged that AT has done this to the local community and has called the incident “abhorrent”.

“How dare they take car parks away from the local library and from local businesses,” Pratt said.

“Auckland Transport has now seriously compromised business and community viability.”

AT media manager Mark Hannan said the developers approached AT for the use of the car parks, while the construction of a 60 unit building for 19-21 Rawene Rd was ongoing.

Hannan confirms that AT arranged the leasing of these spaces to developers, after consultation with the Kaipatiki Local board, as a “safety buffer” between the worksite and the car park.

“We referred the request to the local board, after some questions and answers Auckland Transport granted permission for some parks at Rawene Car Park to be leased as a health and safety buffer.”

However, Pratt said she also has doubts about the safety aspect.

There are many examples of large scale developments all across Auckland who do not have the luxury of having a car park beside them and they manage fine, Pratt said.

“‘Occupied for health and safety is a poor excuse for not managing their own site.”

Kaipatiki Local Board member Lindsay Waugh raised her concerns about the removal of 35 car parks in February.

“I do not see that local businesses should bear the cost of this [the construction workers] convenience,” Waugh said in her report.

The Rawene Rd developers did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

** Auckland Transport’s Mark Hannan has apologised for any confusion around his original statement that stated Kaipatiki Local Board granted permission for the carparks to be used.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 03 August 2017 > The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz