Published 23 March 2011
The NZ Transport Agency released a bundle of study reports yesterday – available in e-book & pdf formats on its website – on an additional harbour crossing for the Waitemata Harbour between the Wynyard Quarter & Northcote, without picking a preferred option.
The agency said it expected a Government decision would come next year or later and would rely on local feedback, which would come through submissions on the Auckland Plan, a spatial planning document being released today.
Auckland mayor Len Brown said it was appropriate that the study reports didn’t recommend a preferred form of crossing, given the prime minister’s support for the Auckland Plan process: “The reports indicate a bridge would have a marginally higher cost:benefit ratio than a tunnel, but also note that obtaining consent for a bridge is improbable. My initial view is that the tunnel option makes more sense. However, I want to hear Aucklanders’ perspective on the options available.
“Tunnelling technologies are advancing quickly and many countries are building combined road & rail tunnels that would future-proof our system. The study only looks at dual tunnels and I hope the NZ Transport Agency will look at single tunnel options for the future.
“Whichever option is agreed to, it must include capacity for rail. Sooner or later, a rail link will be required to the North Shore. But more than that, a rail link to the North Shore is required to make the rail network as a whole work properly.
“Public transport will be a key focus of Wednesday’s Auckland unleashed summit. Getting our public transport system right is not negotiable if the new Auckland is to achieve its potential as the world’s most liveable city and the economic powerhouse of the nation.”
The NZ Transport Agency said the evaluation study had been undertaken to identify whether a bridge or tunnels running between the Wynyard Quarter west of the Auckland cbd and Esmonde Rd on the North Shore was the best form for an additional crossing for the Waitemata Harbour.
This is what the agency said in its overview:
This builds on the 2008 Waitemata harbour crossing study, which was undertaken to provide the region with certainty on the corridor for a future crossing option in response to plans to redevelop the Wynyard Quarter.
The NZ Transport Agency has identified an additional Waitemata Harbour crossing, operated in conjunction with the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge, as the most appropriate solution to provide flexibility, resilience & sustainability for the expected growth in Auckland’s population & traffic. Together, the existing bridge and the additional crossing will provide 14 lanes for general traffic, public transport and walking & cycling. In 2008, 5 regional partners – Transit NZ (the NZ Transport Agency’s predecessor), the Auckland & North Shore City Councils, the Auckland Regional Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (Auckland Transport’s predecessor) – undertook a study to consider 159 different crossing options. Their recommended preference was for 4 bored tunnels: 2 to carry 3 lanes each of highway traffic and 2 to each carry a single line of rail, located between Esmonde & Onewa Rds on the North Shore and Victoria Park in Auckland City. Following publication of the New Zealand national infrastructure plan in March 2010, the Minister of Transport asked the NZ Transport Agency to develop the 2008 study further, with a focus on the costs & economic efficiency of the different forms of crossing, either bridge or tunnel. These investigations would develop a business case for an additional crossing which would support the progression of a crossing through the subsequent development, consent, design & construction phases.
The business case aims to provide the NZ Transport Agency with a clear understanding of the costs associated with each form of crossing and whether this represents the best value for money in the transport, economic, social & environmental setting. The business case will provide a greater level of robustness in the decisions that lead up to the construction of an additional crossing.
The 2010 study focused on 4 key areas:
· engineering & planning
· transport & traffic modelling
· economics, and
· network plan.
A number of reports have been prepared relating to each of these areas (under the Publications & reports tab on the NZ Transport Agency website). Although these reports have been prepared by the NZ Transport Agency’s consultants, the agency has not yet endorsed the conclusions of the reports. The study reports do not recommend a preferred form of crossing. Given the size & scale of the project, it is important that Aucklanders are able to have their say about their preference for the type of crossing. The NZ Transport Agency also recognises the importance of the Auckland Plan, the Auckland Council’s vision for this city’s future. A key component of the plan will be the development of the waterfront & the city centre.
Tunnels or a bridge will have a huge impact on that development and it is important that Aucklanders, through their council, are able to make a recommendation about their preference.
An Auckland Plan discussion document is being released by Auckland’s Mayor, Len Brown, today. Also, the Auckland Council will be putting separate information on its website about the potential land use impacts of a tunnel or a bridge option. The Auckland Council is also developing its long-term plan, which will detail its key projects for the future and how those projects could be funded. To help the city make an informed preference, the NZ Transport Agency will provide expert advice & information. Given the size of the project, there are a number of other issues, including how it could be funded, that also need to be resolved first before a decision on the type of crossing is made. After a period of engagement, primarily through the Auckland Plan & the Auckland long-term plan, the NZ Transport Agency’s board will consider the feedback and then make a recommendation to the Government. The timeframe of a Government decision is yet to be determined, although it is anticipated that it will be 2012 or later. Aucklanders’ preference for the type of crossing will be a key factor in this decision.
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Attribution: NZ Transport Agency release & report, Auckland Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.