The SMBA has argued for this tunnel crossing because Auckland is too reliant on a single old (1959) bridge to provide the Highway 1 connection to the North Shore. The bridge clip-ons are known to be vulnerable to heavy vehicle loadings and the additional traffic generated by the population increases to the north.
The two-tunnel design will form part of Highway 1, while the existing bridge will carry local traffic to the CBD.
The SMBA continues to argue that trains/light-rail must be provided for in the planning of the tunnels to ensure fast people movement from Orewa to the airport and south.
NZ Transport Agency’s planning for a further harbour crossing continues to evolve, with a significant development in September 2016 being the release of the final report of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project. This project is a collaboration between Auckland Council, Ministry of Transport, Auckland Transport, NZ Transport Agency, Treasury and the State Services Commission to set a strategic approach to Auckland’s transport system over the next 30 years. The report recommends an aligned strategic approach, including an indicative package of transport investment. It is available online: http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Land/Documents/ATAP-Supporting-Information.pdf .
St Mary’s Bay was represented at a NZTA briefing meeting in July, at which NZTA said:
- It was now looking to develop an integrated transport solution rather than a roading-only solution;
- It is likely that it will need to prohibit heavy vehicles from using the outer lanes (1 and 8) of the harbour bridge by 2030;
- The proposed harbour tunnel won’t be needed before 2030 – 2040;
- It will be starting a land designation process after the local body elections, with community consultation likely at the beginning of 2017.
At this time it seems unlikely that the designation process will affect St Mary’s Bay/Westhaven, but we will know more in early 2017. SMBA will continue to monitor this.
This Association is meeting with NZTA on a regular basis (as we did with significant success with the Vic Park Tunnel project). Key decisions from here will include exactly where the tunnels start on the shore (we say Onewa Road) and just where they will emerge on the south side. The entry/exit points can be designed to avoid impact on St Mary’s Bay or Northcote Point (unlike the impact of the current bridge).
In our view the tunnels are needed now. NZTA believes that from 2030 heavy traffic will have to be managed in order to extend the life of the harbour bridge and that the new tunnel will be needed between 2030 and 2040. We believe that this is far too long in terms of efficient movement of goods and people around our city. Instead, we believe that an immediate start on design today could lead to a 10-year timeline to completion.
- Earlier, a proposal for a second harbour bridge had been promoted by private interests, but this was not supported because of the significant environmental damage it would cause, in particular at the entry/exit points on each side of the harbour.