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Auckland to get second harbour crossing

Auckland's second Waitemata Harbour crossing as part of a $10 billion transport mega-plan will be a tunnel, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

Mr Key has just made the announcement at an Auckland Chamber of Commerce event at Sky City today, where he also confirmed the government's support for Auckland's city rail link.

The prime minister announced the city rail link earlier this week after it leaked to the media.

He also today announced plans to accelerate a trio of state highway work among crucial infrastructure projects for Auckland.

The tunnel is estimated to cost $4.6 billion and will not be built until 2025-2030.

New Zealand Transport Authority is to confirm the preferred alignment and anticipated route by December.

Although a tunnel would cost about $800 million more to construct than a bridge, there would not be as many difficulties in the resource consent process, Mr Key told media.

A second crossing has long been discussed as an alternative to the heavily congested Auckland Harbour Bridge, which was opened in 1959.

The full media statement is below:

PM signals next generation of Auckland transport projects

Prime Minister John Key today outlined the Government’s plan to kick-start the next generation of major Auckland transport projects, including the City Rail Link, and to accelerate a trio of State Highway projects.

Speaking at an Auckland Chamber of Commerce event today, Mr Key said the Government is backing Auckland to succeed by advancing crucial transport infrastructure projects.

“There is a next generation of major projects that is going to be required to develop and improve transport in Auckland for the benefit of the city and the country,” says Mr Key.

These are the combined Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) and East-West Link, the second Waitemata Harbour crossing, and the City Rail Link.

“These three projects are all identified as the highest transport priorities in the Council’s Auckland Plan,” says Mr Key. “They have a price tag of around $10 billion and they are projects that need to be planned for over a long period of time.”

On the City Rail Link, Mr Key says that as he indicated earlier this week, the Government is committing to a joint business plan for the City Rail Link with Auckland Council in 2017 and providing its share of funding for a construction start in 2020.

“We will consider an earlier start date if it becomes clear that Auckland’s CBD employment and rail patronage growth hit thresholds faster than current rates of growth suggest.

“I realise 2020 is not what the Council leadership is wanting, but while we may differ on timeframes, there is clear recognition by the Government that the project will be needed to address access to the Auckland CBD and improve the efficiency of rail,” says Mr Key.

On the second Waitemata Harbour Crossing, Mr Key says the New Zealand Transport Agency is moving to confirm the preferred alignment and protect the anticipated route by December this year.

“The Government agrees with the Auckland Council that the next crossing should be a tunnel,” says Mr Key.  “A new harbour crossing is likely to be needed between 2025 and 2030.”

Mr Key says the Government wants to speed up the combined Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) and East-West Link project, and Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee would be getting advice on which elements can be accelerated and how funding can best be targeted.

“The area between Onehunga, Mt Wellington and East Tamaki is home to a number of industrial and logistics businesses that make a critical contribution to the Auckland and national economy. 

“Many people are employed in the area and there’s considerable growth potential, but the transport links in and out are not up to the job,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key also signalled the Government intends to accelerate three other projects on the State Highway network in the Auckland region to address congestion, capitalise on the benefits of the Western Ring Route and improve access to the airport.

These projects are to complete a motorway-to-motorway link between the Upper Harbour Highway and the Northern Motorway at Constellation Drive, widen the Southern Motorway between Manukau and Papakura, and upgrade State Highway 20A link to the airport to motorway standard.

Under current funding assumptions, a start to construction on these projects may be up to 10 years away, but Mr Key says the Government is not prepared to wait that long.

“The NZ Transport Agency has been asked for advice on how to bring forward the construction start dates for these projects. The Government will be providing additional funding to enable this to happen,” says Mr Key.

“The Government’s direction on transport in Auckland is clear – we want to accelerate vitally-needed projects and get on with the job.”

More by Niko Kloeten

Comments and questions

Strangely enough, the bridge is the only part of the Northern Motorway that actually flows! The feeders from either end with increased / decreased lane numbers is the real issue.

Anyone who comes in along the northern motorway in the morning knows it is not the bridge that causes congestion - rather the fact that the motorway is only two lanes wide from Albany to Tristram Ave, and only three lanes wide thereafter. Once you get past Onewa Rd the congestion disappears.

Yep, hardly rocket science is it to figure out that 5 lanes on the bridge cope rather well with 2-3 lanes feeding in.

How many volcanos is Auckland built on again?

62, I think.

Your point? Even in the rare event of a future volcano, it is likely to be from Rangitoto or further out, not in the CBD.

Ummm, not at all. The volcanic field indicates it's likely to be a new volcano. The only expection to this was Rangitoto, which erupted twice and it was our most recent eruption. They have no idea where it will come up if it does again.

48 volcanoes, Mike, your point?. It's cars rather than the road, Nick, that cause congestion. The roads just need to cope with them to help reduce it.

I do not think it's cars, rather heavy traffic like trucks carrying containers. If they restricted heavy traffic not to use the major arterial routes between 7am and 9am, and again from 4-6pm, or put bulk goods on rail, there would be minimal congestion. The motorway is not the problem, getting on to it is, and one less truck leave room for three passenger cars.

Have to agree with the last part of your comment. It used to take me half an hour just to get through Onewa Rd before I was on the motorway when I was living in the Shore.

Semantics Anonymous. Congestion means there isn't enough space on the motorway for the number of cars. We need more lanes or less cars.

A "second" harbour crossing pre-supposes that the ageing present crossing will still be around in 2025-30 and still able to function at today's capacities. Who's kidding who?

We don't need heavy rail on North Shore. Light rail tracks can be built on the present busway and both buses and trams use it.

There is no reason why light rail shouldn't be extended all the way to Wellsford.

Good to hear they are going to finish the Upper Harbour Highway/ Constellation Drive link. Can do without traffic lights on roads trying to move a volume of vehicles!

Our office is on a side street off Constellation Drive. Simply put we don't leave between 4.15 to 6.15, as it's nigh on impossible to get out.

It's great that a new crossing will be available, but the congestion isn't really on the bridge, its between Greville and Onewa roads.

Build more lanes!

The harbour tunnel should be linked directly to an eastern highway. Now that would really make common sense and get the traffic flowing . But that idea is wishful thinking probably as common sense mostly doesn't prevail with Auckland planning.

All train stations have to be supported by secured public car parks to be train commuters will like to have 15 to 30 mins walk from their homes, or vise versa!

I don't see where the money will come from. The government just agreed to cover the cost of the majority of large projects in the ChCh rebuild, and Aucklanders generally don't want big rates increases.

The only thing I find amazing about the PM's news is the length of time it's taken for the world's worst kept secret to finally go public.
More than a decade ago a brilliant and very senior Kiwi engineer expat working in North America told me quite bluntly that the decision to go with a tunnel had been made quite a number of years even earlier. All the later discussion over a bridge was, as usual, just chatter to keep the peasants thinking their input was important''- my words for a rather less dignified comment.
Considering how many seriously big mothballed tunnel boring machines are scattered around the globe, I fail to see why they can't just drop one down a hole and get on with it. But I guess we need another decade to have some school kid Maori naming contest before it's allowed to grind the sacred soil. Why don't we give the job to the Chinese and it will be finished by 2015.

Bikes and trains are the future (not cars). Focus on the future. Auckland does not need another vehicle crossing. If you build it more cars will come.

Electric trains and bikes are the future, not cars. Build a car tunnel and more cars will come. Build a free bike lane and more bikes will come.

The ferries aren't that expensive and currently they just don't carry that many bikes ie there really is no demand for bikes to cross the harbour. So a bike lane would be a waste of money.

It's about time NZ's biggest city got some decent infrastructure - even Bangkok has an underground rail system. The real shame is that non-Aucklanders will also foot the bill.

Wow ... what a lolly scramble, all with taxpayer monies.

Might be time to head off overseas and let someone else pick up the tab for this one?

"... and will not be built until 2025-2030."

So it's not actually being built at all then.