Aucklanders prefer tunnel to new bridge

By Mathew Dearnaley

Mayor Len Brown. Photo / APN
Mayor Len Brown. Photo / APN

Aucklanders prefer tunnels to a new bridge across Waitemata Harbour, even at an extra cost of $1.4 billion, which may have to be paid for from tolls.

The draft Auckland Plan says public submissions favoured tunnels between Northcote and the northern end of Spaghetti Junction.

Although these would be motorway tunnels at first, they would run under Wynyard Quarter, leaving open the possibility of a rail link to the North Shore from a station beneath Gaunt St.

They would also enable removal of the Victoria Park motorway viaduct, which will be given over to southbound traffic once a cut-and-cover road tunnel through the park opens early next year for vehicles going north to the existing bridge.

A Transport Agency report in March put the cost of a second bridge at $3.9 billion and a pair of three-lane motorway tunnels at $5.3 billion.

Agency consultants reckoned a bridge could be fully paid for from tolls of $6 each way to use it and the existing 52-year-old crossing, and a tariff of $8 could cover the cost of tunnels.

But an Automobile Association survey found only 8.2 per cent of its Auckland members would want to pay $6, although almost half would accept $4.

The Auckland Council plan acknowledges that a new crossing, which it believes will be needed by about 2030, will cost much more than can be provided from traditional money sources.

But it does not suggest what "new revenue tools" would fit the bill.

It says the council prefers the proposed crossing alignment, to the west of the central business district.

But Council for Infrastructure Development chief Stephen Selwood says an eastern route would divert traffic from the motorway chokepoint and give a more direct link to the port.

- NZ Herald

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