Transit rethinks tunnel entrance

By Bernard Orsman

Transit New Zealand has abandoned plans for a new $3 billion harbour tunnel coming up in the middle of the entertainment strip at the Tank Farm.

A new study to determine the best route for a new harbour crossing will be unveiled on Sunday, including Transit's and the region's preference for a tunnel to the east of the harbour bridge.

Last night, Transit chief executive Rick van Barneveld said the agency was no longer looking at bringing the tunnel up near the cement silos adjacent to the Jellicoe St entertainment strip. It might be better to extend the tunnel to Cook St but have an entrance near Fanshawe St and the Tank Farm for public transport, he said.

A tunnel entrance at Fanshawe St would involve some approach work on the Tank Farm which could be done while building sites were being prepared.

Mr van Barneveld said an entrance at the Fanshawe St end of the Tank Farm for public transport could have huge benefits for the urban renewal project.

A new harbour crossing is not expected to be built until at least 2020, raising timing questions with the Tank Farm development.

Sea + City, the company overseeing development of public land at the Tank Farm, wants to start work at Jellicoe St next year to have the entertainment strip ready for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee was confident a tunnel would not affect the waterfront development and not "come up anywhere near Wynyard Pt [the official name for the Tank Farm]".

Under the proposed zone change for the Tank Farm, the council will set a transport mix target of 70 per cent public transport/walking/cycling and 30 per cent motor vehicle.

This is the reverse of the 70:30 motor vehicle, public transport/other modes mix in Auckland City at present.

Once the mix is set, developers will have to show how they are going to implement it.

Sea + City said maximising travel options would reduce traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, reduce travel costs and stress while reinforcing the idea of a people-focused urban village.

The main access points to the Tank Farm will be Fanshawe St and the proposed new Te Wero bridge across the Viaduct Harbour.

The $35 million bridge will open to retain boat access to the Viaduct Harbour and provide pedestrian and public transport access to the main entertainment strip on Jellicoe St.

The intersections with the Tank Farm along Fanshawe St are currently close to or over capacity from the 42,000 vehicles and 1000 buses that use Fanshawe St every day.

Possible solutions include a four-lane underpass for Fanshawe St at Halsey St at a cost of $80 million. A new $5 million footbridge over Fanshawe St will provide safe pedestrian access to and from Victoria Park.

Within the Tank Farm, there are plans to expand the existing east-west and north-south street grid with a series of small lanes to create smaller development sites measuring about 70m by 60m.

Public transport will be provided with two main bus routes and ferry services.

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