A strong majority of Aucklanders support a combined road and rail tunnel for a new harbour crossing, according to a NZ Herald-Kantar Vote 2020 poll.
A freak gust of wind that tipped two trucks on their side, severely damaging a load-bearing steel strut on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and causing ongoing traffic chaos has reignited debate about the need for a new crossing.
In the poll, there is overwhelming support nationwide for a new tunnel to augment the Auckland Harbour Bridge with 58 per cent of voters calling for a combined road and rail tunnel and 12 per cent wanting a light rail only tunnel.
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Among Aucklanders, a total of 80 per cent of voters want a tunnel, with 66 per cent opting for a road and rail tunnel and 14 per cent a light rail only tunnel.
Only 6 per cent of voters nationwide wanted extra capacity on the existing bridge, 6 per cent did not want a new harbour crossing or extra capacity, and 17 per cent were not sure or did not have an opinion.
The option of a new road bridge was not provided.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters who rely on the harbour bridge to travel to work or get around the city have had to endure two weeks of lane closures and long journeys. On Tuesday, high winds forced the bridge to close for an hour in the morning peak causing congestion mayhem.
Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has completed a temporary fix of the damaged strut to allow three lanes to reopen in both directions, but the bridge remains vulnerable to strong winds above 80km/h.
All going to plan, a new 22.7m strut that will become a permanent load-bearing fix for the 61-year-old bridge will be installed overnight on Saturday. If the weather is dodgy, the work will happen on the next available fine night.
The damage and commuter chaos to one of Auckland's transport lifelines has brought a promise from National Party leader Judith Collins to speed up work on a new harbour crossing for construction to start in 2028.
National's plan is for an uncosted double-decker tunnel with road and rail on separate levels, likely running from Esmonde Rd on the North Shore to under the CBD to connect to rail at Britomart. The road link would join with State Highway 1 at both ends of the tunnel.
The Greens are promising a new harbour crossing in the form of a light rail via a bridge costing $4.7 billion or a tunnel costing $7.2b with construction expected to start before 2030.
The Greens say the Northern Busway would be converted to light rail and continue on to light rail lines to the airport and West Auckland.
Labour does not have a fixed position on what form a new crossing should take, but appears to be adopting Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's current plans for a tunnel with rail.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the party will continue to work on a new harbour crossing and continue developing the Northern Busway which carries about half of the North Shore people heading into the city in the morning.
"Waka Kotahi believes the next harbour crossing will be a tunnel, including rapid transit, likely to be rail.
"There is ongoing work on whether extra road capacity is needed and these options will be resolved once the business case is completed," Twyford said.
The online survey of 1000 eligible voters in the ConsumerLink panel was taken from September 23 to 26, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.