The NZTA have recently published information on the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing on their website, including all of their technical reports, which are mostly from around 2010. These reports have been available elsewhere, however most people wouldn’t know they existed so it is good that NZTA have pulled them all together on the main NZTA site.

New to me are the timeframes for the project, which the NZTA have indicated are:

2015The Transport Minister asked the Transport Agency to take immediate steps to further develop the project. The Transport Agency will engage professional advisers to help prepare to help future proof the route.
Mid 2016NZ Transport Agency to serve Notices of Requirement for land required.
2017 to 2018Detailed business case investigations including funding options and design. Application and hearings for resource consents.
2019 to 2022Procurement stage including contract award, detailed design, land acquisition and preparation for works.
2022Estimated start of construction.
2027 to 2030Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing opens.

This is a much more aggressive timeline than the NZTA indicated at their recent briefing on the National Land Transport Programme, where it was suggested that the tunnel was unlikely to progress beyond the designation point for at least a decade.

The project website claims that the Auckland Plan identifies the AWHC will be required between 2025 and 2030 however, as we covered in this post, there isn’t any rational justification for this based on the Preliminary Business Case, which calculated a BCR of just 0.4.

NZTA route map

The project website mentions the “bigger picture”, emphasising that more than “55% of NZ’s freight travels through the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions”. As Matt covered in this post though, there really is only a tiny proportion of freight originating from Northland that is destined for points south, and vice-versa. It is quite misleading to include Northland in this statistic and it is certainly no justification for the AWHC . In any case, the website doesn’t mention the Western Ring Route, which is a continuous motorway linking Manukau and Albany and is due to be completed in phases in the next few years.

I haven’t reviewed all of the technical documents, but there are a couple of things about the transport modelling report that stand out. The emphasis in the snippet below is contained in the report – it isn’t mine:

Traffic Model Report 8.4

The transport model also has this table of car parking costs as an input assumption for the BCR, on p.42 of the report:

AWHC Carparking Cost Assumptions

I asked the NZTA what the highlighted text meant, and if the parking costs were daily or hourly rates, and they had this to say:

  • The Transport and Traffic Model Report (2010) analysis used costs that are 50th percentile costs which was appropriate for that stage of the investigation.
  • This report was one of the outputs of the Preliminary Business Case which was developed to assess the bridge and tunnel options. The focus was a fair “like for like comparison” between these two options, and as such the BCRs were tailored to the level of assessment appropriate to the decisions that were required to be made at that stage.
  • Currently, no further benefit cost analysis has been completed since 2010. Several years have passed since the benefit cost analysis was completed and we anticipate the BCR will be higher now.
  • Should a designation be secured for the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing, the Transport Agency will move forward with a Detailed Business Case in approximately 2017-2018. This will include further investigation to evaluate the preferred option and a detailed analysis of current costs and benefits.
  • The parking costs referred to in the report reflect average daily costs and were accurate at the time the modelling was undertaken.

So it looks like the mysterious Appendix M doesn’t actually exist, and any further analysis of costs and benefits won’t take place until the six lane tunnel for general traffic has been designated. The BCR of a rail only crossing to the North Shore, which will be billions of dollars cheaper than a road crossing primarily for single occupant cars, has not been calculated. The modelled costs of parking for the CBD seem woefully underestimated, compared to current earlybird rates of $24 a day.

This is completely the wrong way to go about a project which the Minister of Transport estimates will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion. Public consultation has been pretty much non-existent. I doubt many North Shore residents realise that if the new crossing is tolled, it is likely to be a toll on both the existing bridge and the new crossing.

There has been a complete lack of analysis of the impact of the fire-hose of single occupant cars which will flood the CBD as a result of the project, and neither has the full cost of increasing the capacity of the CMJ and approaches been considered. The NZTA already have in the scope of the designation work widening the motorway from Esmonde to Northcote, but it is likely that the motorway will have to be widened further north as well. The space required for this motorway widening work will undoubtedly take precedence over any future design for mass rapid transit.

Luke did a post last year on the environmental impacts of the toll road tunnel, including ventilation stacks for exhaust fumes that will be up to 35m (10 storeys) high on both sides of the crossing and the massive amounts of reclamation required. I’m not sure why the residents of Northcote Point haven’t formed an action group yet over the impending loss of Sulphur Beach and the marina. They seem oblivious to their neighbourhood becoming a construction site for at least five years too.

And of course the fact that the tunnels might be “future-proofed” for rail means nothing in practice. The designation process should not be going ahead without a clear understanding of what the mass transit network will look like on the North Shore.

There is no urgency for the crossing either – actual traffic volumes are well below the trend envisaged in the 2010 reports:

AHB Annual Volumes to 2014 - 2

I wrote to Auckland City Councillors and asked them to stand up for what Aucklanders actually want, rather than simply acquiesce to this ill thought-out plan. The only response I got was from Cllr George Wood, who said that “I must say that Simon Bridges is committed to the AWHC” and “people north of the Waitemata want the additional crossing. We certainly don’t want wish it to be stalled.”

Does George speak for everyone on the North Shore? Does Simon Bridges? What do you think?

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  1. Funny that Simon “Bridges” wants to build a tunnel.

    If you just put a few Northcote NIMBYS on both ends it’ll never be built.

  2. Surely we should plan this properly. At the very least users should know sooner rather than later what the toll is likely to be. I imagine this information alone will help focus on the actual need for this project.

  3. Wow this project is a monumental waste of money. Keep up the pressure, NZTA will crack over this eventually.

  4. Also note a research report which was recently commissioned by the NZTA, which used an alternative methodology to evaluate the benefits of the AWHC ( It found that the benefits were broadly in line with what had been estimated earlier, i.e. pretty low. The research was presented at the NZAE Conference this year and Peter or I will do a writeup on it at some point.

    Frankly, the fact that the NZTA are talking about this project with a completion date of 10-12 years away is disgraceful. I expect it’s due to political pressure from a few people in the National party, but the fact that they’re caving to it is pretty poor.

    1. They are probably counting on some other group to kill it, preferably AKL Council, which would score big political points for them.

    2. I’ve thought about this a bit more and I may be laying blame in the wrong place. It’s the Auckland Council who put it in the Auckland Plan in 2012, and said it would probably be needed by 2030. Anyway, the thing that all these public servants need to realise now – council, AT, NZTA, MoT and the elected people in central and local govt – is that a road crossing is *not* needed by 2030, and quite possibly never.

      A rail-only crossing is a different proposition and may look much better, with 2030ish an appropriate sort of end point. This needs to be investigated. We’ve shown a second harbour crossing for rail in our 2030 CFN map:

  5. Auckland, the whole nation in fact, is sleep walking to disaster with this project. It is all backwards. It breaks every rule of good governance and planning. The minister and NZTA have decided on a answer and are scrabbling around to find how they can pretend there is a question that might just be able to make it fit.

    Almost all freight is Auckland south, what a clumsy attempt to tilt the playing field to pretend that a new route north will serve that. We are currently spending $4billion on a bypass of the current un-jammed bridge, it is clearly unwise to analyse traffic demand until this project is open, even if it were the only route north. Anyway even if there was much freight traffic between, say, Whangarei and Tauranga, driving it through the centre of Auckland is clearly not the cleverest nor only way to shift it:

    ‘A $5million crane for loading containers on to ships at Northport will take cargo trucks off the road south of Marsden Pt, says the port boss.’

    What is needed is a full scale proper analysis of the likely need and opportunities from a blank sheet of paper. This designation is wrong and overly hasty. Furthermore the people and the Council need to be able to engage with a full set of options; this is just too important and expensive to be left up to the whim of one Tauranga resident and a bunch NZTA box tickers.

  6. *** This comment has been edited for violating our user guidelines:, specifically rule #4 ***

    … I have to agree that this extra link and where it starts and ends makes little sense based on daily experience and commonsense. The shore needs rail. The bridge is not the point of congestion – travelling this route at all times of the day it is obvious the feeder roads (motorways) either end are the bottlenecks – especially spaghetti junction. If a new link was used (solely) for rail, the volumes of vehicles would reduce (as more people used the rail – and less requirement for busses to cross too) therefore possibly extending the years that the current roading infrastructure and bridge can remain reasonable efficient for.

  7. George Wood is only enthusiastic about the project because his constituents will have to pay for it as taxpayers rather than ratepayers. If the council had to stump up even half the cost I think his viewpoint would be very different.

    1. I think that’s exactly right, but I wish George would realise this project will make Auckland much worse off, compared to spending $4-$6 billion on mass rapid transit instead.

    2. But ratepayers should not fund any crossing; regardless of mode. George is sadly just an old man struggling to come to grips with a fast moving world. His views were formed a long time ago and have settled like sediment on the sea floor; undisturbed by logic or new information.

      1. Crikey, my post got edited for saying ‘anti-car’ and yet yours has a personal attack on someone in it, and that’s OK??? The personal attacks on people do no-one credit.

        1. no, your post got edited for saying (again) that this “blog was anti-car”. Big difference.

          Stop whining.

    3. If another harbour crossing is built will NZTA try to offload the current harbour bridge to the council?

      Will that in effect have the users paying three times: taxes, tolls and rates for the current crossing maintenance?

  8. The NZTA confirmed to us recently that the AWHC would also require significant widening of the northern motorway at least as far as Constellation Dr. It wouldn’t be full duplication but not far off it

    1. And no doubt the first casualty in this war of attrition of widening motorways will be The current Busway right?

      Overlooking the fact, that without the Busway they’ll never be able to get enough cars of the roads to widen it.

    2. I think the easiest option here (asuming we want to go ahead with this stupid project) is to extend the rail underground to Albany or atleast Constellation and removing the busway altogether, also creating extra room for the motorway widening. Much as I deplore this project if its the price we have to pay to get rail to the north Shore it might be worth it, especially if the rail will go to Albany. The only issue is the massive cost increase, which will generate pressure to drop the rail altogether (for what its worth I think rail to Albany will be much cheaper than the $10bn suggested earlier as i think it can built as a cut and cover tunnel under the existing busway. The only big downside is having no busway and rail temporarily while this cut and cover tunnel is built)

      1. They could just leave the busway in place and open it up as a T3+bus lane (along with the rail underneath as you suggest) if they were going to do this. However beside most of the motorway there is enough room to add a lane in each direction no problem and the busway is for the most part designed for rail (and it would be a lot cheaper than tunnelling the whole way).

        1. the Busway was designed to accommodate HOV2s, without them the B/C under the rules at the time did not stack up. possibly the only example of planning for cars aiding a PT project

        2. No need to underground the busway for rail. Crazy cost. Just convert it, and if the lighter forms of rail are used then it can be done fairly cheaply and quickly. And keep the whole route separate from crossings and run it with cheap to run driverless Metro for extreme cost efficiency and high frequency. Start planning it now; why wouldn’t any truly future focused transport minister be doing this? Instead we have a command to double down on last century’s dumb mode; low capacity human operated dangerous single occupant fossil fuel guzzling fume belchers.

          Double-down on dumb-tech.

          Instead we should do what they’re doing in Sydney:

          Or perhaps Aussies are smarter than us?

        3. Except the Sydney metro is probably the worst example you could have used. It is eye wateringly expensive (for no real reason despite Sydney having some of the easiest earth to tunnel through (sandstone).

      2. The easiest option is to run light metro rail on the existing bridge and then along the busway.

        That should save over $3billion of the 4 billion (+ OVER RUNS!).

        There’s a post or two on here about it..

    3. Widening the motorway to Constellation sounds very expensive, although feasible. But what good does that do when the other side of the harbour is exactly the same as it is today? The real question is how do they propose to widen through Spaghetti Junction and down the Southern Motorway? That would be insanely expensive to the point of being infeasible.

      Does this six billion dollar tunnel require a second six billion dollar tunnel just to make it work?

      1. I think that the concept is for the current bridge to take traffic for the Auckland CBD and for the tunnel to take the traffic for further south through Spaghetti Junction

        1. Yes precisely, nothing through spaghetti junction to the other motorways. So where exactly is six lanes of extra motorway traffic supposed to go, Fanshawe Street, up Curran St to Ponsonby?

        2. Yep, and remind me again NZTA and Minister Bridges, exactly how does doing that help with enhancing “resilience” – especially when you have two 6 lane motorways which are dis-jointed from each other by design so that you can’t easily route traffic from one to the other?

          Countries round the world spend billions linking up motorways (as we’re doing with SH18/SH1 to the north), and yet we want to build two completely isolated motorways under the pretext of “resilience”?

          Yeah, Nah.

      2. The more serious issue is the lack of planning for the Gaunt Street to existing rail connection bit of the route. We must fight to ensure this gets in the project, and the rail link remains

  9. Coming over the bridge at 8am today the only congestion was to get through the aisle of the bus.

    Would love for someone to figure the lrt network we could get for $5b………..

      1. Sorry, was aware of those, was more meaning someone at AT or a consultancy (Matt is the latter right?) actually do and publish a full proposal. I think from back of envelope (rear of journal) calculations that we could well get to Orewa, taka line, and a route to Albany up Gfield Rd and Albany Highway.

        1. Do as the motorway planners do. Build a case for the main, high volume, spine. Rail from Aotea Station to Albany. Allow for bus – train connections along the way. Doing this allows the existing NEX patronage, and models based on this, to be used in BCR calculations.

        2. Got my salesman hat on here. $5b for this motorway or this rail network? Win that argument first then talk about staging.

        3. Salesman hat? Ok, 20 minute trip from Albany bus – rail Interchange to Aotea CRL Station with 10 minute frequencies. Regardless of weather and traffic conditions.

        4. With all due respect your audience doesn’t care. They see $5b in investment as better than $2b regardless of how effective. Need to ask how that $5b could be better spent first.

        5. I must say I like this suggestion, Sailor Boy: Rather than compare a $ 5bn (and the rest) road tunnel with a $ 2 bn LRT tunnel, compare it with a $ 5 bn LRT tunnel plus [long list of compelling and attractive other transport works].

  10. How much road widening is planned on the southern side to take on this flow of traffic in the morning? Or does this just become two long queues instead of one?

    I live on the North Shore, now is the time to plan a rail corridor. Bus capacity is a joke.

    1. At the very least what is needed is the kind of start-from-scratch, all modes, all options, study that was done to check that the CRL was the best solution for Centre City access.

      You don’t spend this sort of money without a great deal more than a sniff test and ministerial preference. This is the reverse of fiscal prudence.

    2. They did cost the rail only option for the crossing. 1/3 the price of the motorway tunnel. It’s in the documents.

    1. It would be nice to keep Alice around for the CRL and this instead of dismantling it, but I have heard it’s not the right size. Can anyone confirm that? There must be a lot of money tied up in one of those.

      1. They are designed for their specific job and it is reported that they are essentially worn out by the time they are finished. The German TBM manufacturers will buy back any remaining functional parts.

        1. You’d have to buy one that can tunnel 10-12 km in its life time (over the current design of 5-6km for 2 CRL tunnels at 2.3km each).

          Do-able I guess, some questions are:
          1. Is the rock/geo-tech similar to allow the same type of TBM to be used for both tunnels? if not you’re not saving any money

          2. Whats the likely cost increment to the CRL TBM for adding this (probably $100-$200m more I’d guess) if its do-able

          3. Why stop the tunnel at Aotea station why not keep the rail tunnel for the shore going under the Queen St valley, to the Uni and perhaps end it in the Hospital vincinity, thus linking major sites that generate lots of PT demand to the CRL and the shore in one hit.

        2. “3. Why stop the tunnel at Aotea station why not keep the rail tunnel for the shore going under the Queen St valley, to the Uni and perhaps end it in the Hospital vincinity, thus linking major sites that generate lots of PT demand to the CRL and the shore in one hit.”

          Indeed, why not? Honestly the range of options you can dream up _and actually deliver!_ with rail, that are simply inconceivable with roads.. and think how many cars this kind of thinking would take off the roads we have.

  11. This is bordering on corruption – minister asking NZTA to prepare a business case to suit his agenda. Is the NZTA meant to be independent of the government? Is there a monitoring body?
    Assuming it is going to be tolled to pay it for itself, it will never be built – so obviously the government aren’t going to toll it, or if they do it will not cover the full costs.

      1. Agree entirely. The actual story here is that the NZTA – supposedly independent public servants – are subverting good, objective analysis, in favour of simply pleasing the minister. Unacceptable. If you’re gonna have process – follow it!

        Can it be brought to attention of Auditor General?

  12. it’s a touch ironic but I can’t help but point out that Amsterdam will very soon be opening its North-South metro line. This connects Amsterdam north (which is a similar size to Auckland’s North Shore) to not just the inner city of Amsterdam, but a really dense swathe of rapidly intensifying inner-city suburbs, all the way to Zuidas – which is a intensive commercial centre on the way to the airport (aka Onehunga?).

    Amsterdam’s new metro route map is here: where the blue line is under construction. I think the North-South metro line cost ~$5 billion EUR, which is quite expensive – but then again 1) it’s a long way and 2) tunnelling conditions here (sand/silt) are atrocious compared to what we’ll likely find under the Waitemata. So all up it seems that Amsterdam is getting much more bang for its buck.

    However, the main thing that strikes me is the difference in strategic vision for the two cities: Whereas Amsterdam is prepared to plan and build what will be a relatively transformational new metro line, NZTA in Auckland are pushing to provide more of the same: More highway capacity running parallel to an existing highway. An investment which does not address bottlenecks either side, and largely serves to simply undermines PT.

    It’s a shame the Government doesn’t realise that the majority of Aucklanders would (I think) much prefer we built a metro line rather than another highway!

    1. We don’t have to look as far as Amsterdam for logic and sense in urban transport. Sydney, which of course already has rail across the bridge [got that right first time] is now adding more rail lines in tunnels across their harbour and a new line [underconstruction] through their North Shore. Modern driverless Metro:

      We have 13 low capacity general traffic lanes across the harbour over two bridges. Sydney built both general traffic lanes and rail lines and tram lines [since converted to full time buslanes] in their first crossing, then added 4 traffic lanes in tunnels and are now adding more rail lines. This is logical, AKl is smaller, obviously we need less capacity than SYD in total but will still need the same mix, as does every city because it is the most efficient and cost effective combination. Currently we have no high capacity rapid transit across this important gap. Obviously this is what we need to add next.

      Adding more of what we already have and is a dull witted backward looking disaster borne of small-minded provincialism; a failure to grasp what successful cities need to function in a competitive world.

      1. Would be interesting to know since the Sydney harbour bridge was built what the passenger numbers are by mode, given it had rail from day 1.

        1. Many many more people cross on those big double-decker trains everyday than in private vehicles on the bridge. Then there are the buses. Each individual in their own tin box is a much lower capacity system than buses or especially trains for space required. Roads are very useful for carting stuff however, but that use is much more efficient when people movement is undertaken on parallel fast and efficient modes.

      1. From what I know Groningen has a population of only ~200,000, so is a much smaller scale to anything like Amsterdam and Auckland.

    2. Its been coming soon for a long time now! 2017 is the current date as far as I know. I’m currently in Noord and see the stations, but I don’t think about it too much…

      I currently get the 51 from centraal – I can’t find any details on how much faster the 52 would be to Zuid – ie is it worth the transfer time from it to the 51 for the rest of the trip for poor sods like me working in Amstelveen? The 51 metro cars are ancient, but it’s quick and reliable – always better than the bus.

  13. Funny how government is champing at the bit to do this one but just hemming and hawing on CRL and trying to avoid the subject altogether. Wonder why that is?

  14. “The Transport Agency will engage professional advisers to help prepare to help future proof the route.

    This statement demonstrates that by their own admission, NZTA are either incompetent and/or have been given a hopeless task.

  15. As a Northcote point resident I am all for the AWHC. Adds resilience and it is all about the future, not the needs today. With cheap fuel – Crude tipped to fall to $30.00 a barrel – more people will choose to drive in Auckland. The Government needs to respond to this now.

    Does make Skypath pointless as the AWHC will create a cycling and pedestrian option on the existing bridge with zero cost to rate payers.

    1. What resilience? What event would disable the bridge, but leave the adjacent tunnel unscathed?

      Do you truly think that oil is going to remain that cheap? And regardless, the issue over the longer term is going to be congestion rather than fuel cost as electric vehicles eventually become the norm. The same factors drawing North Shore commuters out of their cars and onto the buses will remain. Having a quick bus journey versus sitting on the congested approach lanes to the harbour crossing is a no-brainer. And the AWHC won’t solve the approach road congestion. There is nowhere new to go south of the harbour. It is either congested spaghetti junction or congested CBD

        1. This was covered in the previous post about the business case. Page 18 covers the clip-on lanes:

          The NZTA has an active management regime in place for the AHB which is focused on managing the main structure and extension bridges so that they will continue to provide the connectivity needed to cater for all vehicles crossing the harbour. As a result of the current strengthening work on the extension bridges (which will be completed in 2010) combined with active management, the NZTA expects to maintain the extension bridges indefinitely.

        2. That was also given in written and verbal evidence by NZTA to the Skypath hearing comissioners as well – so its official, the clip-ons are not passed their use by date according to NZTA.

          But you know, what the f**k would they know?

        3. They do herald surveys all the time, the third harbour motorway just isn’t that popular:

          “The $2.86 billion underground rail proposal was considered the most important ingredient by 33.9 per cent of those polled, and buses running every 10 minutes at peak times by 20.7 per cent.

          Completing the city’s motorway network and building more roads where necessary won top priority from 20.7 per cent and another harbour crossing from 16.2 per cent.”

      1. The existing bridge is metal and has already shown proof of fatigue. There are many reasons why something could happen to the bridge but not a tunnel, they vary from being worn out to a terrorist attack. All may seem unlikely but the NZ economy would be destroyed if we lost the capacity of the harbour bridge crossing.
        Oil is tipped to fall to $30.00 a barrel and it is hard not to see it trading in a $30-$50 range for many years to come. The world has an over supply of oil and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. EV’s do not change oil demand – as at $30/bbl is economically prudent to create power generation through fossil fuel generators – it just shifts the pollution point from the roads to the power plant.
        I am in favour of an AWHC that includes rail and road, that is the correct solution Aucklanders need and should demand. Building one without the other is mindlessly stupid.

        1. Don’t be disingenuous Patrick, you are better than that. This is an opportunity to have our transport cake and eat it too. Auckland must be about the only city in the world that has only one bridge between its CBD and adjacent population area. Sydney has more than one bridge and tunnels. New York, San Francisco, Paris etc etc all have multiple crossing points. If Transportblog designed London there would be London Bridge as the single road crossing and then the underground – can you imagine how screwed up that would make London. Dont even try to pretend Auckland has a second bridge in Greenhithe. Yes that links Albanies factories to the cheap labour in Westyland and it will be a good bypass for North-South freight, but the AWHC is about Devonport, Takapuna, Glenfield, Birkenhead and Northcote – significant population areas that need a second option across the harbour.
          Perhaps as you come from Howick you have little empathy for what the people of the North Shore want? A road and rail tunnel to the shore will be a positive action for Auckland and well worth the money it costs and the chimney stack (I won’t see) and the building works I will put up with.

        2. Local Resident, this level of spending is simply unsustainable for a country of this size. $4B – $6B for the crossing and then more to widen the Northern motorway. $0.5B for a single interchange at Constellation, $380M for Penlink, another $100M + to widen the mwy from Silverdale to Albany (it’s part of the Penlink draft business case) all just to have much slower journey times in 20 years (AT / NZTA traffic models). It’s bloody madness.

        3. Nope. More road lanes between Northcote and the city is a total disaster even if they were free. Which poor old George thinks it is. A firehouse of traffic at both the city and the already maxed out CMJ is just plain stupid. Also a disaster for North Shore local roads. NZTA are clear that they expect the project by itself to induce 35 million additional car journeys, journeys that otherwise would not happen. It is a machine for generating congestion all around it.

          Am pretty confident it won’t happen, certainly will be continuing our work to ensure that. Think of us all working so hard to improve the value of your little pied a terre, for a second time; after the value lift it will get from SkyPath!

        4. Sanfrancisco only has the Bay Bridge (and the BART train tunnels) linking it to its major suburbs to the east. There isn’t another crossing for 30km North or 35km South.

          Not sure why Auckland needs three motorway crossings in 20km.

          “he cheap labour in Westyland and it will be a good bypass for North-South freight, but the AWHC is about Devonport, Takapuna, Glenfield, Birkenhead and Northcote – significant population areas that need a second option across the harbour”

          If by significant you mean 8% of the Auckland population, perhaps. Deserving of a second duplicate motorway with a six billion dollar price tag, no.

        5. NZ debt is about 100 billion and 38.2% of our GDP. Even if this project costs 10b it wont make a huge difference to our economy. There is no doubt that people will continue to drive cars and commercial vehicles between the Northern and southern sides of the harbour. Building the AWHC now will be cheaper than the future so lets just crack on and do it.
          To give an example of our our debt to GDP ratio one should also consider the countries this blog loves to quote: Denmark is 45.2% and the Nederlands is 68.8%.
          Clearly we can afford a road and rail tunnel and as this is a national project coming out of taxation and tolls it is a much more financial prudent project than the CRL which is being funded by rates increases and the cancelling of essential local govt services.
          You guys cant come up with a credible argument against the AWHC and your prime objection is you just do not like the motor car. The people of NZ voted in favour of RONS and projects like the AWHC and will again. You are out of touch with what New Zealanders want. If you do not believe me, get your friends in the Herald to conduct a nationwide poll.

        6. So we have plenty of Government debt capacity no doubt. That doesn’t mean we should spend it.

          “You are out of touch with what New Zealanders want. If you do not believe me, get your friends in the Herald to conduct a nationwide poll.”

          Nationwide? Given the Herald’s love of leading questions how do you think this would go for you?

          ‘Do you support $6b of your hard earned tax money going towards building a duplicate motorway for Aucklanders to get to the next traffic jam quicker?’

        7. The population in Sydney was about 3.5 million when the harbour tunnel was built. They made do with the bridge, including train lines, until then. Auckland has a long way to grow before it reaches that, including ripping up all the houses in Northcote and replacing it with something more like North Sydney.


          * Other Sydney Harbour bridges are only slightly closer to the Sydney CBD than the distance between the Auckland Harbour bridge and Greenhithe.
          * Bay Area population 7 million.
          * New York population: 20+ million in the metropolitan area

        1. Oh yes Stu but given global car sales are up and petrol consumption is through the roof it points scientifically to the fact that more people dream of driving a car than sitting on a train. Who wants to have to walk/cycle/bus from home to the train and then walk/cycle/bus from the train to the office when you can just hop in your comfortable air conditioned car – Tesla or Aston Martin – and drive from home direct to the office. Now that the ‘peak oil’ nonsense is over, people can afford to drive again and despite what Greenpeace tells you, Polar bears are excellent swimmers 🙂

        2. Car sales are still below bicycle sales in New Zealand, so ‘scientifically’ people must want to ride bikes more than drive, right?

          Oh and FYI, saying some factoid “scientifically” points to the “fact” more people *dream* about something isn’t doing wonders for your credibility. Are you actually familiar with the scientific method?

    2. Skypath will provide a useful option for users while (if) the alternative crossing is being planned/built, that’s at least 10-15 years of useful service

  16. Are used the harbour bridge daily for 2 years during 2013 and 2014. I’ve now moved jobs. During that time the harbour bridge was never the problem on my daily commute and it was the approach roads that are congested.
    The freight justification is grasping at straws & completely ignores the multiple billions of dollars we are currently spending on the western ring route.
    Hopefully the formal business case will shed some light on to this crazy project.

    1. I suspect that this has Ministerial direction. And it is also unlikely that a project this expensive has not been to Cabinet.

      Anyone want to draft an OIA request asking for Ministerial correspondence with NZTA and the MoT over this project, and for all Cabinet papers regarding this project?

      1. I am sure this has been to Cabinet and certainly Maggie Barry has been promoting it as a cue all for car travel problems for the lower North Shore. She has a ‘thing’ about the difficulty of car access from Devonport up to Esmonde Road so heaven knows what she would propose for Lake Road. Don’t think I would like to own a property on Lake Road – suspect you would likely lose half of it, if she had her way. After all, some properties near Esmonde Road have already been taken or reduced in size.

  17. I agree this is a stupid project (and agree with this post ) or atleast the road aspect of the tunnel is. The rail aspect however is a great project. So we have a really stupid and awful project tied in with a good one. The obvious thing to do would be to build the rail tunnel only and dump the road tunnel. Sadly there is a real danger of the reverse, especially as the link from the Gaunt street station to the exisiting rail network has zero planning done to it. However we might have to swallow the road tunnel as the poison pill to get the rail tunnel. So I suggest that the following policy be implemented: A referendum in the North Shore on two options. Option 1) A rail only tunnel from takapuna to the city. 2) A road and rail tunnel, with a $2bn loan to be paid for from tolls and/or a special North Shore ratepayers levy. Also allowing much more urban development and intensification on the North Shore. Interesting to see what the results will be.

    1. Also worth looking at is what happens to traffic vollumes after Waterview is opened, and also the alternative of enhancing the western ring route from building a road (need not be full motorway but certainly high speed) from the current end of the Northwest motorway to the Northern Motorway at Dairy Flat near Wilkes Road via Coatesville. This new road will be quicker than the existing SH18 route and enhance the somewhat circutious Western Ring Route for traffic wishing to bypass Auckland

  18. The only upside I can see is that the old bridge will then be suitable for light rail, bus corridors cycling and walking. PT get the left overs it seems.

  19. We already have two motorways going north across this harbour.

    This isn’t the “Additional” Waitemata Harbour crossing. This is the “Third” Waitemata Harbour crossing. Let’s start calling it that, consistently.

    That this is being railroaded before the Western Ring Route is completed, let alone evaluated, suggests that there is massive drive to build this from some senior members of the NZTA and Government.

  20. This project is crazy.

    I live out south and drive to work on the north shore for 5 years. Never really had a problem with the bridge. It is the approach that is the problem.

    1. I’ve made the comment several times about the approaches being the problem, but they are the problem because they have more capacity than the bridge. In that respect the bridge *is* the problem. But it’s that reduction in capacity, the bottleneck, that makes the bridge flow when approach traffic is at a dead stop. Those approaches meter traffic to match bridge capacity. The only way to make the approaches less of a “problem” is to narrow them to the capacity of the bridge. But when you do that, the capacity constraint just moves backwards.

      Those new connections to the motorway to and from the new tunnel are going to be even worse. Car traffic will flow well while in the tunnel* but will be clogged at either approach end. Even if the measured capacity is the same, the transition from the surface road to the bridge gives the impression of constraint so people slow down, consciously or unconsciously.

      So the approaches are and are not the problem. The problem is, whatever you build, it will have approaches. Perhaps something can be engineered to make them work better, but there is ALWAYS some spot where capacity is reduced and congestion results. Can’t build that out of the system.

      *Better than being stuck inside the tunnel. Anyone with claustrophobia would go totally ape in that situation.

  21. This seems a bit premature. They should wait to see the effect of:

    – Western Ring Route
    – Changes to PT patronage as a result of the Bus network changes which should be fully implemented within 2 years.

    I also think there is more potential with coastal shipping but the weird ownership of Port Whangarei is probably holding that back (you only have to look at the changes in Timaru following POT ownership).

  22. No mention of how many dollars will have to be spent increasing the capacity of the southern motorway…..and/or what sort of visually litigious encouraging eye-sore will have to be designed and built through Mt Eden, Remuera, Newmarket, Greenlane, Ellerslie to cope with the extra traffic induced by the new tunnel…..

  23. I think the best arguement aganist this is explaining the opportunity cost. When I explained to a NS person for 6b we could have NS rail, Southwest Rail (Airport) Puke elect extension, with two extra stations and a decent down payment on ES rail it put things in perspective. Also can someone do a post on potential NW rail as it has only been alluded to I believe.

  24. I feel that this needs wider promulgation.
    “2015 The Transport Minister asked the Transport Agency to take immediate steps to further develop the project. The Transport Agency will engage professional advisers to help prepare to help future proof the route.”
    OIA query on the background to the ministers question would seem to be important as it seems from the information provided he asked for the info and has tasked them with acting. It does seem as though it is entirely his doing.
    NZTA grew out of the National Roads Board? Has the NZTA brief changed to cover all types of transport? (they don;t seem to be acting in considering all aspects of transport.
    CBA analysis of 2010 seems terribly outdated in the light of recent changes (ie the changed bridge vehicle count)
    How should these concerns be expressed? Who should they be directed to?

  25. The time to start worrying about this is when (IF) National gets re-elected in 2017. There’s not too much damage they can do before then, as regards locking this project in.

    Of much more immediate concern is the money about to be wasted on the likes of Transmission Gully which is also a wrong ‘answer’ to a largely emotionally-defined ‘problem’. This urgently needs reassessing but unlike the Basin Flyover scrutiny, this looks set to go unchallenged.

    I wonder where Labour sits in regard to the AWHC? Probably snoring in a corner somewhere.

      1. Yes, unfortunately. Contracts have been signed.

        It also has the emotional support of large numbers of Wellingtonians who think of it as ‘necessary’. The Greens put up opposition but were basically ignored, and Labour aren’t going to risk the political capital they’d need to spend.

        1. Well like Think Big, this turkey will be sheeted home in due course to the National Government of 2008 to 2017, no matter how many years pass, it will be difficult to nail any future government with being at fault for this.

          The stupid thing is that it will be a more costly white elephant than many of the Think Big projects were in their day – even allowing for inflation (both $s and egos).

        2. Yes. Construction will start this year and be 40% complete by the time the 2017 election comes, so basically too late to stop it. Much of the money will have already been spent, and being a Wellingtonian know there will be a huge public backlash to its cancellation

  26. The bottom line is if there is a $2-3 billion crossing that can be done so the $4-6 billion isn’t needed for another 20-30 years then that option is a no brainer. The terrible impression here is that smaller, cheaper, and higher capacity rail crossing up the busway is not being investigated because it is already obvious that it would be the wiser option.

    It really is time for the Treasury Infrastructure dept to do some math, and MoT. With any mode bias set aside of course.

  27. George Wood certainly doesn’t speak for everyone on the shore but probably does speak for a large number. the problem is not that an additional/third harbour crossing is needed; but that many on the shore think they need/want it.
    I was one of them until I discovered this site. After reading your earlier analysis I quickly changed my mind from thinking a third road crossing would be a good idea to a very bad idea.
    A lot of people think that a third road crossing is needed and is needed now, this is largely because this is the message they have been fed for decades. Unless there is some large scale re-education then George Wood will likely find plenty of support for his view at the next council election.

    1. I agree with Nigel. The problem is that belief in the “need” for another road crossing is entrenched by decades of reinforcement by politicians and the roading lobby to the extent that it’s like a religious belief which cannot be countered. George Wood is the most extreme example of this.

      Try to engage with him by pointing out that the bridge is not congested and that traffic volumes have been static for 10 years and all he does is recite the dogma that the additional crossing is necessary and will happen.

      1. “all he does is recite the dogma that the additional crossing is necessary and will happen.”

        He is kinda right – an additional crossing *is* necessary, and it *will* happen – it just won’t be a tunnel for cars, nope it will be a underground rail tunnel..

    1. I agree. I would be much less opposed to this project if it came with massive intensification on the North Shore. We should almost develop a second Unitary Plan, one with lots of extra zoning for high density housing on North Shore if this project goes ahead

  28. Nigel’s comments are spot on. Most people do not think deeply about the issue. They want instant gratification of their perceived car travel woes without thinking of the cost and the detrimental effect on the livability of Auckland with such things as 10 lane wide motorways etc., which is why I am so appreciative of the efforts of the authors of this Blog in pursuing a properly evidence based response to current Government and NZTA policies.

  29. As a commuter from the shore the bridge is the least congested part of the trip. a second crossing linking to the motorway is a waste of money. build a rail tunnel instead and link the north shore to the rail network.

  30. Hey Bridges. Stick a new motorway through the middle of where you live. Where’s that? Tauranga? Hopefully we’ll have this lot out before they start to do this damage.

    1. Already happening. Tauranga people love it. They proudly take visitors on tours of the new motorways, like Aucklanders did in the late 50s thinking they made the city city look modern.

  31. This crossing will destroy the livability of many parts of the Shore as double the volume of vehicles is pumped into suburban roads. In my suburb streets like Esmonde (which already can’t cope) Anzac and Killarney will become places to avoid.
    But for what reason? I look at the great cities of the world and for many of them their charm is that they have pedestrianised their town centres and arrival by public transport is regarded as the appropriate way to get there.
    No, no, no, no.

  32. Is it possible for some one to put some numbers into a formula so we could see what it would be like if an AWHC opened tomorrow? Then could start to look at effects.

  33. Nicholas O’Kane I think you better come over the North Shore and have a look at all urban development and intensification that has happened over the past 10 years and is happening right now before you make statements like this – /or a special North Shore ratepayers levy. Also allowing much more on the North Shore. Interesting to see what the results will be- The top end of the Shore is growing fast At the moment the are 800 appartment being built in Abany on Don Mckinnon Dr ,new urban development behind Long Bay ,In Browns Bay there are 5 appartments developments that have been here for years,and some new appartments finished last year , appartments being built now, and another lot due to start in the new year most have been sold of the plans all in Browns Bay ,New appartments being built on the ridge at Rothesay Bay ,if you look you can see that the Shore has taken to intensification and mixed development in all parts of the Shore . Get on a bus or ferry come over to the Shore and see for yourself we are just like the rest of Auckland packing in more and more dwellings on any small scrap of land .

    1. And there is nothing wrong with this development. It is how we deal with people movement that is the problem. The existing strategy of building more motorway lanes isn’t working. As the city develops, the need for mass transit becomes more pressing. This is a people movement problem, not a motor vehicle movement problem.

  34. The last thing Auckland needs is more motorway or wider motorways… CRL, North Shore Rail, Airport Rail and NW Busway should be the focus not some stupidly unnecessary additional road crossing to the Shore, when it already has two, both of which are motorways (SH1 and SH18).

    More stupid last century eyesores to ruin our city, just like the waterview interchange and soon to be extremely wide NW causeway, when are people going to stop fooling around and vote them out. They are destroying our city!

  35. Has the AWHC been looked at in reverse?
    Instead of building for cars and future proofing for rail couldn’t it be built for rail and future proofed for cars?

    Have the rail linked Aotea – Akoranga as a first stage and the car tunnels built but cut off at the same time.
    As Auckland grows from 2 to 3 million there will eventually come a time when the car tunnel would be useful, but that might be 2025, 35, 45 etc.

    The tunnel would be there waiting to be connected subject to a vehicle demand trigger, second stage.
    If it never tripped and rail and bus plus the bridge serviced the North Shore well it would at least be the mini ‘white elephant’ that built the rail line.

    1. The road and rail tunnels would most probably be completely separate tubes on parallel alignments. You could build one lot, or the other, or one then the other, or both at the same time.

      So yes, very easy to build the rail tunnel first then see if you need to build, and can justify the much greater expense of, the motorway tunnels.

      1. Can you clarify that a bit for me?

        I thought a large part of the cost of a car / rail tunnel is the bigger boring machine required? i.e. both would be done at the same time, rail under car in two separate tunnels like the illustration?

        My comment is asking how much could costs reduce if you build but mothball the car lanes and build rail? The opposite of what is being proposed.
        No ventilation required, no joining works at each end, but obviously rail costs for connection / extension.

        Reversing the idea and building tunnels for rail with vehicle ‘future proofing’ may not strictly be the best economic option but it might help gain political traction as well as push the better solution across first, rail.

        If rail tunnels can be built independently first then great, but politically how realistic is that?

        1. The combined tunnel pic is a PR vision only. It doesn’t make any real sense. NZTA are not planning any rail routes on the Shore or the City; it’s just PT-wash.

          By far the best thing to do is to separate the projects, build one first as the next won’t be needed for decades and decades. Sydney didn’t need to add a new route after the bridge till they got to a population of 3.5 million because of the high capacity rail lines on the first one.

          Rail tunnels will be much cheaper, the landside line up the busway should be very cheap, the city-side one will cost more, but I was assured by the CRL design team that Aotea Station is fully future proofed for the Shore line.

        2. Ok sure, you will find no complaints from me for a rail tunnel.

          I just don’t see that debate? Maybe as I’m not in Auckland.
          Seems to me from the outside that NZTA are pushing on pretty hard for a combined road first, rail second 2 tunnel project costed at $4-6b.
          Maybe $2b for rail and $4b for road if we could break it down.

          If rail can be separated (as a project) and put across first for $2b then great. But is that a political reality?
          Isn’t it more realistic to push for combined tunnels that first connect rail and then the roads at a later tbc date based on traffic demand?
          In the process probably allowing the costs to come down to $3-4b.

          i.e. massage their proposal into something more sensible rather than slapping them with the PT bible.

        3. The only debate is here. NZTA are pushing very hard for their road only tunnels, presumably under instruction from Cabinet. There is absolutely no public consultation or discussion. No democracy at all. No exploration of alternatives.

          But there’s is a house of cards as it just doesn’t stack up. No it is not realistic pushing for combined tunnels as there is no reality to that thought. The moment there is a value engineering study done the rail part evaporates. The road part should but more road lanes will be defined as the bottom line. So rail will be killed, under the guise of ‘future proofing’. Furthermore as adding the missing mode is clearly the next best step; add the fact that it’ll be cheaper, and generates none of the negative externalities of induced traffic, pollution, land waste and vast future road extensions, and is completely contrary to the city’s spatial plans pushes this situation into scandal.

        4. Be clear, the costs of $4-$6b are just for the motorway crossing, and not even including the motorway widening either side. They aren’t even planning to designate the rail crossing route, let alone build any of it.

  36. I wonder if the North Shore support for this crossing is because the alternative, now, is a “loser cruiser” (bus – as George Wood no doubt calls it). Presented with the alternative of a light rail/metro over the harbor, into the city and beyond, not to mention expanding across their region, might change that.

    And I agree with an earlier poster – this should from now on be referred to as the THIRD harbour crossing, to labour the point.

  37. You might call it a loser cruiser, but it does a very good job. In my case I can travel in half the time on the bus that it takes me to drive. It is becoming increasingly popular at a rate that is far in excess of population growth on the Shore.

    Could and should it be better? Yes it should. We should emerge into the 20th century and have a light metro system that links many significant parts of the Shore e.g it should be a preferred way of traveling to the Albany stadium and mall, Massey University and Wairau Park possibly.

    Will the rest of Auckland support the provision of more assets to an area that many (most) perceive as the spoiled child? -maybe not.

    1. I live in “the rest of Auckland” and firmly believe the Sho’ should have rail- like everyone else.

      Not via a money wasting 2-6$B extra crossing, simply via light metro up the existing bridge.

      Why waste billions building an extra crossing when the current one works well, will last forever if maintained, and can quickly and cheaply get the Sho’ hooked on rail?

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