As regular readers will know, we’re not exactly big fans of another road-based harbour crossing being a priority. We believe that after Skypath, the next crossing should be a rapid-transit-only crossing, providing those travelling to and from the North Shore with a complete and attractive alternative to the current bridge. It could be designed to leave space so that a future road crossing could be built if still needed.

Instead, the current most likely outcome is that we’ll spend $4-6 billion on a tunnel and massive interchanges at each end. And yet, because of changes they’ll make to how the existing bridge is used, it’s likely the extra crossing won’t even provide any additional capacity to the road network. About the best we’ll get is some bus lanes – AT and the NZTA have been suggesting that light rail could possibly go over the existing bridge, but my understanding based on conversations with various staff is that this is unlikely to be a realistic option.

So if we’re going to build a road crossing that doesn’t actually do much, perhaps it’s time to reconsider a cheaper bridge option. According to the last study by NZTA in 2010, a bridge option would be around $1.4 billion cheaper. That level of saving is nothing to be sneezed at, after all the entire cost of the Waterview tunnels project is $1.4 billion!

A bridge would also be considerably cheaper to operate and maintain – about $4m per year vs $20m per year (in 2010 $). Again $16m a year, every year, is significant. That’s roughly how much public subsidy is paid each year to top up fare revenue on the North Shore bus network.

The main reason for selecting a tunnel rather than a bridge was the result of public feedback around 5 years ago on the council’s Auckland Plan, and I’d say most of that feedback took place without considering the huge cost impact of their decision. One of the main reasons for this is the view it would obviously represent a dramatic visual change, which many people would be fearful of.

But would a bridge option be all that bad? Bridges all over the world can be some of the most stunning and iconic features of cities. Designed well they are more than just function.

Below are some of the renders from the NZTA study, so take a look for yourself. We were reminded of these when leafing through some of the obscure old reports so I wonder if most people even knew this was an option?

AWHC Bridge option 3

We quite like the design, the triangular cable towers are vaguely reminiscent of volcanic cones or perhaps sails on the harbour. In any case they have a monumental look. Cable stayed bridges are quite popular these days, as they are strong, stable and self-supporting during construction, which makes them fast and cheap to build. Of course there would be other types of bridges that could work: a grand suspension bridge like the famous Golden Gate, another steel arch bridge, a very simple concrete girder or maybe something wild and unusual.

AWHC Bridge option 1

Thinking about this, we think there are some other potential benefits of a second bridge, beyond the big construction cost saving and the cheaper operations and maintenance over time.

Firstly, it would be easy to provide road and rail on the same bridge, something that is difficult and expensive to do in a tunnel. We know that Auckland Transport are currently looking at rapid transit options to the North Shore. Given they are considering light rail across the isthmus and the airport, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that they would consider it here too? And why not, light rail only takes up as much room as a traffic lane each way, and it can handle almost any grade you would want on a motorway bridge. So for the minimal cost of adding two lanes for light rail to the six lanes of motorway you could literally double the people carrying capacity of the crossing. It would also tie in nicely with the current plans for the isthmus which would see light rail along Fanshawe St to Wynyard.

There is also the possibility that you don’t need to add much at all. The NZTA designs below show a box section holding up the road deck. With a little tweaking to the design it could probably be big enough to run a rail line through each way. A rail deck inside the bridge structure is pretty common in bridges around the world, perhaps a double deck bridge is an efficient solution for Auckland?


Secondly, a new bridge would give a nice and more direct walking and cycling link, as we can see in the picture below. While we agree the Skypath is an excellent value retrofit and should proceed asap, having separate walking and cycling links on a more direct alignment would be even better in the long term. We would obviously expect walking and cycling connections to be a little wider than shown in the image below though.

AWHC Bridge option 2

Thirdly, bridges avoid a lot of the problems that tunnels can have with things like vehicle fires, water leaks and dangerous goods spills. Melbourne has had a pair of under-river tunnels since the early 2000s and it has experienced all three kinds of incidents, with many lives lost in one bad fire down in the tunnel.

2nd Harbour Bridge top view

So, could a relatively cheap and efficient new bridge with a mix of traffic lanes, light rail, walking and cycling be the right answer for the North Shore? Such a crossing might come in under $3 billion, less than half some of the recent estimates for doing motorway and rail in tunnels. But there might be some further savings to be had too. In the renders below we can see that the bridge itself is a fairly slender and graceful structure. But the real impact, and much of the cost, of the harbour crossing plans come from the connections either side, including what amounts to a new Spaghetti Junction in St Mary’s Bay complete with three additional tunnels under Victoria Park and a similar tangle of ramps and reclamation at Northcote Point though to Akoranga.

2nd Harbour Bridge top view - VP

If the crazy plan to dump six lanes of bridge traffic onto Cook St was dropped, they could drop the duplicate Victoria Park tunnel and a mess of associated ramps and structures approaching it. The existing Victoria Park tunnel could be reconfigured into one lane each way to Cook St by adding a central fire wall, instead of building a second one next to it to get three lanes each way to the middle of town. This would improve connectivity to midtown while providing a reasonable, rather than insane, amount of vehicular capacity. Not only would this save the city from drowning in traffic that has nowhere to go from Cook St, it would also save a further half billion or so from the cost and reduce the amount of structures and reclamation on the waterfront.

A second advantage of new bridge with light rail would be the ability to drop the proposed busway additions on the old bridge. That sounds crazy coming from this blog, but you have to ask why you would need both a busway and railway next to each other when rail alone can do the job well. If you dig through the plans you can see NZTA have designed an elaborate series of busway lanes and flyovers either side of the harbour bridge, in addition to the rail designation (clearly they didn’t put much faith in rail ever actually happening). Dropping the busway links in favour of light rail only would likewise cut out a lot of concrete, and hundreds of millions of costs.

There are some further benefits of value engineering out the spurious ramps and links. With less linkages you need to reclaim less harbour and build fewer flyovers, but you’d also get to detune some of the worst bits we already have. Do the crossing right and St Marys Bay could be turned from eleven lanes of motorway into a six lane waterfront boulevard through to Fanshawe St and Cook St. It might have more in common with Tamaki Drive than Spaghetti Junction.

So what about it Auckland? Would we be happy with a new bridge if it meant traffic, rail and people could be accommodated together while saving billions of dollars and reducing the impacts on the waterfront areas? Is there a “lean and mean” road solution that could be funded and built earlier while also giving people the rapid transit crossing they want?

To finish we just have to ask, why was this option dropped so readily? Given the potential to save billions and get better outcomes shouldn’t we at least have a thorough discussion?

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  1. I was on the train in Sydney heading to the North Shore and as we came out of the tunnel and the view of the harbour opened up there was an audible gasp by a whole lot of passengers. I really don’t get why we wouldn’t want to take this opportunity to enhance the experience of the harbour. We have one ugly bridge; why not build a new elegant one in front of it? If we have to replace the bridge, or at least much of it, this ought still be an option, the tunnel project is an absurd waste of money, this at least could at least give the city an asset as well as enable the City and nation to do other valuable things with its investment funds; like a full Light Rail Network to the Shore.

    And I guess Aucklanders can see how much they like driving in three lane motorway tunnels next year when Waterview opens.

  2. I absolutely think it should be a bridge. Not just for cost but for safety it makes a lot more sense. I am a bit confused about all the lanes that were planned for the Harbour Crossing, so not sure which ones we should have should and shouldn’t have at either end, but in principle the bridge idea is MUCH, MUCH better.

    1. There are basically three lanes south through the CMJ, one peels off for the North Western and Grafton, but then is replaced by the Hobson st on ramp, then the Symonds St one is added… If there is to be a new crossing it would plug in directly to these. And the same north bound. What is currently the Vic park tunnel. This can feed a bridge west at an exit west of Wynyard and gain enough height for even the tallest yachts. Double stacked road/rail bridges are common around the world.

      And of course rail/pedestrian bridges are doable too, like the recent Tilikum bridge in Portland:

      1. I like that Portland idea, where the new bridge carries everything but cars and trucks!

        If we built something similar in Auckland, and left the existing bridge and on-ramps as they are, then is it possible that we might get a cheaper bridge, with perhaps no need for a new spaghetti junction around St Mary’s Bay while still enjoying the benefit of much-reduced traffic on the existing bridge?

        Maybe yes .. of course to get the benefit of reduced traffic, we would need to reduce auto-dependency north of the bridge by expanding the reach of frequent public transport services, but this seems perfectly realistic and achievable.

      2. Having cycled across the Tilikum Crossing in Portland I can vouch for a very pleasant experience. The walking and cycle lanes are clearly marked and are physically separated from the bus/tram/light rail roadway by barriers. Each lane is approximately 2m wide. The cycle lanes are one way: eastbound on one side and westbound on the other. So there’s plenty of room and you don’t need to worry about oncoming riders. The roadway itself is only 2 lanes wide. If a transit only bridge is reconsidered as part of the AWHC it could potentially be “only” 4 vehicle lanes wide as a maximum (assuming separation between bus/tram/light rail), plus the shared walkways on either side.

        I think the bridge idea has merit as, if I recall correctly, the Northern Busway gradients were designed to accommodate a conversion to light rail. If the bridge alignment and gradients are designed with light rail in mind this could be an “easy” way to get rail service to the North Shore. At a minimum a transit only bridge would provide a dedicated busway link from the North Shore to the CBD. Without any analytical data to back me up on this, I’d say that this would allow for an increase in busway service frequency.

        Personally I love the aesthetics of cable stayed bridges. 🙂

        If there’s a way to upload photos to the site, I’ve got several pictures I took on the Tilikum Crossing last October that I’d like to share.

      3. I agree as well. As the earlier post noted there is nowhere for additional traffic lanes to go to on either side. We simply don’t have anymore slum inner city neighbourhoods that nobody wants to live in like they did in the 1960’s. Back then they bowled a few shabby houses and emptied out some graves. That option is gone. Best way forward is to design a low rail bridge at good rail grades which are also great for walking and cycling. Give the boaties 10 years notice so the yacht owners can sell moorings to to launch owners and move out. Same with Chelsea sugar. They would be better at Marsden Pt or Tauranga- nobody will miss the wasps!

      4. I think there is good case for running a campaign for a bridge on the basis that it will be able to give us the road improvements that are promised of the tunnel (although I’m yet to see any evidence that there would be any road improvements because of the tunnel, even though I love roads, no point in building roads when they have nowhere to go) but we will also be able to have rail, walking and cycling, all presumably within the same pricetag as the tunnels and not having to wait to put rail in. Unlike some other commentators I think the bridge designs look great.

  3. As long as we can keep enough clearance for yachts (and only needs to be in the centre span), and keep it close to the current bridge (as in the render) I don’t see why not. And if it means the ‘clip on’s’ can be removed for the bridge we have now, it would be even better as we can get the existing bridge back to it’s quite good looking self.

    1. there needs to be clearance for ships going to the Chelsea sugar factory and the Navy munitions depot at Kauri Point, so regular yachts would be the least of our worries

      that said, some super yachts have had issues passing under the existing bridge!

      1. Steve I dont think you design a bridge so one industrial user can get ships under it. The Kauri point nonsense should have closed after WWII but if they insist it could easily be served by unloading at Devonport and using lighters to get to Kauri Point. The existing bridge was only built that high to serve a new port at Pollen Is which along with the Onehunga Avondale line is never going to be built.

        1. It’s not just one industrial user. There are also a multitude of yachts with quite tall spars parked up at West Harbour. Let’s not close the harbour.

        2. It would still be open for launches. Those with high masts could easily shift to a marina on the other side. Lets not lose the option of a bridge that suits rail, walking and cycling so a few rich dudes can sail by once a month.

        3. So we build some moorings for a few entitled rich white men. It’s still better than a ridiculously high bridge with marginal grades for trains and crap walkway that needs sides to stop people leaping. A lower bridge would be a community asset.

        4. I think it would be a question of safety. Unloading munitions at Devonport would expose more people to the risk of an accident while arming or disarming the ships as there are offices and houses not far from Navy wharves. You’d also be double handling the munitions and having to put them onto smaller boats with less safety features than a warship. Potentially you could move the arsenal to Army Bay but in all likelihood it would be economically unfeasible as you’d have to construct a wharf and new magazines there first.

        5. Really Mr ‘everyone should go to the regions’ thinks taxpayer funded employment shouldn’t though. Much better for ratings to have to commute through the country’s business hub for hours because they can’t afford to live in Devonport anymore [and no we certainly shouldn’t subsidise this]…. Really it is simply the most obvious and best solution for the Navy, for Whangarei, and for Auckland. So what if some officers’ wives get the hump; they’re taking our coin.

        6. Explosives are most dangerous when they are all together. Getting them into smaller lots as soon as possible is better than taking a ship load up a narrow waterway where collisions can occur. That didnt go well in Hallifax.
          Secondly most of what comes into NZ isn’t for the navy anyway. They have two 5 inch guns. Beyond that they a coast guard and fisheries service and there to decorate ceremonies.

        7. exactly Patrick.
          Northland would benefit from a population boost and more jobs and also would tie in with their need for a new airport (built a joint civil/military airport and get the Air Force out of Whenuapai also).
          The Navy would get new facilities and have a smaller wage bill due to not having to pay for Auckland housing etc, not to mention they would save a lot on fuel and time (half a days sailing time saved in each direction from North Port to go North of NZ).
          Auckland would benefit from a decent chunk of prime land freed up that would be suited to high density housing with good PT links – ferry to the CBD. It would also free up around 3000 houses in Auckland (not to mention possibilities to develop ex-Navy houses into higher density housing, even more if the Air Force moves too). It would also decrease congestion between Takapuna and Devonport.

  4. Certainly a better option I would have thought. As Patrick mentions above a PT ped bridge is also possible and would presumably be far cheaper. You could land such a bridge at silo park so it would be shorter and require minimal approach works at the southern end. And at the north you wouldnt need to do too much other than extend the busway to the abutment. Could be done for less than a billion based on similar international bridges ?

  5. To my mind its not whether there’s a bridge or a tunnel. And I do question how important it is for big ships to be able to travel up the harbour to Chelsea and Kauri Point (or the boatyards up near Whenuapai.

    its why are we bothering with adding roads to whatever we build?

    Any structure catering for 6 lanes of traffic causes a massive cost increase in whatever type of design you go for. You need a massive bridge structure for 6 lanes of traffic, not so much fro 2 lanes of rail and ped/cycling on the side.

    So lets see if we can remove the cars from the new structure to simply designs and costs.

    1. Yes I agree it should be a bridge – for light rail, cycles and pedestrians only.
      But the reality of it is that the general public want more car lanes too, and the majority of them won’t listen to logic.
      It would be political suicide to build a new bridge without car lanes IMO (although this could change by the time this thing gets started).

  6. You guys are too nice to the NZTA. The City Centre Master Plan clearly states the objective of REMOVING traffic.

    To have the NZTA similarly planning to dump traffic into the CBD from a new bridge is nothing short of incompetent.

    Take the money off these bozos and spend it on more important things.

    Btw – would have thought busway up western motorway is more urgent than rail to northshore given they already have a good LOS in comparison to westies.

    1. Couple of comments:
      – There’s some good arguments for a new crossing, albeit one that is cheaper and less horrendous than what has been proposed.
      – The NW busway seems to be a good project, but don’t forget the west also has the rail line and will benefit immensely from the CRL.
      – If we were to build a new harbour crossing, then designing it to accommodate rail at the same time would seem to make sense no?

      1. Well it is frankly outrageous, and a sign of institutional failure and political meddling, that no NW busway is being constructed as we speak. Clearly this is as well as that cost effective and overdue project, not instead of.

        No we are engaging with this because it has institutional momentum at the agency, which seems to lack checks and balances from within government [Treasury, MoT?], and political momentum from the current government which is unnaturally bonded to trucking and land speculation interests.

        If billions of our dollars are going to spent on this route we have to try to make it less destructive and less of an opportunity cost. The politicians and, sadly, it seems, the public servants can’t be relied upon to do the best thing, or even what their own research tells them. And they both have a habit of blaming the other: The officers say they’re just doing what they’re told, and politicians what they’re advised…

  7. A bridge allows dangerous goods to pass, so the biggest physical advantage is being able to use the existing bridge for northbound (+ some southbound?) traffic and a new bridge for southbound, negating the need for ramps crossing over each other at each side of the harbour.
    I think the design of the pylons should be different to the NZTA renders, which is a pair of decks balanced on each side of a post like pylon, rather it should have the pylons with an opening in the middle, allowing a single deck to run straight through, like the ANZAC bridge in Sydney and many other new cable stayed bridges. This would also be more suitable for rail under the road deck as loads are better balanced.
    The rest of the bridge can be concrete box beam similar to the Newmarket viaduct, which also suitable for running trains through the box.

  8. Still wrong, those foreshore interchanges cannot come to pass and the point stands, where are the cars going to go? We’ve either turned a corner in how we approach planning, or we have not:

    Finish rapid bus service (ie lanes) from silverdale to britomart (including bridge)
    Improve connector services on the shore, as per current plan
    Intensify along the ‘spine’
    Improve cycling and walking connections to rapid bus stations
    Toll AHB for cars and trucks and/or instigate city congestion charges
    Bypass traffic can use SH16 -> SH20

    In 10 years you’ll have the demand for light/heavy rail and can talk about another harbour crossing.

  9. There is no point in going to design consultation and not including the cost factor. How about this:
    “Do you think Auckland should have a new tunnel with a $5 each way toll, or a new bridge with no toll?”
    I guarantee you will get different answers if you include the cost element.

    1. Or even:
      “Do you think Auckland should have a road only tunnel, or a bridge for cars, cycles, pedestrians and light rail?”

      Personally I think if AT get some light rail going before the crossing is built, I can’t see NZTA getting away with building a crossing without building light rail also. Everyone is going to want light rail once they see how great it is.

  10. “Would we be happy with a new bridge if it meant ……. and reducing the impacts on the waterfront areas?”. The graphics in your post would make a lot of Aucklanders very unhappy. While the intention of moving people in a mix of walking, cycling, PT and private cars is good, the bridge approaches you outline would (I hope) never get through planning. Back to the drawing board methinks.

  11. A bridge sounds great to me – I’m still not convinced we should be adding any vehicle lanes though. If a second bridge is going to have private vehicles, perhaps we could remove the clip-ons from the existing bridge at the same time?

  12. A new multi-modal, architecturally designed bridge across the Harbour?

    I’d buy that for a few billion, if it was necessary …

    Now it’s just a question of timing … 🙂

  13. Rail only crossing under the water please.

    I live in Takapuna and work in Ellerslie. If there was a continuous rail line I would take it, currently PT is out of the question as it is double the time and double the cost of the car.

    All another traffic crossing will do is encourage more people on the Shore to drive to work. Something we do not need.

  14. Why not just convert a couple of traffic lanes on the present bridge to light rail and save over a billion on any new crossing?

    1. We are advised that’s not really feasible, additionally NZTA are of course loath to restrict private vehicle access to anywhere; that goes against their religion. No matter how insane that is for the city, for the motorist, and for the planet.

      1. Probably would have to side with the NZTA on that one. Any reduction of lanes on the Bridge without another crossing to me seems unacceptable. Even if we remove the peak traffic during the day 3 lanes in each direction would be too constricted.

        I did like the idea that if they built a traffic tunnel with rail and lanes that the bridge would be adjusted to carry peds/cycles and also have two dedicated bus-lanes…

        1. Why would it be unacceptable, already 40% of people crossing the bridge in peak are using less than one lane. In any other situation it would be instantly made bus only to respond to that

    2. you can’t simply focus on the bridge/crossing for LRT, you have to look at the whole package, that’s the failing of the current crossing scheme, considering the Waitemata in isolation from the Shore and Isthmus is myopic, we should focus on extracting the maximum benefit from the busway as a part of the whole PT network before adding more lanes across the water (moving PEOPLE and goods, remember?)

  15. I’ll add my voice to those preferring a bridge over the tunnel option

    I really like the design concept as illustrated above and feel such an addition to the harbour would add something rather than detract.

    Given the bridge would potentially add more modal options at a lower cost it seems like a good idea. Would be interested to explore the idea a bit further looking at any impact on the Port and how rail would link into the existing system.

  16. How about designing a bridge like this but with rail in the middle and walking / cycle lanes on the outside.. and future proofed structurally to add add clip on road lanes later if needed? Push a $ bn or so a decade or more out. There’s plenty of space on the shore end to get the rail tracks over any future traffic lanes to the busway side and at the city end they can just disappear down a tunnel.

  17. I don’t have a problem with a bridge if it looks good (which this design does). Hong Kong has over the past decade or so built 4 bridges like this (2 with rail underneath) and they are great.
    I also think once we are talking about $1B+ savings and then ongoing savings of over $10m pa then a bridge makes a lot more sense finacially.
    Having Road, Rail, Pedestrian/Cycle is a lot better than tunnels also and as others have mentioned a bridge is a lot safer.
    Again if we are spending this sort of money then there is no point in penny pinching for a relatively small amount of the difference between LR and HR. Do it once, do it right. Build it for HR from Aotea through to Akoranga and Takapuna. If they don’t want to built through to Albany at that stage then fine build Akoranga to Albany as LR.

    And yes move Chelsea out to North Port or Tauranga.
    Move the Navy to North Port. – I won’t go over that again in detail except to say it is a win-win for everyone to move the Navy up there.

    1. agree on all your points.

      A bad-boy good-looking bridge like this deserves better than LRT – make it heavy rail or even better driverless metro.

    2. What is the cost of heavy rail out to Albany? One figure that I have heard, supposedly from NZTA is around $11 billion. But I agree with Stu we need to do it right when it is done, too many Auckland projects have been half done.

      1. That $11b was a hatchet job by NZTA engineers to discredit it. It involved a fully tunneled line that went to Takapuna the to Glenfield and back to east of motorway and then back to Albany. Basically the most expensive route imaginable

        1. Exactly. Re purposing the NEX to HR with tunnelling only needed under Sunset Ridge and Albany Hill would reduce this cost to maybe $2.5B-$3B (Akoranga to Albany). Most of the NEX is perfectly capable of taking HR.

        2. There’s a lot more needed than that to allow heavy rail, for example Transpower run a cable trench under the busway, I’m no engineer but I’m guessing that would have to be moved or reinforced. Also from what I know the bridges on the route would need rebuilding and some parts of the busway would also need widening by way of pushing back the retaining walls. All up it wouldn’t be cheap and would see the busway closed for years while the work happened. And all that work for probably not all that much, if any benefit over light rail after you take all factors into account

        3. Matt, I don’t see why the bridges would have to be rebuilt… Trains spread their weight over distance and if you see some of the dodgy rail bridges around the country (often built out of wood) then there is no reason why a solidly recently constructed re-enforced concrete bridge shouldn’t handle those loads.
          As for the width – that is a minor issue and again there should be enough clearance (possibly removing some of the concrete barriers – since they wouldn’t be needed to stop buses exiting the busway anymore) should do the trick.
          The tunnelling would be adjacent to the busway so wouldn’t cause undue disruption (there is land beside the busway at both Sunset Ridge and Albany Hill). On a concrete prepared surface rail can be laid down quite quickly. The overhead lines might cause some disruption (double-deckers wouldn’t fit underneath) so those would need to be done quickly in stages (then again this would be an issue with LR also unless built underneath which itself would cause disruption).
          Even laying rail could be covered with those large steel plates to allow buses to continue (or do one side at a time with gaps for passing lanes during construction) – there are just so many ways to minimise disruption.

    3. Ahh, why would you create another transfer point between Albany and the CBD? Seems silly.

      Doh. This was a reply to Bruce from above when discussing HR over the harbour and then switching to LR.

      1. would be interim until HR was extended in the future.
        The greatest capacity would be needed between the City and Takapuna anyway. It would also allow for LR to be built towards Glenfield with connections at Akoranga. But I think it should be HR right through to Albany (if not further through to Silverdale and eventually linking up with the Northern Line around Kaipara Flats with the city end being extended past Aotea into the NIMT to allow for freight off-peak if future needs required (Ports of Auckland closed and North Port used).

        1. We simply don’t need heavy rail to the Shore. The capacity is no more than what modern light rail can provide. Dedicated light rail can provide shorter headways that heavy rail,

        2. By the time it is built the population of the North Shore and Hibiscus Coast will be around 500,000…that is more than enough population to support a HR line…. look at how popular the NEX is, now imagine how much more popular a nice HR train will be for those people coupled with increased population and better PT access to/from the stations along the route and you have a recipe for massive PT growth… compare that to a slower more cramped tram… most people won’t be convinced. Not too mention the capacity of LR is only 2/3 that of our current EMU trains.

        3. but Bruce, why is it you think that all those Shore residents are going to work in the CBD? North Shore City had the foresight to zone large areas of Albany as commercial, thus giving it a high level of employment self sufficiency (certainly compared to Waitakere and Manukau) with quite a bit of land still to be developed around ther Albany Centre and the Wairau Valley ripe for redevelopment, there is good reason to think that many of those thousands will work on the Shore

          one of the tragedies of the busway is that (with the possible exception of the 555) it has been used solely as a conduit to the Auckland CBD, when it could provide good counter-flow expresses from Takapuna/Devonport/Northcote/Birkenhead etc. to Albany employment and Massey

        4. Yes, LRT may carry less people but, we can run them far more frequently than we’ll ever be able to do with heavy rail. 300,000 trips per day should suffice for a very long time to come.

        5. As Bruce said, a North Shore HR line could seamlessly join the existing HR network to all points south, east and west of the CBD (and serve the opposite direction too: from areas south, east and west of the CBD to employment centres like Wairau Valley, Rosedale, Albany, etc. – so it’s NOT just about trips to/from the CBD, okay.

        6. No heavy rail can’t seamlessly connect to the existing network. It would go under Wellesley St and to connect to the rest of the rail network would probably need to carry on all the way to Parnell. So not only are you building a North Shore line which requires a complete rebuild of the busway including significant tunnelling – shutting the thing for years (contrary to what Bruce says it isn’t already mostly capable of taking heavy rail) but you’re also having to build a second CRL.

        7. Bruce – population in 2013 for the four local boards that cover the North Shore – Devonport-Takapuna, Kaipatiki, Upper Harbour (which also covers part of West Auckland) and Hibiscus Coast and Bays – was just under 300k. By 2043 it is expected to reach 439k. Given we’d expect this built in early 2030’s the population of the shore would be much less than 500k.

        8. Steve: I don’t disagree with you and have said in the past on here that we need improved counter-flow services (why send an empty bus back from Britomart-Albany positioning when it could be operating a limited stops express service instead?).

          Matt, you know that a North Shore line would involve tunnelling to Aotea anyway so once everyone see’s how successful CRL is it shouldn’t be too hard to build a much smaller tunnel through to Parnell (or where-ever…University, Hospital/Museum). As I think Patrick suggested this line could then operate as the Airport Line.

          Also 2013 figures for the North Shore/HBC? Really Matt?… These areas are amoungst the most rapidly growing areas in Auckland with the population booming… apartments going in, housing around Albany, Greenhithe, Silverdale, Orewa etc. Figures are probably well out of date already and the predictions are highly likely to be on the low side.

        9. Bruce light rail wouldn’t need that tunnel to Aotea, just an extension of the network that’s planned.

          As for population, it’s from Stats NZ. A quick look at the actual figures to 2015 shows it’s on track to be about the same as the predictions (which are 5 yearly). What’s more it is simply not correct to say the shore is one of the fastest growing areas. Between 2013 and 2015 Auckland’s population increased by 5.1%. In the four local board areas the only one with higher growth than that was upper harbour (6.2%) and I’d suggest most of that is a result of the developments at Hobsonville. Combined those local boards grew at 4.1% so 1% less than the Auckland average.

        10. Reading this thread I am struggling to see much upside to HR and a lot of downside. A few of additional benefits to light rail:

          The Shores main population centres do not lie along the busway line. Obviously with a network of feeder buses this is not a dal breaker, but if we did want to send spurs or lines to these centres it would be much easier using light rail. People talk about a HR spur to Takapuna but this would be very expensive.

          I am speculating here, but I assume a light rail corridor could also be used by buses. I doubt this is the case for HR. I think we would continue to send buses over the harbour for some time even after rail is installed and it would be good to have this flexibility.

          Unlike HR, light rail could seamlessly connect to the isthmus light rail network if and when it is built.

        11. Getting back to what Bruce originally said … just make the new harbour bridge (or tunnel) HR-capable. Don’t worry about the rest of any routes on the land sides for now, that’s another issue that can be addressed when the time comes (HR trains and LR trains can both travel on 1 in 28 grades, but HR trains cannot travel on 1 in 20 grades, so make the grades 1 in 28, or less, that’s all – and this should be easy since the bridge is longer than the existing AHB (which has a grade of 1 in 20) and doesn’t need to be as high as the existing AHB anymore (or if a tunnel, the harbour is not very deep along the line between Northcote Point and Wynyard Wharf, so the grade could be relatively easy)). A new crossing is 100+-year infrastructure. In less than 100 years Auckland could have a population of Sydney now, and Sydney needs 2 x double-track HR lines across the harbour between the North Shore and the CBD (they’re trying to catch-up now with a tunnel to replace the disused second double-track line – but could much more cheaply re-use the disused tunnels at the northern and southern approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge: and – never mind the dingo (and why not: privatisation: )) … but I digress …

          The point is: don’t make the same mistake that Auckland always makes: thinking small, and not planning for the future. Future-proof any new harbour crossing for HR, even if the rest of the route is not HR for another 20 or 50 years. Don’t build 100+-year infrastructure that has to be modified or replaced at great expense and inconvenience only 20 of 50 years (or only 10 years, in the case of the AHB) into its lifecycle because it’s too small, too steep, too curvy … too useless. Yes, a driverless metro would be great for the North Shore (and elsewhere in Auckland), I agree. Just keep in mind that within 100 years we may need a higher-capacity express commuter and freight railway to Silverdale, Warkworth, Mangawhai, Waipu, Marsden Point and Whangarei, and a driverless metro can’t do that. But from Day 1, an LR train can travel on the new HR-capable crossing and join the LR network at Wynyard … and then later, when needed, an HR train can travel on the same crossing – instead of having to build an entirely new crossing – and join the HR network at Parnell and/or Grafton and/or Britomart and/or Kingsland or wherever. Just a tiny bit of forward planning is all we need (but what we never get).

        12. Light Rail looks unbeatable for the medium term for the reasons MW outlines above; the ability to have, at reasonable capital cost and functional operating pattern, branches to Takapuna and perhaps other places, the likely existence, soon, of a City/Isthmus side network to connect to, the quicker and cheaper conversion of the Busway.

          However, as JW says Auckland is littered with short-term choices that have dogged the city for years, the existing bridge is one example. And the quality of the RoW is what matters, install LR now, but future-proof the RoW for higher capacity systems, at least Light Metro, or heavier. As eventually we are going to need to tunnel the section from Wynyard at least to Aotea, if not the full CRL-2: Shore-.Wynyard-Aotea-University-Parnell->Newmarket: [from 2012, no Newton Station]

        13. Thank you Patrick. I’m just trying to get Auckland in particular (and New Zealand in general) to get over its chronic short-sightedness (and small-mindedness).

        14. CRL-2:
          Here’s a pimped version of an older AT CRL map, with possible alignment and stations of north-south Link; Shore to Southern Line at Parnell. Apologies for quick and rough work. I have always thought Wynyard Station should run North-South and not East-West under Guant St as is usually shown. Uncertain of the depth of that Uni Station, am assuming it would be mined and not cut and cover to clear the building foundations above. Which would be tricky, Princes St and Uni grounds exits.

          While Parnell, Uni, and Aotea-2 are close together, each is separated by a gully increasing the separation of each catchment. Clearly the Uni station serves a huge catchment and the new Aotea platforms help service the growing west side of the city. In fact there would be entrances on the Western side of Nelson St and east of Hobson St it would help enormously with enabling people to navigate these areas while avoiding the motorway traffic that dominate those streets. Ante for transfers to CRL-1.

          Alternative cheaper [and better for AUT] version, drop the Uni Station and shift the Aotea-2 platforms east as described here:

          Third alternative, also with no Uni Station [which will be difficult and expensive] is to nudge the Wynyard Station further North, and add a Freemans Bay station under Wellesley around Sale St [Les Mills!].

        15. nice post Jamie and Patrick.
          I am quite excited by the prospect of a CRL-2 with a North Shore Line connecting through and probably onwards to the Airport.

        16. Patrick – interesting in your 2012 post linked to above that the shore line (in the old plans) didn’t go through Aotea but K-Road then on through Balmoral and Mt Roskill on the way to Onehunga.

          Makes sense for the shore line to run through Aotea given that is basically the center of the CBD now. But the idea of linking up with the often-talked-about “Mt Roskill spur” is an interesting one. The designation is still in place for the latter, no?

          I guess if this is light rail/metro you could swing past Aotea, up Queen St and still head out that way?

      1. The LR trains could run on the HR rails between Akoranga and the CBD (many LR systems around the world use HR tracks (admittedly usually disused) for some of their route). Obviously the signalling system would have to be good enough to handle dual LR/HR use (but signalling is a relatively cheap part of the overall investment). So if this could be done, there would not need to be a transfer between LR and HR at Akoranga.

        1. Our light rail and heavy rail networks will have completely separate track gauges so no they couldn’t share tracks. There is also normally quite different power systems.

        2. I didn’t know the LR was planned to have a different (standard?) gauge. In any case, this can still be dealt with when re-sleepering (or, ideally, install dual-gauge sleepers (or slots) from Day 1, if they’re set in concrete slab – just need recesses (or slots) in 4 places on the sleepers instead of 2, to be able to shift rail furniture from LR gauge to NZ HR gauge). There’s no problem that can’t be solved with a little forethought.

        3. Yes LR in Auckland would be on Standard Gauge while HR would be on Narrow Gauge (the opposite of what happens in many countries).
          Entirely possible to have both types of rail on the same sleeper. Typically even if a common gauge is used the rails themselves are different (since LR is steerable it would be easier to derail on standard rails).
          So yes build it with sleepers that can handle both rails would be my answer. Our new LR system is apparently being investigating using beneath rail power supply rather than using pantographs. HR in Auckland uses the overhead pantograph system – as does the mothballed Wynyard tramway (on a different system though).

        4. No it is one of the great traditions of rail building that each grand new scheme have a different gauge and preferably a different power system as well. Good to see Auckland doing its bit in this respect.

    4. Also agree on all your points: economise now, and plan now for the future by future-proofing for the future at the same time, which economises for the future also:

      -> a beautiful PT/active-only bridge crossing (the critical piece in the network) that is suitable for HR, even if only used for LR initially, along with dedicated/separated walking and cycling lanes – designed so that it can easily (and cheaply) have road lanes added to it later to replace the current bridge (by that time, so many people will be using PT as a matter of choice that 2 road lanes each way may be okay – which would be a great improvement for Northcote Point and St Marys Bay).

      [I used to be in the tunnel camp, as I wanted to return the harbour to its pre-bridge look, but now I see that a beautiful bridge is an enhancement, not an eyesore.]

  18. Always thought the current bridge was an ugly bridge. Hard to believe it was built 30 years after the Sydney bridge and was more uglier and more useless. NZ don’t seem to learn of others well. Would love a new more functional bridge with walking, cycling, trains, bus lanes.

  19. That bridge looks beautiful.

    Overall sounds like common sense to go for a cheaper option to build, is cheaper to maintain and is multi modal. It looks great too. Much nicer than the current bridge.

  20. 3rd idea:

    Have car ferries between Devonport and the CBD. Combined with the relatively stagnant AHB traffic volumes, there won’t be any real need for either a bridge or a tunnel. Even with the short wait to board, it’ll still be faster and easier than driving up to Takapuna and doubling back twice a day for all those cars going to/from Devonport. Could even eat breakfast in the comfort of your own vehicle.

    1. it was the 90 minute wait for car ferries in the 40s and 50s that drove the planning for the bridge, we do need to learn from history!

  21. A new iconic mega bridge, double decker with trains and many lanes of traffic. Demolish the eyesore that is the current one and free up existing approaches(Northcote and Westhaven) for development. Ditch the whole Tunnel idea…its just copying Sydney anyway.

    1. Yes, I’ve thought about this for 20 years or so: it would be great to have St Marys Bay as a city beach – like in Barcelona. Would really add to the Wynyard Quarter.

      1. Except Barcelona’s beach is direct onto the Mediterranean Sea with cleaner, clearer, warmer water and nicer sand. It isn’t a harbour beach like St Marys Bay would be (that’s not to say a beach there wouldn’t be nice… it just wouldn’t hold a candle to Barcelona’s beaches (or the good looking topless women on them)

        1. I was thinking of importing some nice sand to make a nice big sandy beach between Wynyard and Pt Erin pools, and taking measures to keep the sand in place (and taking other measures to make sure the harbour water is clean and good to swim in).

  22. There are many stunning bridges in NZ (e.g. Whangarei bridge) so we seem to be quite good at designing and building them. I can’t say I’ve seen very many inspiring roads recently.

  23. Referring to Geoff third idea. So subsidise overnight parking in car park buildings close to the ferry building for ferry users. So they are not part of the peak load on the bridge but still have access to their cars for the last mile or so to work plus if they are needed to run business trips during the day. I am sure it would suit some people who have good ferry access in the likes of Devonport etc.

    1. There are a few people who take the ferry from Waiheke or Devonport to town and then hop in a car, but there can’t be very many, and it doesn’t seem like a good use of public funds to subsidise them. But car sharing schemes are actually great for this – especially the people who may or may not need to nip out during the day.

    2. I recall hearing a discussion between a couple of suits on the Devonport ferry: “what do you do if you need a car at work?” “oh, I have a cheap car in the office parking building that I use if I have to” “what about the weekends then?” “I just leave it there and use one of the cars at home”

      different lifestyle, different values eh?

      1. That’s probably an easier start point to move things towards leaving the car at home, taking the ferry/PT and using a pool car or pool/hire bike for work trips, when compared with the fixed “need” to drive there from home and park at work?

  24. If having a bridge is going to save that much in up-front as well as on-going costs, then I would prefer to get a bridge. However, having two bridges that go from and to the same place would look really ugly. Has anyone done the sums on a bigger bridge that replaces the current one as well as adding lanes, paths and rail?

    And what about one of these type of crossings?

    They allow ships to pass above the traffic, while only having a reasonably short gully which heavy rail could easily boost across. Of course, ours would need to be wider and longer to allow sugar boats over with a deeper draft, and more lanes across for all the modes (as well as the water that empties from the harbour).

      1. Classic, ugly but functional, would be good in certain environments. Thanks for sharing, typical Dutch to invent the such things! Is this actually in use somewhere? Would it suit Auckland harbour potential rough water though?

  25. Driverless Light Metro Bridge with walking/cycling access. The Driverless Network would be built over time in stages, Stage 1) Aotea to Albany & a spur to Takapuna. Stage 2) Extend to Silverdale, Stage 3) Extend to Westgate via Upper Harbour & Hobsonville. Stage 4) Aotea to Westgate via SH16 & Stage 5) Extend to Huapai. Final running patten would be Silverdale to Consti via Aotea & Westgate + Takapuna to Huapai via Aotea & Westgate. After Stage 5 you could consider a diesel shuttle between Helensville & Swanson connecting the far west to Western & Northwestern Lines.

    Advantages: Cheaper than heavy rail due to being able to handle tougher grades & smaller turning circles, higher capacity than LRT due to Class A ROW, the Metro size train & driverless moving block system allowing 30 trains an hour each way or a train every 120 seconds if you wanted.

    Makes future roads redundant because you have capacity Southbound from the Shore of 766 x 30 = 22982 + you also have people coming eastbound from Northwest, so you have no counter peak track, so another realistic 22982 capacity. So the system moves 45960 people an hour or is the equivalent of building a 21 laned motorway next to SH18, SH16, & SH1 North (45960 / 2100)

  26. I am thoroughly convinced that North Shore suburbs don’t need more traffic volumes at peak times which will occur if there is a second car crossing. (Please don’t mistake this view as opposition to housing intensification!)

    Yesterday I send an OIA to NZTA requesting, amongst other things, their predictions of hourly traffic increases on major lower Shore arterials during peak periods; necessary road widening; and air quality levels due to greater vehicle movements.

    I have also asked whether they have investigated driverless metro to Akoranga Station and if so the costings.

    Like others I can see the need for a rail tunnel to link the Shore and city, but the opportunity to move people around the Shore should not be discounted. You only need to look as far as Wellington to see the success of moving people by train to the Stadium and surely Massey, the Albany stadium, the mall and the emerging business district around Corinthian Drive could be accessed by a well located station?

    I for one am not going to accept that a second car crossing is inevitable so therefore we look for the best alternative.

  27. If we dont think more vehicle lanes over the harbour and flooding the CBD is justified, then we shouldnt roll over just because a bridge is cheaper.

    While personally I think two bridges largely servicing the same land points would look cluttered, I could live with it if one was dedicated to rail (whatever type) and/or buses, cycling and walking. The other private vehicles and freight.

    I am not fussed which one serves which.

    Just make the new one bigger and grander than the last one….

  28. What the advocates of vehicle (bridge or tunnel) crossings seem to ignore is what is going to happen to the traffic once it enters town. Auckland is not exactly awash with parking facilities and those facilities are rapidly diminishing as land that is currently used for parking is being converted into more productive use. So if the powers that be want to cram more vehicles into the city centre maybe they should be forced to factor additional parking facilities into their equations, in which case the projects just would not stack up financially.

  29. OK I’m in favour of a new bridge. If we are going to build a bridge, build A bridge.
    Remove the existing one completely reclaiming some valuable land at both ends etc etc
    Looks better, less maintenance cost of the old structure.
    Four lanes of general traffic each way.
    Light rail double tracked.
    Decent sized cycle lanes each way.
    Decent sized pedestrian lanes.
    Proper future proofed for heavy rail upgrade in future, or perhaps this best done as a future rail only tunnel that will handle freight also.
    Do we need bus lanes also, or perhaps just at peak times?…but then that means barely enough general traffic lanes?
    Four lanes enough if pulling down the old bridge? We will now have LRT, active modes, wider lanes & a gentler slope on the new one remember.
    What happens to the Ponsonby on and off ramps? – these are pretty low use aren’t they?

  30. I think a PT only / Active mode bridge could be run into Silo Park and then down Daldy St, it would then link up with the existing Queens / Symonds St LRT.
    I think an East – West cross town route should then run from Halsey / Fanshawe St and use either Wellesley or Victoria St to Symonds St.
    Victoria seems the better option as it is already being shaped as a linear park and LRT would complement that.
    It could be run up Bowen and Waterloo and connect into / interchange with Symonds St LRT. 2nd stage extension could be through to Carlaw Park and Parnell Station.


  31. I recall an old concept from the 1940’s for a bridge, I really liked it. It was a Golden Gate style suspension bridge that crossed from Parnell to Devenport. I think that would be the best idea, as long as it is high enough for ships, and that it can either carry Light Rail or Heavy Rail, pedestrians and cyclists.

    1. it’s tempting to think of a crossing in isolation from its effects on the landing at either end, even if a Parnell to Devonport crossing was LRT only, there just isn’t space on Lake Road for a separate LRT right of way and the road is so often congested that sharing lanes would be impossible

      and with all due respect to Parnell, pleasant as it is, what purpose is LRT going to serve there? hospital? Newmarket?

      a Parnell to Devonport crossing (nimby issues aside) simply isn’t going to provide sufficient capacity to be a long term solution

  32. Hello! We are Anes and Emily and we are Year 13 students from Rangitoto College! For our NCEA level 3 Geography internal assessment, we are researching the proposed Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing.

    Your blog entries have been a huge help to our report and we would like to thank you for having such a great analysis about this proposed plan.
    One thing we really need to request everyone (for our internal) is that we are currently trying to collect at least 75 surveys of people’s viewpoints about this plan.

    I am really sorry if this comment disturbs anyone (i will delete it straight away if it does) but if you would be so kind, we would be super delightful for you to fill out our survey! they are all multi-choice questions and it will take less than a minute to finish 🙂

    you just have to go straight to this link,

    Thank you so much! 😀 and have a nice day!

    1. Thank you so much to people who did our survey so far!
      We now have 40 surveys done in total and have 35 to go which is super amazing!

      i really wish i could thank everyone one by one but because i do not have any contact details of the respondents it is impossible to do so 🙁
      Please keep in mind that we are both super thankful and are very happy every time we receive an email saying that someone has responded to our survey!

      Once again, thank you so much for your help and using up your time to do our surveys, there have been many awesome comments and opinions in so much depth.

      Just an additional note, if there is anyone who would love to share more of their opinions about the additional harbour crossing, send me an email (with a subject: survey) through, [email protected] or please leave your email in the commenting section of our survey.
      Then we will send you few interview questions for you to fill out or reply on, so that we have more detailed primary data for the report we are currently making 🙂

      Thank you so much!

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