After months of delays the opening of the Waterview tunnels is finally in sight with Transport Minister Simon Bridges announcing it will open in early July and that there will be open days over the next two weekends. That follows the ribbon cutting on Sunday.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says Auckland’s Waterview Tunnel will open to traffic in early July, marking the biggest milestone in the city’s transport network in more than half a century.
The $1.4 billion Waterview Connection is New Zealand’s biggest and most complex roading project, including twin 2.4km-long three-lane tunnels.
“Once open, it will transform the way people and freight move around Auckland, and will represent the biggest change in travel patterns since the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959,” Mr Bridges says.
A ceremonial opening on Sunday, 18 June will be followed by public open day’s to allow people the chance to experience the tunnel up close before opening to traffic.
They’ve also released this fly through.
It seems odd that they can have public open days but still don’t list an exact opening date. If I had to guess, they’re waiting for school holidays to start before opening the tunnel to lessen the chance of massive congestion creating news stories the next day.
Interestingly there are two open days, one on the Sunday 18th and another a week later on Sunday 25th but to attend you had to book a spot at http://www.tunnelopening.co.nz/. After being announced at about midday yesterday, Simon Bridges tweeted at just after 5pm that already over 22,000 tickets had been snapped up. Unfortunately, as of later last night the site says that all tickets for all sessions have been snapped up. One of the first to go were all the tickets to be able to ride a bike through the tunnel – although the NZTA placed some bizarre conditions on that too, like only allowing people over the age of 16, and as these Facebook replies indicate, not even allowing kids on bike seats.
We thought there might be an announcement coming after the NZTA published 14 videos on YouTube about tunnel on Friday. Some were merely information, like telling people to stay in their lane, what the vehicle height limits are etc. but a number are also talking about how it will affect people’s journeys. One thing that’s notable from them is the people talk about how they think it’s going to make their trips at peak times faster when the NZTA have been saying the opposite, including this recently.
If you’re expecting the long-awaited new Waterview Connection to ease Auckland’s rush-hour traffic, prepare to be disappointed.
NZTA Auckland highway manager Brett Gliddon told The AM Show on Friday the $1.4 billion tunnel will twice a day likely suffer the same gridlock as the rest of the city.
“We’ve never said it would fix peak congestion in the city,” said Mr Gliddon. “There’s still going to be a morning peak and an afternoon peak, and the tunnel will be a part of that.”
Here are the full versions of the story videos (there are some short versions too).
I do think the tunnel will be useful and I’m looking forward to using it (off peak/weekends) when I’m heading to see family in South Auckland/out of Auckland. But at peak times traffic is likely to be as bad as ever with this graphic giving a good indication of the issues the opening of the tunnel will create. Citybound, the two lanes from the tunnel plus the lane from the Gt North Rd interchange plus the three lanes on SH16 from west of Waterview all need to join and merge into four lanes east of Waterview. Westbound there is also likely to be challenges as there will be traffic from the tunnels needing to weave across multiple lanes to exit at Rosebank.
I think it will be an interesting few weeks as we have the official opening then move on to the actual opening. We’ll finally get the answers to so many questions, such as
- How badly will it be congested in the peak?
- Will local roads see the traffic reductions the NZTA promised in their modelling?
- Will it ease any traffic through SH1 and the central motorway junction?