Yesterday the Waterview tunnels were officially opened by the Prime Minister and Transport Minister Simon Bridges – although it was a photo op Steven Joyce couldn’t pass up either.
Prime Minister Bill English and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the $1.4 billion Waterview Tunnel.
Mr Bridges says the Waterview Tunnel completion celebration today marks the biggest change in Auckland’s transport system since the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959.
“The Waterview Tunnel is one of the most important infrastructure developments to take place in New Zealand and will help unlock Auckland’s potential as a world class city and secure its future economic prosperity,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Waterview Tunnel is the final link in the Western Ring Route, a new 48km route linking the west of Auckland, Manukau, the city and the North Shore.
The term “final link” is interesting as it’s something used in the NZTA material too. If only it was the final bit of work so we could then focus all of our attention on building the much needed and complementary strategic PT network.
I went along yesterday for one of the walks through the tunnel, along with thousands of others. Perhaps one of the more ironic aspects of the day is a lot of people got to the opening of a road by using public transport – a sign of how Auckland is changing perhaps. This was in the form of buses that were put on to shuttle people between the Mt Albert station and Hendon Park where the walk started. This was somewhat surprising given the crappy 30 minute weekend frequencies on the rail network.
Right, onwards to the tunnel
I wonder how many people will ignore the “no lane changing” rules?
Time to enter the orange mouth of the tunnel. There was a steady stream of people making the walk, even getting a little congested in places as people stopped to take photos
It was a little disappointing the walk was limited to only part way though the tunnel, it would have been interesting to walk the whole length and take a look from the towering ramps at the Waterview end. Everyone was funneled through the relatively narrow cross passages. As I understand it, the bike through the tunnel will go the entire length.
In the photos the lanes look quite narrow however this at least gives some perspective as to their widths.
After exiting it was time to head back to the entrance and get another look at Te Whitinga (the crossing), which is the formal name for the Hendon footbridge. It looks great but is a shame it’s not open yet.
Did you go for a walk through the tunnel yesterday, what did you think?
There’s no doubt the tunnel is an impressive bit of engineering. The big question though is what’s going to happen to traffic after it open and just how bad will SH16 be.
Now we wait to find out when it will actually open for use – the NZTA still haven’t said yet.