With a new Government, we are able to have a rethink of some of the Transport priorities for Auckland. One of these is the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing project.

This project has gone very quiet as of late, since the Auckland Transport Alignment Project clearly demonstrated it was nowhere near the high priority that NZTA had previously suggested, deferring it by around 20 years well into the third decade.

The ATAP Supporting Information rubbished NZTA’s previous justification for the project’s urgency, highlighting that there is no engineering reason for it to be required:

Although the bridge has been strengthened in the past decade, it has limited ability to cater for ongoing growth in heavy vehicle traffic. Consequently, some level of heavy vehicle management will be needed in the future. Initial work indicates that the economic impacts of this heavy vehicle management on its own are likely to be relatively minor compared to the construction cost of a new crossing.

The NZCID, now Infrastructure New Zealand, commented that the motorway tunnel would provide extremely low value for money in their Transport Solutions for a Growing City Report (page 31):

“The proposed Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing performs the worst economically, delivering a BCR of 0.4.”

“… The proposed Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing is throttled at both its northern and southern termination points, constraining its potential. It cannot connect new businesses and communities and it cannot lift the opportunities for the region, as its predecessor, the Auckland Harbour Bridge has done. Consequently, it cannot deliver economic and social benefits consistent with its high cost and these limitations are highlighted by conventional cost benefit analysis which shows a return of 40 cents for every dollar invested.” – Page 63

The business case would likely be even poorer if Smarter Pricing were assumed.

Furthermore, the North Shore Rapid Transit Strategic Case showed that most cross-harbour demand was for the City Centre and Fringe. We also learnt that the Busway was reaching capacity much faster than anticipated by earlier modelling with capacity likely to be reached in the mid to late 2020s.

…by 2026, the joint AT/ NZTA Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project is anticipated to have completed the missing section of the busway, constructed a new Rosedale Busway station and provided and additional platform to Constellation Station, therefore improving these deficiencies. Capacity problems are somewhat reduced by 2026 due to implementation of bus infrastructure improvements in the City Centre, however, Albany Station experiences capacity problems. However, by 2026, a significant improvement in city centre bus infrastructure has been assumed. These interventions, while still conceptual in nature and subject to funding commitments, these upgrades are still constrained by signals at intersections. As such even in 2026, soon after implementation the city centre infrastructure is likely to only just provide sufficient capacity to meet demands.

and

…by 2026, increased patronage on the busway and busway stations is likely to manifest in over capacity conditions and poor operational performance at Albany Station due to large volumes of commencing services in the AM peak which use up a lot of station capacity. Sunnynook Station which has the shortest platforms of all the busway stations will also be experiencing over capacity conditions affecting dwell times. Akoranga Station is also starting to experience congestion by this time

North Shore PT Demand Model

The forecasted cross-harbour trips are also focused heavily on the City Centre and Fringe with very little trips past Penrose. As City Centre parking and street capacity becomes ever more scarce along with the introduction of Smarter Pricing increasing cross-harbour roading capacity doesn’t seem to make more sense at all.

From what I can understand the aim is still a shared road/PT crossing. I think this is a mistake there is also no reason the road/rail components need to be combined for two main reasons:

  1. The road alignment is not likely to be the best alignment for rail. The tunnel is likely to be very deep at its city end, making a Wynyard Quarter station difficult and also making it hard to link in with the light-rail network proposed between Wynyard, Queen Street, Dominion Road and onto the Airport.
  2. We will need rail a long time before we need a new road crossing as the busway reaches capacity and as the cross-harbour demand is forecasted to be focused mainly on the City Centre this is a job for spacially efficient rapid transit.

These reasons mean we should reassess building a transit-only crossing first, and also look again at some previous assumptions made around the best alignment for a public transport crossing.

ATAP estimated a tunnelled light rail line connecting from Wynyard Quarter to at least Takapuna at $1,868 million with an extension to Grand Drive Orewa at another $868 million. So that’s $2.7 billion for light rail from Orewa to the City, compared to $3.7 billion for the road tunnels alone. With the new Government committing to Light Rail Wynyard Quarter to the Airport one of the major issues is solved as the North Shore Light Rail can now connect directly into this system.

We should also reconsider making this particular crossing a bridge. As well as being significantly cheaper than tunnelling likely reducing the cost to Takapuna to around $1b, it could allow walking and cycling from the start. A road crossing which could include heavy rail or driverless metro could then be built as a second (or Third) stage when it is needed in the distant future.

Bridge Design with Light Rail/Walking/Cycling – Helsinki
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116 comments

  1. An interesting space. I am a bit surprised how low the amounts are for places other than CBD in 2046 model. The 2013 census figures had more people going to Auckland isthmus than CBD. In real life there are 3 lanes going to CBD and 4 going past CBD. (I have counted Cook st as CBD and St Mary’s bay as isthmus)

    1. It likely to do with the fact you only have x capacity on the CMJ and you can’t really add to it infrastructure wise so at some point the demand can’t increase past that limit.

      It another reason the road crossing makes zero sense just throws more traffic at an increasingly at capacity spaghetti just to many meatballs

      1. Without looking at the data too hard (on my phone) anecdotally, if I’m driving N-S in the AM peak from North Shore, most traffic over the bridge goes past CBD and stays on SH1. Penrose / Mt Wellington is a major motorist destination in the am from Nth Shore. Based on observations.

        1. We can math out an estimate of current conditions pretty quick:

          We know at peak times heading south across the bridge, 60% of people are in traffic, and 40% of people are on the bus.

          Of the 40% on the bus, all of them go to the central area.

          Of the 60% of those driving, they use five lanes on the bridge in the peak direction. Two of those lanes go through to the southern motorway (2/5ths of 60%), one goes to the northwestern/Waterview (1/5th), and the rest exits to the central area (2/5ths).

          So of the 100% of people crossing the harbour bridge southbound at peak, approximately:

          – 64% go to the central city and fringe (40% on the bus, 24% in traffic)
          – 12% go to the west
          – 24% go further south.

          Obviously a bit rough, many of those going south would exit to Newmarket or Eden Terrace at Gillies Ave. Also this assumes all lanes are roughly full to the same extend.
          And I haven’t counted ferries from the north shore, which would up the central figure maybe 5%.

    2. If you look very closely at that image, the central zone is actually labelled CBD + Fringe + Newmarket together. There are six sets of motorway ramps to that zone.

      Also that’s total demand, driving and PT. There is a lot of PT modeled across the harbour in 2046 (the majority at peak I assume, given it’s about 40% share today). So in 30 years the motorway capacity is increasingly less relevant at peak times.

  2. I also wondered could you do a draw bridge?. Advantage would be flatter bridge and I presume cheaper. If opened on the hour or just even hour boats would know when to come and train schedules could work around it.

  3. A bridge gets in the way of ships & yaughts. For anyone who doesn’t like wharves, a bridge must be worse. Then there are the waters edge connections for a bridge and what they’ll effect. These and other reasons push the choice towards a tunnel.
    While we’ve seen studies for roading connections across a myriad of points, I don’t recall any comparisons for light rail that included the likes of Pt Chev/Meola, Grafton Gully, Glenfield Rd, Devonport, etc.along with CBD-Northcote, i.e. SH1. I think this needs looking at first, rather than just accepting the SH1 thinking.
    As something must be built in future, and it will cost a lot of money, the introduction of travel demand management on the bridge should happen soon, before congestion gets worse

    1. Devonport has basically no growth and will make trips really long for everyone else so that is out.

      “A bridge gets in the way of ships & yaughts”

      Depends on the design.

      1. Slightly off topic but … Devonport will have growth despite the siege mentality of some of the existing residents. Ngati Whatua own significant portions of the peninsula which they intend to re-develop with high density housing. Right now a 400 unit retirement village is under construction. Next up is the Hillary block which will have 334 new homes replacing 82 existing houses. They have 3 more large block of land after these are done. North of the golf course the planning rules are less restrictive and development is happening. An apartment building is under construction at the intersection of Lake Rd & Old Lake Rd. Across the road from this a large site has been cleared for development. And I have no doubt that one day the navy base will one day be high density housing

          1. I think Chris makes a good point on this one. Looking at the unitary plan maps, the area north of the golf course is all zoned mixed housing or denser, which is significantly higher density than say the areas surrounding Dominion Road. One day soon I’d like to see higher density supported by light rail down from Takapuna as far as Belmont.

            Your post on this is excellent by the way! How can anyone still be calling for further road capacity across the harbour when light rail can deliver so many more benefits for under half the cost. I have another question for you though: if the busway is changed to light rail, what happens to all of the buses that use it but carry on to the Browns Bay and other locales?

          2. Those buses would terminate at the interchanges very similar to how the Western and Southern New Networks operate freeing up buses to run more frequency on local routes.

            Many Glenfield/Birkenhead/Onewa buses will likely still head to the city however you would have the option of transferring at Onewa if you believe it faster during peak, transferring SW/NW or if heading WQ/Downtown/Uptown rather than midtown/unis.

        1. Absolutely there should be housing intensification along Lake Road and close environs On of the major impediments to achieving this is that most of the people of Devonport need to drive out of the area; and if they don’t need to, they want to and they are damn well going to.The consequence is that it will be nigh on impossible to establish an effective public transport corridor along Lake Road.

  4. The Harbour Bridge is problematic now. Apart from extreme off peak, i.e. the dead of night, it needs a minimum 4 lanes either way. Once the lane closures commence, from 4 each to 5 and 3, it gridlocks south bound traffic and at 4.00 pm yesterday it was stationary at the Northcote Rd overbridge. This is normal. The opposite direction is little better and all it takes is one tiny incident and its all over.

    We really need fast alternatives built quickly, as in now, to supplement the motorway such as rail, to relieve the congestion but also a bus lane either way for all those areas not served by rail.

    And dear I say it, for trucks too, as these must be hammering the bridge, especially after Joyce’s 53 tonne, 22 metre “as of right” behemoths were allowed to chew up the infrastructure.

    Thing is with another bridge, ships have to clear it so it’s either a Sydney Harbour Bridge scenario or the same again as what we have!

    1. A replacement bridge would probably only need to be a high as the Upper Harbour Bridge – 19m if I remember right. The Harbour Bridge was built for the port at Pollen Island that never eventuated, I don’t think one industrial user (Chelsea) should dictate a design that costs $1 billion more.

      1. One industrial user and a lot of yachties. Think there would be a lot of trouble if a new bridge made Westhaven marina inaccessible to a large number of sailing boats.

          1. A Beneteau Oceanis 45 has an airdraft of 20.6m. 20m bridge clearance will lock out most racing boats over 40′ in length and most cruising boats over 45′. With at least 3 sailing clubs including the RNZYS to the West of the proposed bridge that would get a lot of protests.

          2. Any bridge needs to be as high as the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Not only for the yaught clubs, but to keep access to the Waitemata Harbour for as many vessels as possible.

            There is a lot of development yet to happen down from the Harbour Bridge.

        1. I agree, just like the now gone sewer pipe across Hobson Bay excluded any kind of boat south east of Paratai Drive just because it was the cheapest option.

          The Waitemata needs to remain fully open.

        1. There would be a number of reasons – cost, impact on pedestrian and cycling accessibility.

          It may will be the impact on navigation is too great to build it any lower, however I equally think we shouldn’t just blindly build a 43m high bridge and impact on the number of cyclists using the bridge, when that height may only be required occasionally.

          1. Meh, that would leave the bridge as less steep than the Grafton Gully cycleway, the Nelson Street cycleway or parts of the Northwestern cycleway…

        2. Because the existing bridge was constrained by the need to allow ships to get to the future port at Pollen Island. That project was abandoned as a plan in the late 1960’s. The next bridge doesn’t have to be built in such a constrained manner.

          1. Except that we now have marinas and boat builders in the harbour that still need reasonable clearance.

            It’s hardly a constraint to make a new bridge with the same clearance as the existing bridge, obviously.

    2. I travel the bridge every day and I see some slow traffic but I don’t see the imperative for a new bridge like you do. But let’s run with your theory. Given that the government doesn’t have money to do anything currently, perhaps we should set a toll to facilitate the project. I am going to choose $20 for the city trip. I have chosen $20 because it’s roughly comparable to the London congestion charge ($23) and a second bridge will certainly cause congestion that Auckland will have to deal with. (It may also cause widespread respiratory problems for city residents as occurs in London, but I would prefer to keep the emotion out of this.)
      So working on $20 per day let’s assume that the current number of cars still use the bridge – I am sure that they are all, “must use a car trips” so that seems a reasonable assumption So the City is collecting $300,000 per day, or in round figures 2.1M per day. Or about 110M per year. In five years there would already be 550M. But wait, if we were buying a house we wouldn’t even be anywhere near the deposit level for an over 5 billion dollar purchase.
      A new road tunnel simply doesn’t stack up economically and the BCR of 0.4 shows that.
      It also doesn’t stack up for a number of other reasons one of those being how vehicle emissions contribute to climate change. Perish the thought that sea levels rise by 70cm and at high tide Waspman struggles to drive at 80kph on the northern approach to the bridge because water 20 or 30cm deep is covering the road.
      My proposal is to turn a northbound lane into a busway to encourage more people to use public transport and help ease congestion. To fix traffic city bound traffic lets have those who work in Takapuna and other suburbs pay market price for AT parking. I suspect that will ease much of the congestion.
      Much of Europe have realised that a world where we can drive anywhere as often as we like is not sustainable and the sooner we come to that realisation the better placed we will be.

      1. I agree, users should pay their full costs.

        There should be a congestion toll on the bridge which is reviewed every 6 months and applies in those hours when the bridge is over congested (Singapore best practice)

        That funding though should eventually flow back into an additional crossing in some location in some manner & would either have PT or additional PT capacity on the AHB.

        Having a single harbor crossing carries resilience risks (the alternative is quite some drive)

  5. NZTA are a long way through the modelling and land acquisition for this crossing – but they were even further along with East-West. This can be done.

    If Greater Auckland wanted to really shift this supertanker project, they should knock on the door of Stephen Selwood and write a common brief to the government along these lines:

    “The priorities for housing growth in Auckland are too pressing to spend this precious capital on this tunnel at this time. The Minister needs to signal in the new GPS and in the NLTP that the Waitemata crossing will be delayed until there is proven demand for it, and not before.”

    You don’t have to propose together what the reallocated funding should be used for – that’s for the RLTP and for successive budgets. And you will have different prioritisation lists.

    But it would be very hard for Twyford to ignore the two leading transport lobbyists joining together to say the same thing. Capital is scarce, Auckland’s growth needs attending to, and taxpayer funding needs to be used for the highest possible yield.

    If Waitemata Crossing were killed off for a couple of decades, it would in turn enable NZTA to reprioritise their internal design and project capacity to focus on capacity for urban growth. Which is what the Minister has directed their Board to do anyway.

    Get the team together and go talk to Mr Selwood.

  6. If that is 2.7 billion to orewa for light rail, how much for faster heavy rail?
    Why not do it once and do it right
    Light rail makes sense for short distances like dominion rd but all the way to orewa why settle for second best.
    Plus heavy rail can handle greater numbers of people

    1. 1. Heavy Rail would not be faster because HR wouldn’t go into Orewa because a station would sit on the outskirts which you would have to walk/drive/bus/cycle to which would increase travel tomes.

      Also because it would follow a similar corridor to HR so would have really no speed advantage where it does have advantage in top speed it loses it as Light Rail has better acceleration out of stations.

      It also isn’t quicker to Up/Down town as you would need to transfer at Aotea.

      2. It would cost a fortune more North Shore Light Rail can leverage the investment that will be made for the WQ – Mt Roskill section. Meanwhile HR would require the building of a CRL 2 at a massive cost. Also due to HR Geometry the costs will also be much higher due to the need for more tunnel, viaduct and cuttings.

      1. Surely this seems like a perfect sort of route for the kinds of light rail units/design/infrastructure that are particularly heavy rail-esque? Light metro, I think that’s the name.

        The point is on the road where necessary (such as for stations in town centres) but wherever possible on separate tracks like with the trains now.

        1. Any kind of rail to the North Shore would require that the alignment follow the existing dedicated bus lanes. There is no other room anywhere for anything else, unless you want to commit political suicide and take out existing motorway lanes and redesign the entire motorway system at the same time.

          The existing North Shore bus route infrastructure has sufficient grade for light rail, and the bridges are designed to take a light rail loading.

          But heavy rail would not work on those grades, and all of the bridges would need rebuilding. To spell that out, that would mean crippling the entire North Shore PT network for several years, completely unnecessarily.

          1. Good points. Additionally, LR has the advantage of being easy to expand.

            Imagine being able to serve Devonport via LR into Takapuna? Later on Takapuna to the Eastern Bays? Birkenhead or Glenfield to Takapuna prior to the bays?

            HR simply isn’t suited to that kind of expansion, whereas LR can share existing roads. May not be best practice, but easily done. Done cheaply, too.

        2. Yes exactly. In this case by light rail we mean a dedicated standard gauge passenger rail facility capable of 80 to 100 km/hr. All that is now possible with low floor light rail vehicles that can then finish on surface in the city. That just goes to show that the boundary between high end LRT and small metros has become blurred.

    2. I think its a myth that heavy rail is faster in an urban setting. Sure it has a higher top speed (which it rarely hits), but lower acceleration and deceleration, longer dwell time, more signalling delays. All up I would imagine heavy rail is significantly slower than light rail assuming both have the same dedicated corridor and same number of stops.
      Our heavy rail takes 54 mins from Papakura to Britomart at an average speed of 38km/hr.

      1. You can spec a light rail or metro system that performs at least as well as our heavy rail. The light rail in Seattle runs at 120km/h on stretches out to the airport for example.

        1. Also plenty of capacity, Seattle has light rail units that take 194 people (50% seated, 50% standing), and the run three units coupled into a train for just under 600 people.

          They have designed for four-unit trains in the future with 800 people each, and running every two minutes. So capacity wise that’s a theoretical 24,000 people per hour, per direction. So a little more than the theoretical capacity of of the City Rail Link.

    3. Heavy rail would be around $13 billion to Orewa based on the indicative costs I’ve seen published, i.e. something like:

      -Second CRL and new platforms in the city to run it into: About $3b.
      -Under harbour tunnel that starts deeper and needs to be longer and shallower than light rail: say $2.5b.
      -15km tunnel up the north shore to past the hills north of Albany (busway is too steep/undulating for heavy rail) at $400m/km (including six new underground stations): $6b.
      -12km surface line from around Redvale to Orewa at $100m/km (including four above ground stations): $1.2b.

      1. Nick R

        Or you can spec out a heavy rail system that performs over just the same alignment that you envisage for light rail, and which doesn’t require the additional tunnelling works you allude to.

        There is no reason why suitably spec’d heavy rail can’t do this.

        You and I have argued repeatedly over whether a “KiwiRail-spec’d” system could deliver this, so let’s remove the KR factor and assume North Shore heavy rail would be as out-of-KiwiRail’s control as would any light rail, and all of a sudden, European-style HR systems which can climb gradients of 4-5% become possible. So those additional tunnelling costs you refer to and those 6 underground stations simply disappear and heavy rail instantly drops to about half your claimed price.

        Now this in itself does not prove that HR is the way to go – there is still the matter of HR access into the CBD requiring more than just cheaply commandeering a few streets – but what it does show is that your persistent attempts to asperse heavy rail by foisting extra costs onto it are not vaild.

        Sorry to have to keep regurgitating this same boring rebuttal, but you keep trotting out the same generalised misinformation.

    4. The LRT units being looked at are fine for running to Orewa. Rotterdam is transitioning a longer distance HR service to LRT right now. 100 km/h LRT units exist.

  7. Surely we need to increase the capacity of our existing harbour crossing by converting much of it to PT before we start looking at another crossing? We have the WRR now so it’s time to repurpose the bridge and minimise the damaging effect of the motorway. Having a motorway dissecting the city was perhaps the worst of all the bad transport decisions made last century.

    1. The issue isn’t the crossing its bus congestion on Fanshawe and Lower Albert as well as terminal capacity at Britomart West interchange.

      At some point we can’t keep throwing NEX Buses at the problem we really need to move to a more spatially efficient mode.

      The other issue we have is in the interim Fanshawe Street will have to be both a seriously high capacity Urban Busway and have Light Rail. When NS Light Rail PT demand can be mostly served by Light Rail freeing up space for active modes.

      Having NS as Light Rail combined with the Govt’s commitment will also free up most of the Britomart West area for placemaking instead of being a bus terminal.

      1. How difficult would it be to build a bridge from Madden Street to Customs Street West?

        This would keep Light Rail off Fanshawe Street, and significantly reduce the distance from Britomart to Wynyard Quarter.

        The biggest issue I can see, apart from the additional cost, is that there would be significant height restrictions for boats south of the bridge.

        1. Not technically difficult to construct, but that area is privately owned including various private ownership and access rights across the marina and to local properties (i.e. a group of very wealthy lawyered-up land owners down there who are keen on their boats and views and would see a transit line as a slight against their elite privilege).

      2. Harriet if you have LR from the Shore I presume you will have no buses from the Shore. How will people from North Shore get to University and Auckland hospital? I presume by getting on a bus at the terminal at Britomart West

    2. I’d have thought that it’d be better to tunnel under the motorway prior to the bridge, having the LR tunnel exit at the foot of the bridge. Tunneling without disturbing the existing road is possible – They did it for the cycleway at Wellesley St.

      That way LR can run over the central lanes, where the bridge is most likely to be at it’s strongest. Also means that LR can (if need be) share the lanes with general traffic outside of peak periods, just like the bus lane does now.

    3. Could there be a way to make through traffic use WRR instead of the Harbour Bridge if it is not actually going to Auckland? I’m thinking of modern GPS which calculates your route based on the start and end points.

      If both of these are outside Auckland city then the algorithms could be adjusted to send you around rather than through the city. You’d have to run it past the private companies that operate the GPS systems and it may be a step too far in interfering with personal freedoms but it’s just a thought.

      1. Price it!
        Step 1: Toll the motorway network, with extra toll at peak times and no toll overnight.
        Step 2: toll the inner part of the network between Constellation, Mankuau and Waterview at double the rate as the rest.

        1. Wouldn’t that have the unwanted effect of flooding local (untolled) roads? Even if only 10% of drivers decided to chance say Gt Sth Rd instead of SH1 to dodge the toll it’d be hell. And the scheme would be blamed. Doesn’t pricing need to be on all roads in an area at once to get round this problem? After all we built the m’ways in order to relieve these roads…

          1. It’s probably more likely to happen these day too with Google driving directions etc where you can opt to “avoid tolls”, visitors etc would more likely end up on these local roads.

          2. Which of course brings us back to why there are any local parallel roads. Applying the ring road concept to Auckland – without the ‘ring’ geometry, of course – means accessing the local roads from the motorway or major arterial network but blocking all other routes. But only for car and truck traffic – active modes and buses should still have access. I’m seeing more and more benefits to this concept…

  8. A very cool looking bridge for light rail plus walking and cycling.. direct to Wynyard and just tall enough for boats to get under. That would be awesome, especially if it had an iconic tower that you could climb or get an elevator up (for a reasonable fee) from either side for awesome 360 harbour and city views. And $ 1 bn to invest in something else. What’s not to like?

    1. Would like to see all bridge options explored before we commit to a tunnel. If the route of the bridge was shifted to the west to come in across the Westhaven entrance then could continue high above the industrial part of St Mary’s Bay then to an elevated track along Fanshaw before heading underground at the Albert St ridge to pass above the CRL at Victoria street. This would be more acceptable than a viaduct running down the centre of Wynyard Wharf and the Westhaven entrance can be shifted to the west.

  9. Has a study ever been done on whether light rail could be run across the existing bridge? If it was on the East side clip-on it would tie in with a light rail upgrade to the Busway. And because LR lanes are narrower than car lanes, might even gain enough space for a walking or cycling lane as well.
    I know this would reduce vehicle capacity but it would greatly increase the number of people you could move across the bridge.

    1. Believe so NZTA said it can’t go on the clip-ons has to go on the main span.

      However they also said due to egress requirements it would take up more than 1 lane each way meaning HV’s would need to use the clip-ons which is untenable long term.

      We could use the bridge but it would mean we would likely have to build the road crossing sooner costing us more than we save.

      1. Didn’t see your answer before my reply (above) to Heidi. Like Ian, that’s been bugging me too.

        The only part of the answer I’m not happy with is why not restrict heavy traffic to the central lanes only? You’d have one lane LR and one lane HT during peak, with two lanes available for HT and LR off peak. The cars would use the outer lanes during peak.

        I can see a problem with my suggestion – Getting drivers to choose the correct lanes before the bridge. Surely that would only take a few km’s of signage, a lot of initial enforcement and perhaps some ALPR tech for ongoing enforcement, yeah?

      2. That is the long term plan to restrict HV’s to centre span.

        Because you need egress for safety reasons for the Light Rail it means you can’t use the centre span for HV’s however.

        The issue is unlike the motorway corridor where you can shift lanes around a little or do targeted small widening or you can tap into the median / shoulder a little you can’t do this on the bridge.

        1. Hmm – I can understand the safety concerns of passengers mixing with HV, though it’s a concern I hadn’t considered. 🙂

          If we consider the likelihood of an LR vehicle having to stop on the bridge and then model the impact of routing HVs over the outer lanes for a few hours, surely we’d be able to satisfy the safety requirements for both egress and mechanical stability of the bridge?

          The thrust of my thinking is that all eventualities can be planned for and this is no greater risk than operating a tunnel with buses and HVs.

          1. Perhaps it’s just a bridge that shouldn’t have much HV: Eg it’s allowed on the inner spans during the wee hours of the morning and it’s allowed on the outer spans but with a heavy toll, priced to ensure only low volumes will use it – the rest can use the WRR and of course some cargo can be moved on the reinstated HR to Marsden.

            Since the city central design should never have had a motorway dissecting it, we really shouldn’t have to keep planning as if it’s important for HV to move through our CBD on a motorway.

  10. The Northern Busway was designed to be upgradable to Light Rail, so half the infrastructure is already in place.
    I see a faster and cheaper way of upgrading to high capacity public transport in the so called trackless light rail currently being tested in Hunan China.

    https://electrek.co/2017/10/30/trackless-electric-train-china/

    This, according to their promotional material, is capable of climbing the harbour bridge so it could be introduced in relatively short time and as demand grows we can then address the problem of where the next crossing should go.

    1. That tech isn’t new they are called optically guided buses its been tried in Europe and USA and been a disaster in each one.

      I believe both US ones are currently suing the suppliers and the European ones either pulling them out or saying in future we will just do standard BRT or LRT.

      1. Correct Harriet. They turned the technology off in the Las Vegas project. Bologna in Italy was also litigating against their trackless bus supplier. They were never able to pass safety tests.

        1. In test tracks it works perfectly. The problem is that in the real world the optical guidance only has to be slightly obscured by dust, oil, leaves etc on the road surface and it stops the optical scanner working. Hence no authority has been happy to sign off on it being safe and reliable. Google’s autonomous car is going on 360′ scanning with IR, laser and other technologies. I think they also have looked at a small proximity radar.

          1. Also the optical guidance markings wear off the road surface pretty quicky, which I think was the main problem in France. Look at bus lane paint etc at any intersection for an example.

            The cars can’t drive themselves. Not consistently in real world conditions at least, big difference between a test trial and running reliably and economically in service with passengers on board.

    2. Once that sort of system has been in trouble free regular operation on a major urban network for ten years, we should consider it seriously.

      Until then it’s just another of hundreds of dead-end trials that pop up all the time.

      1. But why wouldn’t it work? Isn’t it just a long bus that follows an optical guide in the road? How hard can it be?

        Wouldn’t the implementation cost be incredibly small for the northern busway – just install the optical guide in the road and buy some buses.

        1. Actually its much more budget than I thought – just a sensor at the front of the bus to aid platform side stopping.
          But why not put something in the road (such as a wire that produces an electric field) and have a long bendy bus that follows it? Why not try and use the billions of dollars we have already invested in roads?

          1. I agree – rubber tyred battery trains to the North Shore seems to be a common sense solution. I believe the Chinese train (for example) is 30m long (3 carriages) & weighs 43 tonnes. OK for the bridge centre lanes? Range looks a bit short at present, but I’m sure range (check with Elon Musk) and guidance solutions will be available in the next 5 years. Leader or follower??

          2. Follower please. There has hardly been a transit innovation in the last century that has played out in practice. Why gamble on something untried and untested when we know what we need?

            I’d rather our city just have what works than be lumped with some dead end, unsupported monorail, peoplemover, o-bahn, PRT or whatever system.

          3. ABR syndrome haha….. I remember seeing the trams in Bordeaux a few years ago – very nice to look at, but the cost & inflexibility of all those rails in the ground!! Good to keep an open mind, I think.

            The boundaries between buses, trams & light rail seem to be becoming more blurred by the day. For example – the latest double deckers on the Northern Busway can apparently take about 90 people. The green Chinese rubber tyred train claims 100 people per carriage, 300 in a 3 carriage train of 30m length (does that work? Are they all standing up ??)

            Tried & true? Cheap as chips (relatively) to run a trial of a rubber tyred train on the Northern Busway & over the bridge.

            Iterative process delivers tried & true.

            3 carriages/30 metres/300 pax too big? Run a one or 2 carriage train (100-200 pax) to start with.

            Battery power no good? Provide diesel or hybrid propulsion until all electric technology catches up.

            Guidance systems no good? Provide a driver for semi automated operation in the meantime.

            Once proven, all that will remain is the need to expand the park & ride capacity at the North shore stations… .

            Or get back on the bike….

          4. Trams/trains can carry that many people without being double decker, which slows down loading and unloading significantly.

            Any long guided bus will need the road strengthened underneath it anyway if it is always going to follow the same path and wouldn’t be able to leave the busway out in the suburbs to navigate regular streets. Really hard to see what advantage it has over light rail.

  11. A PT only crossing wouldn’t need a plethora of vehicle lanes either. 2 lanes either way (4 in total) with LR tracks embedded in the deck to allow for capacity growth. I’ve used the Tilikum Crossing in Portland, Oregon as part of their cycling/walking network and can say from direct observation during rush hour that the single lane each way (2 in total) comfortably accommodates LR, tram, and bus traffic with no bunching or queuing. You have to look to the bridges to the north and south to remind yourself that it is rush hour…

    Given properly planned approach corridors a deck incline to accomodate LR and ship height clearances could both be achieved. I also think a modern cable stayed bridge would make a nice attraction to the Auckland skyline.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilikum_Crossing

  12. The bridge is a great idea, along with being cheaper done right it could be an addition to the Auckland skyline and would be a popular tourist LR ride to Takapuna, which would help with off-peak patronage.

  13. And you can build a beautiful bridge for a fraction of the cost. The French built this one for one sixth of the quoted cost of the tunnel.
    http://highestbridges.com/wiki/index.php?title=Millau_Viaduct

    Big road tunnel economics is an exercise in madness. Consider the following examples completed in the past decade, all bankrupt within a few years of opening:
    Sydney Cross City tunnel
    Sydney Lane Cove tunnel
    Brisbane Clem 7 tunnel
    Brisbane Airport Link tunnel

    Or google “Boston Big Dig” for an example of how badly over budget they can get.

    1. The Millau Viaduct is a lovely piece of engineering – If I ever get to France, that’s on my must see list. Such an eye-candy piece of engineering.

    2. I could imagine something like the Millau viaduct across the harbour, say four towers and sets of cables to cross the water, so there is plenty of navigable space for boats but no one tower or span needs to be especially tall or heavy.

      Modern yet graceful with timeless proportions, a future classic!

      1. With the new public awareness of keeping the harbor free from more development I think its highly unlikely that there will ever be another bridge.
        Transit infrastructure needs to be unobtrusive, a north shore tunnel is the only option.

        1. Agree Mike_P – the current furore over the extension of Halsey St Wharf and CCW before it indicates that a new bridge would be far from easy.

          I actually prefer the more understated, PT/walking/cycling bridge at the end of the post. But it would be restrictive for vessels on the harbour. That’s not to say those others are not stunning. Overall, I prefer a tunnel though.

          And admit it. Harbour tunnels are cool. One reason to justify their expense…

        2. There wasn’t much furore about additional Mangere, Upper Harbour or Tauranga Harbour bridges all built in the coastal zone. Bridges are not the same as reclamation.

          The biggest issue would likely be that no design will ever be universally popular, that is where the opposition will come from.

          1. We could have a vote on a design, like for the flag. Might be useful to distract the public from bigger issues sometime. :/

        3. Jezza, maybe you are right and a bridge would be good. However, I think that with the empowering of the objectors to harbour development and their success in preventing further reclamation, that a massive eyesore bridge (no matter how sexy engineers think it is)
          will face serious opposition at all stages of planning.
          I still remember Len Browne on TV saying how the council had listened to objectors over the planned port extensions so now they were only going to proceed with half of the proposal.
          He learned quickly that that was a failure too.
          Another bridge, no way

          1. The situations are a little bit different. I don’t think there was much support at all for the ports reclamation, those objecting had most people who cared on their side.

            A bridge would likely have a mixture of people who passionately supported and those who passionately oppose it and I think it is likely that the Stop Stealing our Harbour group would have people in both camps.

            What landmarks do you first think of with Sydney and San Francisco? They are both engineered bridges.

          2. Why don’t we propose the bridge be walkway spans supported by dolphins anchored to the seabed. Council has just approved that to expand the Queens Wharf into the harbour so apparently that doesn’t count towards “not one more metre”

  14. Yes a Bridge PLEASE: With design featuring a least two “curves” in both Horrizontal and Vertical axis. rail and Bus sounds a plan.

  15. Wait , what , you plan on building something that won’t allow cars???!!!!
    Await the public backlash and amazing NZ herald articles claiming NZ has turned into a communist state
    *(sarc)

  16. I have a different idea. It involves a tunnel, but hear me out as it has a range of benefits based around re-purposing the existing bridge and motorway by Westhaven…

    What about when you head south from the north shore, on SH1 approaching the current harbour bridge, the lanes duck down into a new tunnel and proceed in a more or less straight line under Westhaven, St Mary’s Bay and Victoria Park, emerging to continue south close to the current Victoria Park tunnel northbound entrance?

    Going north this happens in reverse, entering the existing Victoria Park tunnel and popping up a short way beyond the existing harbour bridge, becoming the middle lanes of the motorway. Say three lanes each way, like the current Victoria Park tunnel.

    The existing harbour bridge then allows private vehicle traffic to and from Ponsonby in the outside lane only. Inside that a lane for cycling, and walking. (Or you could swap private vehicles and walking/cycling, so the walkers and cyclists can stop and enjoy the view without cars going past in front of it and then find a way for the vehicles and cyclist/walkers to cross over at the entrances and exits). This replaces the Skypath, with something wider.

    The centre lanes of the bridge become used for light rail and buses.

    The whole motorway at the bottom of the cliffs below the housing of St Mary’s Bay and the bay itself and marina could become a linear park, connecting from Victoria Park to Point Erin Park. Through it would be a corridor for light rail and buses, and cycle routes.

    The CBD traffic connection to the tunnels could be at Fanshawe St, east of Halsey Street. Not sure how many lanes to provide…probably two. Somebody might have to fill me in on how much road is needed after the exit from a tunnel before traffic lights, etc. But I suppose any issues at one of the tunnel exits (CBD or South) can be managed by monitoring and diverting traffic through the other exit.

    Benefits: vehicle provision the same as now (based on the lanes available on the roads at the ends of the tunnels being the same as the lanes in the tunnels), but via a shorter route and with less competition from other vehicles, so really an increase in provision and smoother flow because the numbers of lanes don’t change and there are fewer intersections. St Mary’s Bay would no longer have a motorway affecting all the houses on the cliff with visual and noise pollution. There’d be really great walking and cycling provision right along the waterfront, all the way from both downtown (along the waterfront) and midtown (along the Victoria Street Linear Park) and then over the bridge. The bridge has much less loading than it has had, meaning it should last a lot longer (I assume).

    No doubt there are some aspects that may be technically difficult, but surely not impossible? What do you think: Could it work? Would you want it?

    1. You will face a massive cost issue. Tunnels are about $100 million per lane per km. You are proposing one longer than the current bridge for 4 or 6 lanes. So you are still talking billions.

      And there is the issue of exactly where it comes to ground level and joins the existing road system. Fanshawe Street is busy already. What happens to it if you dump a motorway full of traffic into it? You only move the queue.

      But even if you did all that, the elephant in the room is that it will make little or no difference. If it creates more capacity it will only induce more traffic.

      1. Thanks for your comments. From your response it sounds like I can’t have expressed my idea very clearly. Maybe if I respond to your points I can make it clearer…

        Every harbour crossing would be talking billions, but most have no great package of additional benefits like this suggestion. (With what are you comparing it?)

        Fanshawe Street is busy because it is fed by the motorway already. So you’re not dumping more traffic onto it. (Actually, it could be less because the main purpose of the suggestion is to provide dedicated mass transit and active modes…see below…and above, for that matter!). Anyway, no additional crossing is going to magic more capacity through the city.

        It wouldn’t create more capacity for cars and induce more traffic. It would add no private vehicle lanes (see point about no more capacity at the destination). For cars it would just shorten the route a bit and make things flow a bit better perhaps by not having all the changes in the number of lanes.

        Rather, the key benefit is that it would open up the existing harbour bridge and strip of motorway along St Mary’s Bay to: 1) dedicated light rail and buses, which move a lot more people than cars; 2) walkers and cyclists (more provision than with the Skypath AND connecting via a super-linear-park to midtown and to downtown via the waterfront); PS 3) local traffic to and from Ponsonby can still use the bridge.

  17. Just build it. A LRT bridge sounds good, 30M height out to be plenty high enough without being too high.
    Mucking around with the old bridge with LRT is not going to work with heavy vehicles needing the centre lanes.

    What would the alignment be?

    1. Second bridge – Did I miss something?? A quick Google showed no indication that the Chelsea Sugar Works is going anywhere any time soon. I’m guessing the bulk carriers which currently call at the sugar works probably need most of the 43m clearance under the present bridge.

    1. Logically, the shortest sea route would presumably be the least expensive. This appears to be Ferguson Wharf to Devenport. With heavy rail (or light) the train could connect with the to be expanded to be more useful Strand station, while in the north head up Lake Road to Takapuna and beyond, on a more coastal route than the current busway perhaps. Be it a tunnel or a more multimodally friendly bridge, one kilometre is not so far to reach.

      1. Fergusson Wharf to Devonport would require a very tall bridge with a much longer span to avoid being too steep, so you are talking a tunnel. You then have to consider where the portals are and how the line gets to them.

        I doubt that will be a cheap or effective alignment.

      1. Yes Fergusson Wharf is shorter distance, but Judges Bay is a straighter path running alongside Tamaki Drive, can be joined up to existing rail line if need be and it frees up the land on Fergusson Wharf for other use.

        It would run up towards Devonport past the existing Ferry wharf, through Narrowneck towards Takapuna, then service the rest of the North Shore and the bays north of Takapuna – Milford/Browns Bay/Mairangi Bay/Torbay up towards Orewa even?

  18. Not sure if I’m being devils advocate or thinking outside the square a little but here’s a slight different idea espcially in regards to timing, basically combining older ideas and the new CFN 2. Assumes CRL, Northern Airport & NW LRT line done to Wynyard by this point.
    1. Keep the Northern Busway pretty much as is, but small route & station upgrades as necessary. Implement tagging on/off at stations.
    2. Leap frog over initial upgrading it to LRT to the shore idea by doing point 3:
    3. Do more of higher capacity driverless metro style system via tunnel connecting from Aotea to say as far as Albany initially. ie thinking high speed very grade separated – probably just a high-spec’d LRT with more seats etc. Trench/tunnel where necessary perhaps underground stations but less stations/stops than the busway probably just Onewa, Akoranga, Constellation. I guess wouldn’t surface until Albany then extensions or whatever further north.
    4. Upgrade the busway when & as far as necessary to LRT from city to Takapuna via bridge. This then completes the CFN NW B line.
    5. Upgrade remaining busway when & as far as necessary to LRT from Akoranga north.
    As with CFN 2: Interchange at Onewa Rd meaning many Birkenhead etc buses can just feed to there.
    OK so costly tunnels & underground stations but when the busway is maxed out & we want to upgrade it, at least we now have huge capacity & coverage from Albany to the City.
    Alternatively you could do a more expensive tunnel route to Takapuna first & upgrade existing busway route to LRT after?
    Slightly off topic notes: I think running one physical LRT line from Orewa to the Airport could easily be overloaded as it enters the city from either direction especially if combined with the NW line down Queen St (think there is a lot of latent demand for quality PT & the nicer we make this city the more we will attract people to live here). Initially the NW should go via Ian McKinnon and link with the Queen St line but in the future I think it should have an alternate line somehow that goes down Albert St then connects to back to the other line at Custom St & onto Wynyard Qtr. I would suspect the bus depot in Wynyard being eyed up already for initial LRT stabling etc. Once Stoddard Rd stabling done this could be replaced with higher value development.

    1. How much road reallocation on the bridge would be involved in your busway upgrades? Specifically, can it reduce car volumes sufficiently to revitalise the damaged parts of the CBD?

      1. Probably none, oh I meant to say in step 4 “a NEW LRT/active mode only bridge” for the LRT upgrade to Takapuna. Thinking connect at a new transit interchange at Onewa.
        Hopefully this would prevent or at least greatly delay an additional general traffic bridge or tunnel from ever getting built. Perhaps a new general traffic bridge/tunnel would eventually get built but only to replace the existing AHB.

        1. Actually not sure how you could have a LRT bridge from Wynyard area and get high enough quick enough to clear sufficiently the other side of the wharf or marina without making it ugly underneath for the developments you could put there. It’s probably overkill with the other tunnel idea, so better to join into the same tunnel from Aotea from a shared station on Gaunt St. Would that tunnel need to allow for more than twin tracks? I’m probably going mad, was up late thinking this up the other night & confusing myself!

          Just thinking more about this, my other suggestion of first doing tunnel LRT from Aotea through Wynyard & Onewa to Takapuna is better long term.
          Then upgrade busway & use same physical tunnel between Wynyard & Onewa.

          Anyway the idea is to eventually end up with a the longer running CFN Central Line A from Airport to Orewa Beach but the NW line B is perhaps broken into a higher frequency & faster shorter runner between Takapuna & Aotea but mainly in a tunnel.

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