Steven: May Not Be Tunnel, Present Bridge Safe


Steven Joyce says he has not yet formed a view on whether a tunnel or a bridge is mostclosed appropriate for Auckland’s next crossing.

NZTA today revealed it favours a tunnel but the minister of transport says he has not yet made up his mind.

As to when we might start work on something, the minister  said: “It is my current expectation that construction will largely occur in the second half of the twenty year period.”

He’s satisfied that the NZTA is monitoring the situation closely to ensure the existing Harbour Bridge remains a strong, safe and viable link into the future.  “Regular and routine maintenance will ensure this continues to be the case.

“In parallel to this, planning is now moving up a gear for the third harbour crossing which will in time relieve much of the pressure on the existing harbour bridge.”

The transport minister says building a third harbour crossing will be a key transport priority for the government in the soon-to-be-released 20-year infrastructure plan.

“It’s my expectation that the third harbour crossing will increase the number of lanes across the harbour and also allow for public transport corridors and walking and cycling.”

Among other reaction: The Auckland Business Forum Chairman Michael Barnett called for urgent moves in the light of the NZTA revelations and says Auckland needs a firm work programme as soon as possible.

“We need to stop procrastinating. We need to get our funding options sorted and get on with it. Like any second hand car, the bridge repair bills are getting to a point where we must look at a replacement as soon as possible”.Mr Barnett thinks today’s news doesn’t portray Auckland as a forward-looking region that plans strategically for the needs of a growing city and its commercial and freight traffic.

The group calling for construction of the new bridge to begin by 2015, to commemorate the ANZAC Day centenary,  pushed for a bridge.

“A bridge would be significantly cheaper than a tunnel and only a bridge could be an iconic structure for Auckland,” said spokesman Richard Simpson. “What’s more, our concept design for the ANZAC Centenary Bridge would carry more cars and trucks than the alternative - a combination of the existing bridge and a tunnel - and would provide for rail, cyclists and pedestrians. It is undoubtedly the best option in economic, environmental, and social terms.”

The ANZAC Centenary Bridge Group consists of a number of local companies, including NZ Steel, Mainzeal, Aspec Properties, Davis Langdon, and Jasmax. The concept  has been endorsed by organisations such as the Returned Services’ Association, the Heavy Engineering Research Association and Heart of the City, and it says it has received guidance on financial and technical matters from leading international consulting firms.

Simpson says people “will only support a tunnel if they don’t have any details about cost or capacity. As soon as they receive facts, they change their mind.”

But  the NZTA said today a tunnel was estimated to be around $600m cheaper than a bridge, which was estimated to be around $3b but the agency emphasised it was difficult to be precise at this stage. It did say an advantage with a tunnel is that parts could be built separately at different times, such as a road then rail tunnel whereas a bridge needed to have all components in the one structure. The estimates were based on NZTA’s preferred Tank Farm, Esmonde Rd alignment.




  1. rtc says:

    For once I agree with Joyce in that construction shouldn’t start on anything for around 15 years - that way we’ll have seen the back of Joyce and any crossng will likely be highly skewed towards rail.


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