Harbour Crossing Move


The next step has been taken today to progress whether we get another harbour bridge across the Waitemata  - or a tunnel, as Auckland local body leaders collectively chose last year.

NZTA has appointed professional advisers who will carry out an “independent evaluation of options for an additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing.”

Three separate evaluations will assess the business case for either a bridge or tunnels between the Wynyard Quarter west of Auckland’s CBD and Esmonde Road on the North Shore.

The hopeful news for rail users with an eye to an eventual North Shore train service is that it’s a joint NZTA and KiwiRail project but there continue to be very fuzzy signals as to whether rail would be guaranteed a place in the new crossing.

When completed, the advisers are tasked with providing “more exact information so that the NZTA, KiwiRail and the Government can make decisions about the options and timing of the crossing with more certainty,” , says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker.

The evaluations have been commissioned under three separate contracts:

  • Engineering and Planning: includes the type of crossing – bridge, tunnel or tunnels; connections with North Shore and Auckland; timing of construction. [awarded to Beca and AECOM]
  • Transportation Modelling: includes what types of transport can use the crossing; travel times; tolling [awarded to Sinclair Knight Merz and Flow Transportation Specialists]
  • Economic Justification: includes timing of project; funding; economic benefits for Auckland/New Zealand [awarded to PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER)]

In a consensus unusual for Auckland, mayors and local body leaders had all opted for the tunnel option after examining a multitude of options discussed with the NZTA - but when transport minister Steven Joyce came into office, he has refused to buy into the tunnel option without further pursuing whether another bridge should be built instead.

The NZTA recently moved to protect a route for the additional crossing with the lodgement of Notices of Requirement with Auckland and North Shore City Councils.

Those Notices refer specifically to tunnels - because that was what the previous Transit Agency, Auckand, North Shore councils, ARC and ARTA had agreed.

However, if this changes to a bridge, a bridge is not precluded from that move to protect the route.

A newspaper article this week claimed the minister was now favouring the proposal put forward by lobbyists wanting a bridge to commemorate Anzac - a two-tier, multi-modal harbour bridge to be opened in 2015.

That new, 3.3 kilometre-long bridge between Onewa Rd on the northern side of the harbour and Wynyard Point on the southern side would include a two-tiered deck, with general and heavy traffic lanes, space for rail lanes, as well as pedestrian and cycle access. It was proposed the bridge would use a cable-stayed design, principally due to proven economic and construction advantages.

Whatever happens, a new crossing is at least a decade away from starting construction.

NZTA’s Tommy Parker today confirmed that an additional crossing is not included in the NZTA’s current 10-year State Highways Programme for funding.

“However, it is important to plan for the future and use the opportunity we have now to evaluate and select the best option – whether it is tunnels or a bridge. We need another crossing that together with the Auckland Harbour Bridge will meet increasing volumes of traffic that are inevitable as Auckland continues to grow,” he says.

In December, Mr Joyce said: “It is my current expectation that construction will largely occur in the second half of the twenty year period.” In other words after 2020. And he has stuck to that.

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.”

The transport minister says building a third harbour crossing will be a key transport priority for the government in the to-be-released 20-year infrastructure plan. (Mr Parker confirmed today that the options for the additional crossing will indeed be included in the Government’s National 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,” said the minister, yet to make it clear whether public transport means rail as well as buses.”

So what would happen to the present bridge?

Mr Parker says he expects that that a new crossing will be the direct motorway link across the harbour, and the present  harbour bridge could serve local traffic, with dedicated lanes for public transport, cyclists and walkers.

“These are the issues we will be evaluating over the coming months,” he adds. “The development of a robust business case is critical so that the best decision can be made to deliver a transport project that Aucklanders can be proud of, and help their city grow.”

Mr Parker says that together, the additional crossing and the harbour bridge will improve transport security for Aucklanders.  The risk of a shutdown because of an emergency like a crash is reduced with the two links, and people also have a greater transport choice to get across the harbour.

The day defiant Aucklanders walked the bridge in protest

The evaluation studies are due for completion by the end of the year.

A team of international specialists will also be appointed over the coming month to peer-review and test the findings and recommendations of the evaluations.




  1. Matt L says:

    The Auckland region (with the exception of the bridge idiots) wants tunnels so of course a bridge will be built. It would also be a cut down version to save a few dollars and we will end up no better off than we are now. All that would have changed is a few private contractors would have been paid billions in fees to build it.

    There is also no way the residents of Herne bay will let the existing motorway land be developed, they want a park on the land and won’t want their views threatened by buildings there.

    We should build a rail crossing first and convert the busway, with a direct link, trains from Albany will be in town with 20 mins and that will help to reduce pressure on the bridge as it would be significantly quicker than driving. If we are really smart we will design it so we can just keep on digging after the CBD tunnel is built.

  2. Kurt says:

    Our current harbour bridge is the perfect monument and tribute to how wrong Auckland’s planners got it because they took the cheap option. I would hate to think how much this structure costs to maintain a year.

    Unless a replacement bridge is level like the Sydney Harbour Bridge then we will recreate all the mistakes of the past, namely anti pedestrian and cyclist and almost impossible for rail.

    Of course such a bridge in the current location will never happen unless St Marys Bay and Ponsonby become a new motorway link. And trying to create one elsewhere is even less likely and prohibitively expensive.

    The only option is a tunnel and please DO NOT get it so wrong this time by leaving out the rail/pedestrian/cycle lane component.

  3. ingolfson says:

    “In a consensus unusual for Auckland, mayors and local body leaders had all opted for the tunnel option after examining a multitude of options discussed with the NZTA – but when transport minister Steven Joyce came into office, he has refused to buy into the tunnel option without further pursuing whether another bridge should be built instead.”

    And this is the same government that complains about Auckland never speaking with one voice, and forced us into a SuperCity. As soon as Auckland makes a choice Wellington doesn’t agree with, “more research required” becomes the order of the day. I don’t even see how this study can come out in Joyce’s favour without bending the arguments so harshly the words will break.

    I mean - all you have to go back to is a study from the year before which will contradict all they could say in favour of a bridge!

  4. Eric says:

    To be fair a new stand alone bridge was never included as an option in the last study done. The new bridge they propose does look pretty cool though, but I just have to say no to the demolition of the harbour bridge. Is has been part of Auckland for over 50 years! Right now though I’m going to go with the tunnel option.

  5. DanC says:

    So much money has been spent on studying the options. One option was chosen to be the best. Now after a lot of tax payers money has been spent on studies Mr Joyce wants to spend more money on studies. He’s quite against the tunnel idea I think. But that’s the best option? Keep the bridge and have four lanes of traffic on it with the cycle / walkway underneath. Have the tunnels like option 2c. Heavy rail to the shore. Albany to the airport on the train? I hope I see it one day.

  6. jarbury says:

    I don’t know why we even bother with NZTA and local government, when Steven Joyce just over-rides them all the time to do what his trucking buddies and crazy bridge buddies want.

  7. cam says:

    Exactly it’s obvious Joyce wants a bridge and that’s why we are doing this all over again.

    @Eric a bridge was compared to a tunnel in the last study and rejected because of the detrimental effect it would have on the tank farm area as it would run right through it (this is the same for the new anzac bridge). The whole reason for this project is to have a secind crossing. Under the bridge proposal we would still be left with just one.

  8. Rationale says:

    I think I read over the weekend that Joyce wants or has ordered another study of the issue. That’ll mean effectively that he won’t need to make a decision in his time.

  9. ingolfson says:

    He HAS made the decision to spend millions on re-studying the same matter that was already settled, and has ensured that the Wynyard Quarter development will now be uncertain again. Want to invest into a property there? Maybe not - Joyce might build a motorway 50m above your head!

  10. Jon C says:

    @Rationale That is what this is post is about. This is the details of the study he has ordered.

  11. If one considers what the greatest strength Auckland and NZ have, it is the natural environment. A simple deduction then follows that a tunnel is the best option. It doesn’t make sense therefore except in the minds of politicians to create built ‘icons’ like bridges in our oustanding landscape. I would support increasing the tunnel to accomodate scrapping the current bridge. Imagine how the harbour and surrounding landscape would ‘breathe’ when that cheap coathanger is removed. A beautiful unified harbour, with the ‘north/south/east/west of the bridge’ menatality gone, would be an outsanding symbol of a unified Auckland.

  12. Kelvin says:

    Richard, spot on mate. The coathanger was built in a time when Auckland had a severe ID crisis and tried to hard to emmulate Sydney. Now finally it has a chance to be defined as its own (which really it should have been in the first place). Take the coathanger and the wharf sheds to MOTAT - a transport and heritage musuem and lets move into the future with Auckland dressing itself for a change.

  13. Thanks Kelvin. Knowing a little about design processes Im not greatly concerned about the effect a tunnel might have on Wynyard Point. The moves being undertaken in the current undergrounding below Vic Park will no doubt be set at levels that anticipate a future tunnel connection. In general although Civil Engineers march to a different aesthtic tune from the rest of us, they’re normally pretty good at long term strategic planning.

  14. max says:

    “would ‘breathe’ when that cheap coathanger is removed.”

    It would be BO-RING (and if one wants to see human-unmodified landscapes, there’s enough other places like that in New Zealand, and most tourists do go there, so no need to fake an untouched landscape in Auckland). Furthermore, we would have no cycling and walking connections in a sole tunnel arrangements, perpetuating our past stupidity / crimes against active transport.

    We should have at least one bridge - I just don’t want to see it ruin Wynyard quarter.

  15. kano says:

    I’d much rather walk, cycle take a train or drive a car over the harbour than under it. I like the ANZAC bridge idea, how boring a tunnel would be. It could become an amazing Auckland icon in the same vein as the Opera house is for Sydney or like the Millau Viaduct is in France. No one can say that about a concrete tunnel. This is Aucklands oportunity for its own London Bridge or Golden Gate bridge. Build a bridge and get over it.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>