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RoNS 2.0 (again)

The idea of continuing the Waikato Expressway all the way to Tauranga including a tunnel under the Kaimai Ranges has once again been come up after Transport Minster Simon Bridges suggested the idea has some merit. Now apparently called the Kaimai Connection it is being pushed by a number government MPs from the region.

The Kaimai connection – completing the golden triangle between Waikato and the Bay of Plenty – is being discussed at the highest levels.

On Friday, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said he is encouraged by the idea.

“It is pretty hard to argue against, at least in principle, the idea of carrying it on to some degree to the Bay of Plenty,” said Bridges. “It is a very compelling idea to continue.”

Early in January, Hamilton City Councillor Martin Gallagher and National MP for Taupo Louise Upston called for an expressway between Hamilton and Tauranga to be prioritised.

“Of course, I’m not digging myself into any election promises at this stage, because there is a whole lot of planning and investment required,” Bridges said.

An article on the call by Martin Gallagher and Louise Upston for the road is here.

Another Government MP is supporting the call and he was also calling for it around five years ago

National’s Hamilton East MP, David Bennett agreed it is time to turn concept into reality.

“The next phase for the Waikato is to connect with the Bay of Plenty,” said Bennett. “We have an existing connection, but it certainly can be improved.”

Tauranga is ready for the next step, said Bennett, and by 2020, the Hamilton and Huntly sections of the Waikato Expressway would be complete.

Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this project be raised. Almost exactly a year ago a fourth government MP was saying also the same thing.

A vehicle tunnel under the Kaimai Range needs to be considered with the same weight as a second harbour crossing in Auckland was given, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller says.

 

He included an interesting analogy:

“I look at somebody like Sir Dove-Meyer Robinson. He looked at what Auckland could be “one million people by the turn of the century “and people scoffed at him.

And who was it that did the scoffing and cancelled Dove-Meyer Robinson’s plans again?

Five years ago when David Bennett was suggesting it he was also supported by the truck lobby – although they at least acknowledged it wasn’t something happening soon.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said road transport operators thought a road tunnel could stack up economically within 20 years as freight grew and time and fuel costs were taken into account. “When we look at the future projections, all the modes of transport have to step up. The bulk will go by road. We believe it could well be that in the longer term a road tunnel through the Kaimais would be viable.”

So there’s a lot of support for the idea but does it stack up?

As I understand it the long term strategy from the NZTA is to make SH29 (and SH1) the main route connecting Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland which is in part to get more trips on the Waikato Expressway which is currently being built. That would divert traffic off the SH2 route through the Karangahake Gorge and towns of Paeroa, Waihi and Katikati.

Kaimai Connection

If built as an expressway it would require something to be done about the steep grades on some parts of the road over the Kaimai Range and that’s where the tunnel comes in. Reports from a few years ago suggested the NZTA were looking at a number of tunnel options in three locations,

NZTA regional director Harry Wilson says one option involves building a road tunnel near the existing rail tunnel, another is building a tunnel near Thompsons Track, between Katikati and Apata. The third option, known as a summit-level tunnel, involves building a tunnel half-way up the existing alignment of State Highway 29.

So far 10 options have been identified in these three locations.

“To date, high-level cost estimates indicate the price for each option including approach roading would range from $1.5 to 2 billion,” Mr Wilson said.

“While we are not discounting the possibility of building a tunnel, the early indication from the cost-benefit analysis shows that the cost of building a tunnel could outweigh the benefits of the project.”

I don’t recall ever hearing what option they chose as the preferred one however I have heard the cost could be more than double the $2 billion figure suggested back then. The last statement about the costs outweighing the benefits is likely a massive understatement. The NZTA’s traffic stats indicate that SH29 over the Kaimais has only just reached an average of 10,000 vehicles per day within the last few months.

Kaimai Traffic Volumes

It’s a project that would make the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing’s very weak business case look saintly and that’s with AWHC expected to induce up to 60,000 more vehicles a day to cross the harbour. The SH2 route through Waihi and the Karangahake Gorge just over 8,200 vehicles per day.

Back in 2012 the idea was added to the 2012-22 Government Policy Statement on transport as part of a list of potential future RoNS

28. Possible new routes have been identified through the State highway classification system. This system categorises State highways based on the function they perform, such as moving freight to and from ports or linking major population centres. The classification system provides a national consensus on the role and function of different State highways, and thus the levels of service that can be expected over a 20 year timeframe.

29. Routes that may be considered on this basis for future RoNS include:

  • Hamilton to Tauranga
  • Cambridge to Taupo
  • Napier to Hastings
  • State Highway 1 north and south of the current Christchurch motorway projects.

30. Based on the State highway classification system these four routes have high volumes of traffic, and are important for freight movements including port access.

Interestingly there was no mention of them at all in the 2015-25 GPS.

It seems to me that perhaps a key main reason these MPs are pushing for this project is that the Waikato Expressway will be completed in around four years and they are keen for more money to be poured into the Waikato which has had the second highest per capita spend on transport.

Spending - NZ - 2015 - Per Capita 3

 

 

From driving the route a few times per year I suspect there are a lot of much lower cost improvements that could make a big difference to issues like safety and travel times.

 

107 comments to RoNS 2.0 (again)

  • Bryce P

    If the Waterview tunnels are $1.9B, those indicative costs are dubious, to say the least.

  • Dan C

    Pork barrel politics at its worst.

  • Safety improvements are needed on SH29 such as median barriers for sure but for the rest? Better sunk in double tracking the main rail line to the port (apart from the Kaimai tunnel) and even electrifying it given the increasing amount of freight trains coming to and from Port of Tauranga.

    As for people? Now where did that Inter City train service go….

    • Bruce

      +1. Could electrify from Papakura past Pukekohe down to Frankton and out to Tauranga (and Palmerston North-Papaparaumu) to allow all electric North Island (except for Northern Line).Bring in those intercity trains between Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga as has been posted on here before.

      Do agree that there are other improvements that could be made to both roads without resorting to spending billions on them. Simple things like removing some corners, barriers, better passing lanes should do the trick. If we can get most of the freight onto trains then that reduces the traffic on the road.

      • AND for those who say rail doesnt work? Care to explain why Kiwi Rail and Port of Tauranga are increasing their Metro Port services?

        So how about Government invest where it counts; rail and basic safety improvements on SH29.

      • Bevan

        Electrification of the busiest main trunk lines (AKL to WGN and AKL to TGA) seems appealing from a carbon cost perspective and also resilience against external fuel costs. There are other lines apart from the North Auckland line that would remain non-electrified though. Just to point out freight services on branch lines to Napier-Hastings and New Plymouth which come to mind. There may be others. The line north of Napier-Hastings towards Gisborne is mothballed under the current administration of course, in favour of a couple of extra passing lanes on the adjacent highway…

        • Bruce

          true although those lines aren’t used a lot and likely won’t any time soon (even if upgraded) so probably more cost effective for those ones to remain standard for the time being. Of course if there was a large increase in fuel costs in future/greater incentive to reduce carbon emissions then this might change things.
          Just completing AKL-WLG would simplify so many things for Kiwirail and would speed up freight considerably. Tauranga would be a natural extension of this.

        • Dan C

          That got me thinking, I wonder how the Auckland Metro Rail Electrification cost/benefit stacks up now that diesel is 70c/litre?

        • SDW

          I was under the impression that the gradients of the Raurimu Spiral would basically prevent electrification of the entire NIMTL. Also problems around the Bombays. Anyone know?

          • Mike

            Electric trains are good on steep gradients; the Raurimu Spiral is already electrified; and the NIMT avoids the Bombays by going through Pukekohe and Tuakau – so I’m not sure what any problems could be.

      • Martin B

        Just one issue with this Bruce – The Wellington train network runs on a 1600V DC supply, whilst the rest of the North Island network uses a 25Kv AC supply. The Wellington network would need to be changed to match the rest of the main trunk line. With the investment in the Matangi units, I don’t see this change occurring soon.

        • Mike

          A cheaper option would be new multi-current rolling stock for inter-regional services into/out of Wellington, as is commonplace in Europe and the USA – but I can’t see anything like that happening anytime soon, either.

        • Not strictly true Martin. They manage in Europe to have (hundreds of) cross-border trains between, for example France and Germany. These countries operate on different electrification systems & voltages. The locomotives that haul the trains don’t get changed though – they’re just built to automatically handle more than one electrical system.
          Totally agree with the sentiment of electrifying the rest of the Main Trunk & to Tauranga. Spin-off benefit of this (for Kiwirail) being that some of the ancient relic diesel locomotives could at long last be retired, and the newer ones moved to the secondary lines.

      • William Henry

        From memory I think the reason that the electrification stopped at Hamilton was the cost and complication of crossing the Meremere swamp. Very long and very unstable.

        • Mike

          The NIMT electrification was to improve performance over the hilly and tortuous section through the central North Island, and it terminated at Te Rapa because that was the main operational centre at the northern end and the junction with the Eat Coast Main Trunk. I don’t think that there has ever been any serious consideration of extending it north of Te Rapa (there would have been little point unless it continued to Auckland, and that was not on the agenda), so crossing the swamp was not an issue.

          • NIMT electrification was also about energy security, remember the oil crisis of the 70s?

          • Mike

            The oil shocks were certainly influential, but if energy security had been a primary aim of the electrification it would have gone all the way from Auckland to Wellington rather than have its energy-secure route completely reliant on energy-insecure sections at both ends.

          • Gibbo

            The swap is 8km of single track as well, so you’d want to double track it and that might be a very big money hole

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            Formation-work for double-tracking across the swamp was done some time in the past and is still visible in places today. It may not be too difficult to re-activate this work and double-track the section

  • Simon

    These people are like poor darts players. It’s pure luck of they hit anything of real value. It had better take more than some rah-rah from no-name MPs to even get a project like this on to the drawing board.

    An on a related note. With future predictions of driverless cars in vogue, where is the analysis of the speed of erosion of the land transport fund. I assume any step change like introduction of driverless will be preceded by the much simpler change to electrics. With fuel prices low, but especially if we’re no longer buying liquid fuels, the tax base for maintaining the network let alone building massive new road infrastructure is in serious jeopardy. So how will this all work?

    • The EV exemption from paying road user charges currently expires in 2018, after that date they’ll be paying by the kilometre, just like every other car that doesn’t use petrol. There’s no reason to think driverless cars will travel any less distance than driven cars, and may travel significantly more.

      • Trundler

        Yes, but driverless cars (or cars on auto-pilot more likely) won’t get frightened at the thought of going over a little hill and they are less likely to crash in the process. Also EV cars and trucks will harvest a lot of the extra energy they use on the way up the hill with regen during decent the other side. Therefore the only benefit of a tunnel for road traffic in 10 years time will be that it will be slightly quicker, but is that journey that time sensitive?

      • EVs are RUC exempt until June 2020, and if takeup remain moribund I would expect to see it extended again

  • William Henry

    There is an underground river that flows through the Kaimai’s and anyone with a long enough memory will remember that when the rail tunnel was built they hit the river and nearly had to abandon the project. (Check newspaper reports around that time) The road over the Kaimais is vastly different to what it was like a few years ago and takes only a few minutes to summit from the western side.

    • Stuart Donovan

      Interesting. This document from the IPENZ website discusses the complex geology encountered during tuneling of the rail tunnel, which took 9 years to complete.

      https://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/documents/The%20Kaimai%20Railway%20Tunnel%20(650%20KB).pdf

    • Stuart Donovan

      And this article was also interesting: https://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/documents/Hegan,%20Kaimai%20Tunnel,%202003%20(5MB).pdf

      Mentions permeability of 10^-5 m per second, which seems about right for semi-fractured basalt (at least according to this website: http://www.aqtesolv.com/aquifer-tests/aquifer_properties.htm), but then again I’m not a hydrologist :).

    • Greg N

      This and the 2 Lake Manapouri tunnels (original and tunnel expansion) to Deep Cove were probably the most difficult tunnelling projects undertaken in NZ in the last 70+ years.

      All 3 projects cost way more than was ever anticipated, had major problems with collapsing during construction and made the governments of day gun-shy of doing any more tunnelling ever. Hence why so few have been constructed since.

      So why are we even considering tunnelling a pair of road tunnels here – fire safety rules would dictate two separate tunnels – one for each direction, with interlinked passages ala WRR – not one big tunnel like you could get away with in the old days.

      So the cost is doubled from whatever figure you pull out of your hat.

      WRR was bored in mud and soft rock, not old lave flows to keep the cost down. No chance doing that here. You’re in the worst possible type of rock.

      KR has trouble with the existing rail tunnels due to water in the tunnels meaning it needs maintenance, imagine the cost of maintaining two bored road tunnels – way more than a rail tunnel.

      And you’d have to expect this tunnel would be tolled as well, so the existing “free” alternative would remain.
      So why even go there?

      Its not like its the only thing we can spend our money on after all.

      • Gary Young

        The point about maintenance is a good one and it is invariably overlooked or ignored by roading enthusiasts.

        Cost is never solely about the actual construction. Once the road exists it will continue indefinitely to be an expense for taxpayers and ratepayers.

        • The maintenance costs are now potentially actually much higher for new road tunnels, particularly those that aren’t located in cities. Fire life safety is an area where compromise on a new structure is not palatable, since the explanation that a bus load of kids died in a tunnel fire (almost always the example used) was due to keeping costs down is just about impossible to justify. Existing tunnels are grandfathered such that this kind of thing can be ignored to some extent.

          So the initial considerations include the cross passages with heavy duty fire doors, emergency phones, emergency lighting, smoke extraction systems, and sprinkler systems/fire suppression. These all need to be regularly tested and maintained. To meet the current best standards for fire-life safety there is also the requirement to have trained first responders close at hand, this would basically require a fire department to be established essentially at at least one of the tunnel portals with trained staff that will now sit around and wait. This is a team that may not see any action year to year, but will need to be paid on an ongoing basis for the life of the tunnel.

  • Don

    No sign of double tracking the Kaimai rail tunnel, so KiwiRail’s freight operations can be significantly increased.
    This will become very important when and if Auckland Council gives up on its investment in Auckland as a major port, and Tauranga takes the majority of imports and exports for Auckland.

  • George D

    Stop being negative nancies… The Minister says it’s a “very compelling idea” and that’s all the evidence we and the NZTA need.

    • To be honest I wonder if his statements are just playing to the electorate. I suspect Bridges knows it’s a project that can’t be justified and saying he likes an idea and doing anything something about it are quite different

  • “It’s a pretty hard idea to argue against… It is a very compelling idea.”

    No, it is an easy idea to argue against, Mr Bridges. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? If not then it is a bad idea, and the money would be better spent elsewhere or not spent at all.

    Government transport policy is straight out tax and spend. Why aren’t they being called out on it?

    • There is a powerful but unexamined idea out there in the public’s head that exempts road building from even the slightest analysis. It seems to have two parts; somehow the money used is free, and the value of every, any, new road is, a priori, so high as to be all but infinite.

      Nat MPs from the the Shore to the provinces will run around promising every bit of paving they can think of as in this field alone do they get a free pass from the relationship between spending and taxing, and their Lab competitors will leap on board too.

      Roading is in a fairly mature phase in NZ now, all new schemes are duplicates, this seriously affects real actual value; they just can’t change that much. There will of course be opportunities for improvements and upgrades, and sometime whole new routes, but the nature of these almost certainly cannot be transformative. Add in the externalities and the uncertainty about future demand and the opportunity costs this all in bet on driving represents and there is so much more cause for caution than is being currently exhibited.

      We will wake from this dozy period with a serious headache. Like Australia and their daft double-down on fossil fuels: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/climate-change-and-confusing-economic-activity-with-economic-prosperity-20160114-gm6ess#ixzz3xJt3o6zk

  • Stephen

    Tunneling through the Kaimai’s is not going to be easy. The rock is unstable at best. I know that TBMs have come a long way since the rail tunnel was built but its not going to be cheap. If they did a base line tunnel i would guess $3 – $3.5 Billion if they went up a bit first $2.5 Billion. Either way its a lot more than the quoted amounts.

    I don’t see this project ever being worth it. The best option from the perspective of safety and freight is double track the rail link between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

    And yes I know the extra volume of freight is going to have an impact on people living in Tauranga (I have family by the tracks) but its a lot better than the lives lost by truck vs. car incidents.

  • Spending billions to get freight off the rail line and onto trucks is daft from any perspective except for those directly benefiting from the change in business. More freight on the roads means more death and injury and more traffic congestion, especially in the cities at each end of these routes; AKL, TAU, HAM.

    Maximising the productivity of the existing additional Right of Way, the rail network, is the sensible way to accommodate freight demand growth and relieve existing driving routes. Both Karangahape Gorge and the the Kaimais are great drives.

    Tiny sums have been found to make huge capacity and performance improvements to our sadly neglected rail network on this route:

    http://www.kiwirail.co.nz/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=140&cntnt01returnid=101

    And work is ongoing on the tunnel itself, the first since it was built:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11317645

  • Steve Withers

    I usually go to Tauranga through the Karangahake Gorge. I like Paehia. I like Waihi. I like Ngatea. I like the rest stop in the Gorge.

    I used to do the route over the Kaimais, but it sees me arrive at the ‘wrong’ end of Tauranga – and a long, slow crawl along Cameron Rd (often choked at Greerton) and I don’t like the road over the hills. So a lower level of usage on this route might reflect its present state rather than the level of traffic in an improved state.

    I’d go there by train in a heartbeat if it was possible.

  • James

    Hang on – didn’t all of NZ get to vote recently – I guess there are a lot of people in NZ that like the RONS.

    • Stuart Donovan

      surveys show more NZers support increased investment in public transport than highways.

      P.s. I don’t think election results are the best guide to people’s views on transport issues, which do not tend to influence people’s voting patterns in central government elections.

    • That’s like saying people voted for pony tailing pulling at the last election.

      • James

        You didn’t? I have read this blog state that a vote for Len Brown was a vote for the CRL. The same logic can be applied to National and the RONS.

        • No Phil, people vote at national elections primarily on issues like the economy, health, education and to a lesser extent welfare. Transport is way down the priority list.

          By comparison at local elections people vote on transport policy to a much larger degree, it’s usually the number one or two issue with the other main one being rates.

      • James

        With Brent crude at $28.00 a barrel there will be much more road investment in the future. Forget Peak Oil, how about Peak PT

    • John Polkinghorne

      Transport is several per cent of the total government budget. It’s more like half the budget for councils.

      • John Polkinghorne

        Actually, looking a bit closer, half is probably a bit exaggerated. Probably more like a third. Even so, transport would be a much bigger influence during council elections than general ones.

    • Steve Withers

      They voted National. The vast majority would never have heard of the RoNs (or detail of most other National policies).

      • It is true the RoNS are popular especially in the heartlands, so it’s interesting they didn’t campaign on the idea while in opposition. The programme was announced after the election was won. But obviously for the two subsequent elections it was ongoing policy.

  • nonsense

    ah yes sorry you are right. Can we still talk about the flag or are the All Blacks the only allowed topic?

  • Alex F

    SH1/29 between Cambridge and Tauranga is fine – there are no towns along this route and it’s reasonably straight with few corners up until Te Poi. The mountain pass isn’t that bad either. Realistically we don’t need a massive expensive road tunnel nor even dual carriage along the entire corridor (except slow lanes for the uphill ascents over the Kaimai Range). What is most necessary is an upgrade on the SH1/SH29 intersection and also of significance the intersections of SH 29 with SH 27, 24 and 28.

    • Bryan

      I read a story in the Waikato Times over the New Year, where the local politicians were pushing for the newly opened Cambridge Expressway to be extended 16km to the Tauranga turnoff. That one I could understand, as it seems safer to end a dual carriageway at a major junction, than in the middle of nowhere, and would benefit southbound traffic too.

      But tunneling through the Kaimais is just plain daft.

      • Nicholas O'Kane

        Yes, I do think of the “future RONS” two did make sense. Upgrading the Napier – Hastings Expressway and also extending the Waikato Expressway to Tirau (my own preference is just South of Putararu bypassing both Tirau and Putararu) and extending to the SH1/SH29 junction is a good first step on the later

      • Bryce P

        A 2+1 divided road is all that is required for current and future projected traffic volumes. Fix the intersections to reduce risk. 90% fix for 50% of the cost.

  • Rich

    I bet they could they double track and electrify all the way to Tauranga for that amount of money.

  • Angus Robertson

    The Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park is a significant bush remnant, bisected by a commuter highway. If we get rid of the highway we will create a better natural environment.

    • But that never happens; new roads are additional not replacements.

      • Especially as dangerous goods like fuel tankers aren’t likely to be allowed through a tunnel like that. They are in VPT in Auckland only because they’ve got expensive for systems

        • Bryce P

          And, if I recall correctly, they’re not allowed through the Waterview tunnels once open.

          • Mike

            Vehicles carrying dangerous goods are allowed through the Victoria Park tunnel, though, so their prohibition in tunnels isn’t absolute.

          • Mike – no not absolute but as I said very expensive for the systems that are needed in case anything happened. VPT is unique in that it is short and there isn’t really an alternative i.e. we don’t want these trucks coming off at Nelson St and traipsing through the CBD.

    • jezza

      The highway also gives valuable access to tramping tracks at the southern end of the Kaimai’s so it could be argued it adds rather than detracts from the Forest Park.

  • nonsense

    it’s also going to be 30km longer than the Paeroa option, coming from Auckland. Needs to be much faster to beat that

  • This isn’t going to happen, but it’s great politics for the MPs in the region to be vaguely positive about it and pretending it’s a viable option…

    • Donald Neal

      The politics is not that simple. The primary purpose of a road tunnel would be to allow truckies to try to compete with unit trains between the Tainui-owned inland port at Ruakura and the Port of Tauranga. Has any politician close to Tainui a good word to say about the idea?

  • Nigel Owen

    “It is pretty hard to argue against, at least in principle, the idea of carrying it on to some degree to the Bay of Plenty,” said Bridges. “It is a very compelling idea to continue.”

    What principle is Simon Bridges referring to? Roads are good, rail is bad?

    What is so compelling about spending somewhere in the region of 2-4 Billion just for the tunnel, let alone the rest of the road?

  • Matthew

    So having spent all our tax dollars on multiple bypasses of Hamilton, they now want to reconnect it? Personal opinion of the polluting farmers’ capital, as far as I can tell the current roading system is more than adequate. If they are willing to invest in railway and take trucks off the highways, perhaps they would have a stronger case. Unfortunately, as with everything this government has done during its tenure, this is another visionless short term solution to a problem that does not exist. Meanwhile our bike paths are second or third class, but for some reason motor vehicles deserve smooth surfaces. Given that bicycle suspension is considerably less advanced than vehicle suspension, there is no sense, unless you take in to account the amount of money that changes hands between oil companies and car dealers and governments and the odd arms dealer. Can we build some more mountain bike trails, those things are magnificent and a universal good. Driving is so last millenium…

  • luke

    how much would it cost to build a second rail tunnel thru the kaimais,a billion?

    • Nigel Owen

      I’m wondering if double tracking everything except the tunnel and its approaches would create enough capacity that we wouldn’t need to worry about a second tunnel for some time?

      • TheBigWheel

        Excellent idea++

        Short-ish sections of single track lines aren’t an impediment to efficient freight or passenger rail operations.

        Rather than working out how to spend billions to get freight off rail and on to roads that don’t exist, we should be prioritising incremental improvements to both rail and roads to deliver the outcomes people and businesses want: safety, efficiency, speed, capacity, convenience, environmental benefits etc.

  • Mike

    Can we give due respect to Sir Dove-Myer Robinson by spelling his name correctly, please?

    • Greg N

      Sure.

      But Matt was quoting an excerpt from the linked article in the BOP Times a year back, which was the source of that quote which misspelled his name.

      A best Matt should have put a “[sic]” in quotes after the misspelling to make it clear it was wrong in the original comment.

      • Mike

        Agreed about the quote – what MPs say can’t always be taken as gospel, but what they’ve said, they’ve said – but I was actually referring to the spelling used in the post below the reference rather than in the reference itself (though I didn’t make that clear).

        We should all be honouring the patron saint of urban rail in Auckland!

  • The Real Matthew

    I’m all for the strategy to channel AKL-Tauranga traffic down the Waikato Bypass and across – that makes sense. But tunneling through the Kaimai Ranges? They must be crazy.

    • Nicholas O'Kane

      Only problem is the route to Tauranga is longer via the Waikato Expressway than the current SH2 route, and could be so for some time

      • Alex F

        In fact the shortest route currently from Auckland-Tauranga is via SH 27, 24 and 29

        • Peter H

          Yes you may be right about shortest distance (19 km shorter), but actual travel time could be faster using the Waikato expressway from 2020.
          http://hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/?s=Tauranga
          Now let’s THINK. Is the destination central Tauranga? What does the future look like with more trucks and cars through the center of Tauranga?

          • Alex F

            Distance wise there isn’t much difference between going via Matamata or via Waihi, but most certainly the quickest route will be via the Waikato Expressway once complete. In fact I believe the western bypass of Hamilton (SH 39) will be useless once complete too.

  • KLK

    If we ever do stop building these monstrosities I am sure there will be jobs overseas from the engineers at NZTA coming up with and implementing these challenging projects……Or is that the idea?

  • Steve Cable

    “with AWHC expected to induce up to 60,000 more vehicles a day to cross the harbour” really, induced traffic should be on the COST side of the equation, not the benefit

    • My_exact_point. The whole economic evaluation process for transport investment ignores the fact of Induced Traffic. This issue alone kills the AWHC as currently designed.

      • Mike

        That’s tied in with the emphasis on improving mobility and maintaining flow, where increased travel is seen as a Good Thing; but they are largely pointless in themselves, what really matters being accessibility, the ability to be able tp get to where you wamt to get to.

  • Mr Plod

    Anyone driven to New Plymouth over Mt Messenger recently? I’m surprised a Taranaki MP hasn’t called for that hill to be road tunnelled ahead of the Kaimais.

  • Harriet

    RONS 3.0 Cook Strait Tunnel (Rail Future Proofed >:D )

    • Warren S

      Goodness me!! I get a great laugh out of this blog………………………..or I would if only the government transport decision making was not so poor or out of date………………and when that hits home I end up absolutely aghast at their short term thinking and stupidity.

    • Alex F

      RONS 4.0 Causeway from New Zealand to Australia!

  • I am just reminded of Winston Peters comment that ‘Tauranga needs Tunnels not Bridges’.

    I would support a tunnel through the Kaimai ranges because of the number of accidents on the road particularly the steeper slopes.

    I would love to see a fast electric passenger train service from Auckland to Tauranga but do not expect to see it any time soon. The last time I took the Auckland Tauranga train it took over 3.5 hours and was not surprised it cancelled because it was uneconomic.

    If a road Kaimai tunnel is built then a Rimutaka road tunnel must not be far behind

  • Jamie Walton

    A Napier-Hastings RONS (motorway)? – there’s already one of those, I recall driving on it a few years ago (it’s the northern part of SH50).

    Do they mean a second Napier-Hastings motorway (e.g., making SH2 into an east-side motorway to parallel the existing SH50 motorway on the west-side)?

    • Alex F

      Yeah, there is the Hawkes Bay Expressway which is a single carriage road (not really an expressway nor a motorway) from Meeanee Quay in Napier to Pakipaki Road south of Hastings. It has not one, but three state highway designations, 2B, 50 and 50A. Meanwhile NZTA has for some reason decided to hold onto the existing SH 2 route via Marine Parade and Clive which has a 7km section through Hastings completely revoked and doesn’t start again until it reaches the southern section of the expressway!

      All that is really needed is to move SH 2 to the expressway

  • john smith

    At typical discount rates (say 7 per cent over 20 years) an upfront capital expense is equivalent to a daily expense of about 1/5,000 of the up front amount.

    So spending $2 billion on a tunnel is roughly like spending $400,000 per day. At 10,000 vehicles per day, you would need a toll of $40 to pay for it.

    If the motorists aren’t willing to pay that, it’s a good sign that the project is not economically sound (on a rural route like this external benefits would probably be minimal).

  • A partial tunnel as least is required SH2 is now at grid lock point not to mention the unhealthy state for the small town of Katikati with all the trucks trundling through ,because they don’t want to drive over the Kaimai hill.the road and tunnel could go over Thompsons Track with maybe only a partial tunnel , Thompsons track is the narrowest and the lowest point of the Kaimais which takes you over to Hwy 27/25, which make those roads busier of course. Cost, a big company should be brought in from Aussie to do the job and it would be a toll rd, that is reality of a growing population.
    The other thing over here BOP is there should be train unit (diesel preferably electrical) from Apata( near kati) to downtown TAuranga for people to travel on this would get cars off SH2.

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