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AWHC: Where Does all the New Traffic Go?

The Additional Harbour Crossing as currently proposed is a pair of tunnels containing six traffic lanes between the motorway at Esmonde Rd rejoining it at Spaghetti Junction [The CMJ] in the city. The publicly available schemes also show additional rail tunnels between Akoranga and Wynyard Quarter, but no connecting network for any trains to actually use. It is clear to see the appeal for NZTA of straightening and simplifying SH1 past the bridge, but the outcomes for the city are much less certain. Below for example is version T1:

AWHC T1

Clearly this or the other versions that date from 2010 are not the current versions NZTA are developing now, but until new versions are released these are still worth looking at in some detail as neither the various physical constraints or the overall aims that drive these options have changed. The options can be seen here.

Considering these there are several high altitude observations I think are important to begin with:

  • This will be the most expensive urban transport project ever undertaken in NZ; claimed to be $4-$6 billion. Two to three times the cost of the CRL.
  • Not least because of the massive cost it is extremely unlikely that both sets of tunnels and systems would be undertaken at the same time. They will be staged; one will precede the other.
  • The road scheme is essentially a SH1 bridge bypass, and therefore optimises through traffic, however it does not make any new connection that is not currently available nor in fact any increase in capacity on SH1.
  • There is little spare capacity in the CMJ for additional vehicles so the new connection will remain the current three lanes north and a reduction from four to three lanes south.
  • Essentially the bridge becomes a massive on/off ramp for city traffic and unless and until the rail tunnels and line are built more buses on bus lanes across the bridge will be the PT part of the project.

Here’s the set of variations currently available for the city end, all versions involve four tunnels under Victoria Park [3 new ones]:

AWHC Tunnell Options

All schemes also involve massive new interchanges on new reclamations at the North Shore end with flyovers and multiple connections between crossings, not unlike the new interchange at Waterview currently being built. Like the outcomes for traffic on North Shore local roads, the impacts of this project will be neither small nor all positive north of the bridge. However for this post I just want to focus on the city-side implications.

Assuming the road crossing is built first, which is consistent with assertions by politicians and officials with phrases like it will be ‘future proofed for rail’, as well as the lack of any real work yet on a rail crossing, it is worth asking exactly where will the new traffic enabled by the extra capacity across the harbour go once in the city?

Because the new crossing plugs directly into the CMJ, three lanes in and three lanes out, and because there are no planned increases in capacity through the CMJ, nor any space for any without further massive tunnelling, in effect the new capacity will be all on the bridge, so coming from the Shore this new traffic will all have to be accommodated by just three off ramps [same in reverse heading north]:

  • Cook St; with new direct connections through Victoria Park
  • Fanshawe St, especially for buses on new bus lanes
  • Shelly Beach Rd, and then on to Jervois and Ponsonby Rds.

None of these exits can accommodate any increasing in traffic well, or without considerable disbenefit, especially if that increase in traffic is large.

  • Cook St is pointed directly at the heart of the city, so this contradicts policy of reducing vehicle volumes in the city centre and is likely to infarct daily at the peaks as Cook St is close and perpendicular to Hobson and Nelson Sts which serve the Southern and Northwestern motorway flows. Gridlock is likely at the controlled intersections unable to handle large and peaky traffic volumes to and from these motorways. Additionally land use in this area is changing and intensifying making it even less suitable for the high speed motorway offramp it already hosts.
  • Fanshawe will have reduced capacity for general traffic as a multilane Busway will be required to take the increased bus volumes from the bridge, and anyway is already at capacity at the peaks.
  • Shelly Beach Rd is a narrow residential street not suited to the high volumes and high speeds it already suffers from the bridge now. Furthermore there is no benefit and little capacity for the streets beyond Shelly Beach Rd, particularly Jervois and Ponsonby Rds for a large increase in vehicle volumes.

Nonetheless, here are the forecasts they have come up with, Shelly Beach Rd with a 63% increase, is basically filled with bridge traffic by 2026 and the new crossing:

AWHC Forecast Daily traffic flows

20,300 additional cars modelled for Fanshawe + Cook St with the AWHC option (assume that is all day on a weekday?). Even at the best sorts of turnover that would require around 10,000+ new carpark places. The downtown carpark has 1890 spaces. So where exactly do we put six new downtown carpark buildings? And what six streets get sacrificed to feed them?

20,300 cars carry perhaps 25,000 people. The CRL at capacity will carry that entire amount in 40 minutes. As could a North Shore rail line of similar specification. If the net outcome of this project is to take 20,000 commuters to midtown, why not do it with rapid transit at a third the cost with none of the traffic congestion?

“The significant increase in traffic movements conflict with many of the aspirations outlined in current Council policies, strategies, frameworks and master plans.”

P 65 Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing Network Plan, NZTA, 2010.

Obviously these higher traffic volumes are not good for every pedestrian, resident, and general city user in these areas but there is one other group that this situation in particular is going to make miserable, and that’s the motorist. There is a word for all this additional driving everywhere on city streets: congestion. Yup this increase in capacity across the harbour may speed that part of the journey but it’s going to make arriving anywhere in the city in your car much more hellish than it is now. And don’t even think about finding or affording somewhere to park.

What NZTA’s consultants say about this:

AWHC City exits

The increased traffic flows through St Marys Bay on both Shelley Beach rd and Curran St look to lead to particularly poor and unfixable outcomes:

AWHC Local Roads

It seems optimistic to say that because there are cafes, and strongly increasing pedestrian volumes, on Ponsonby Rd, that drivers won’t try to drive there, especially if other bridge exits are controlled or too busy. After all the first rule of urban traffic is that it will expand to wherever it is allowed to go. So, in the end, taking measures to dis-incentivise drivers to use these exits, is the consultant’s advice:

AWHC City Streets

It does seem kind of odd to spend $4-6 billion to increase capacity across the harbour only to then introduce other measures to try to stop people using it.

And it won’t be just parking, there’s also likely to be tolls, it appears the model says they can pretty much eliminate the traffic problem with an $8 toll!:

AWHC Tolling both crossings

If only there was a way to enable more trips without inducing more and more cars to also be driven into the crowded city streets. After all the City Centre has been growing strongly without adding more cars most of this century:

CBD Transport Change

In fact it looks like we are already at or even above the limit of desirable vehicle numbers in the city, and future developments like replacing car access to Queen St with Light Rail are likely to make even current numbers face pressure.

Additionally there is an issue with bus volumes as well as car numbers on the city streets, even though the New Bus Network, the CRL, and Light Rail, if it happens, will reduce bus numbers from other parts of the city, there is certainly a limit to the numbers of buses from the Shore that can be comfortably accommodated too. Below is the predicted year of maximum bus capacity at major entry points to the city. The role of the CRL in reducing bus number pressure from the Isthmus is obvious, so why not do the same thing for buses from the Shore?

AWHC Year of Buslane max capacity

So perhaps the answer is to reverse the assumed staging and build the rail Rapid Transit tunnels first, leaving space for the road crossing to come later. This certainly looks physically possible in the maps above. This would enable all of those possible trips across the Harbour that NZTA identifies to still be served but without any of the traffic disbenefits that so clearly dog the road only crossing. In terms of people capacity two rail tracks can carry twice the volume of six traffic lanes. Furthermore it can be built without disturbing the current crossing and its connections. And rail crossings have proven in the past to be good alternative routes in an emergency.

This would add the real resilience of a whole other high capacity mode across the Harbour instead of simply more of the same. It would make our Harbour infrastructure more closely resemble Sydney’s where most of the heavy lifting in terms of people numbers is done by Rapid Transit, as shown below. We already have ferries, buses, and cars bringing people across, isn’t it time we added the particular efficiency of electric rail?

Sydney Harbour am peak

It seems particularly clear that whatever we add next really can’t involve trying to shove ever more vehicles [cars and buses] onto our crowded city streets; that will simple hold everyone up.

All the information above was gleaned from the work done some six years ago for NZTA, from here, and Auckland has moved on a great deal from where it was then. Among other things that have been proven recently is that when we are offered a high quality rail system we will use it. We are also discovering the value of our City Centre as a place to live, and work, and just be in, and how this is only possible to continue this improvement with fewer cars on every street. We certainly believe that there are more options for a far greater Auckland than the simple binary ones studied above: the road crossing ‘future proofed’ for rail, or the ‘Do Minimum’ which is nothing.

So we have asked, as part of the Auckland Transport Alignment Process, for a Rapid Transit crossing as the next additional crossing to be modelled too. So we can compare the status quo with the road crossing, and with a Rapid Transit crossing separately. Additionally we know that AT are now working on how various rail systems could work so in time there will be properly developed rail options to compare with the road one.

There is time as well as the need to get this right, the Western Ring Route will begin to become more complete next year with the opening of the Waterview tunnels, and that whole multi billion dollar system is of course an alternative harbour crossing system and will alter both the performance of  both the Bridge and the CMJ. Similarly decisions about AT’s proposed LRT system too has a bearing on options, as will the opening of the CRL next decade. Not least because the addition of these high quality systems will make movement through the city without a car much more common, as is the case in many overseas cities of Auckland’s size and quality.

The road crossing looks very much like an extremely expensive ‘nice to have’, that duplicates and tidies up the State Highway route, something to add when the missing alternatives have been built and there is spare budget to spend on duplication. Because on balance the road first additional crossing proposal really achieves little more than this:

AWHC 'City Roads' image

end.

90 comments to AWHC: Where Does all the New Traffic Go?

  • Brian

    Detailed and well researched post. As a North Shore resident I’ve always assumed the next harbour crossing project would finally fix our major congestion issues. Looks like I was wrong and also looks like the NZTA are a bunch of numpties for not coming up with a better project.

    • Nick

      Brian, the main reason this won’t fix congestion is that there’s nothing to fix. I’m a shore resident too and I don’t ever remember being held up by traffic on the harbour bridge.

      • Shaun

        As someone who drives across the bridge every day I can’t help but agree with you. The morning crawl starts at Greville/Oteha and opens up between Esmonde and Onewa, except maybe when it rains. The bridge is rarely the congested bit, unless if there’s something happening over at the St Mary’s Bay side. Most people on the Shore don’t seem to observe this though.

        That being said the traffic coming in the opposite direction can often get heavy on the bridge, both morning and evening peaks – but I’m sure we don’t need a brand new tunnel to solve that problem…

        • Nigel Owen

          It is strange how people blame the Harbour Bridge for the congestion on the northern motorway. In the peak direction the bridge has 5 lanes and flows pretty well; where as the northern motorway is around 3 lanes. 3 is less than 5, this is the cause of the congestion yet people don’t seem to get this? I hate to imagine what will happen if we try to add 3 to 5 and have 8 lanes eventually merging into 3 heading north for the pm peak and everyone trying to squeeze through 3 lanes to access the bridge and tunnel heading south in the am peak

      • Nick

        You have obviously never driven across when there has been an issue. About a week ago on a Saturday a campervan broke down going up the bridge. Was a nightmare getting across that day. There is usually a cop car sitting around during peak to clear cars quickly, and outside those limited situations the Bridge has hardly been the issue. Another harbour crossing would be nice to have for added resilience but is by no means necessary.

        • The same could be said of any part of the motorway (or roading system in general). You cant justify $4-$6B in case a camper van breaks down from time to time. I was stuck in the traffic last week when there was a NB crash. It added a mere 20 minutes to my commute from Penrose to Orewa. Meh. Shit happens.

        • Waspman

          The Harbour Bridge is a decent problem south bound during evening peak time, a real bottle neck so it is an issue. But a duplicate road feeding more cars into the city is the most stupid idea since denying rail to the North Shore in the 1950’s!

          However a duplicate crossing by rail should be the starting point. It is absolutely correct to say that a quality rail service will attract the people to use it because look at the established system and look at Onehunga, that was never supposed to attract enough passengers to justify its existence.

          A second road crossing could kind of be justified only if it bypasses the CBD, but as stated it’s a nice to have.

  • This is real Alice in Wonderland stuff. Spend $4-6bn and make congestion worse.

  • George D

    As always: Who are these people???

    $5b to create worse congestion. We know with certainty that once traffic reaches offramps which limit capacity, it doesn’t matter if there are two lanes or two hundred behind – those lanes will stop. So why don’t NZTA’s engineers and planners know this? Why are they providing bad advice to their superiors and the public?

  • Another CBD bus interchange is needed to remove the main bottleneck and maximise the peak frequency of the Northern bus service. Double decker buses will add capacity.

  • Mr Plod

    Wonderfully researched post Patrick. Maybe Brian or another Nort Shore resident could research and write the sequel; Where does all the new traffic come from?

  • Warren S

    As far as I am concerned NZTA just muck-up our city. Why do we give any credence to their proposals?

  • And this is while we’re talking about closing Queen Street to cars, giving transit priority to buses on Albert street and expanding shared spaces? New buildings going up with (relatively) much less parking. Left hand right hand?

  • Greg N

    Those graphs with the tolling strategy shows how low the economic value of many of the trips on the combined AHB and new tunnels are going to be in 2026.
    There is a very stark difference between the no toll traffic volumes both AM peak to the City/South and from the City/North and the $8 (is that each way or one way only like the old bridge toll?) toll options.

    The PT trips are not going up in direct proportion as the number of crossings goes down either, no instead, many of those trips simply evaporate when tolling comes along.
    Which shows just how unnecessary many of those trips actually are, so low a value/considered unnecessary to the makers of the trips, in fact, that even a minimal $2 toll begins discourage a chunk of them, with that trend getting progressively stronger as toll heads to $8.

    So if the trips the tunnel provide are so low value that even a modest toll means it doesn’t happen, why should NZ Taxpayers stump up $4 billion plus to provide them with the means to make so many low economic value trips – “just because they can”?

    Also note that no comment is made how the merging and such of the AHB lanes going north and the tunnel traffic going north will work at Onewa in the PM peak – you’ll have some 6-7 lanes ducking and weaving as folks get off at Onewa from both streams, other folks “going straight” merge in to the streams going north. Those folks who do drive to the CBD, will still be forced to use the AHB to cross the harbour as the tunnels won’t work for them under the proposals above.

    • Mr Plod

      So Greg, let’s see where this postulate takes us. Apply the toll from today under the argument that “we are banking tolls to pre-pay for the tunnels’ and see how much that suppresses current demand and provides the time ‘for a cup of tea’ as Patrick suggests ahead of rushing into a decision.

      • Greg N

        No argument from me, but I think Messrs Joyce, Bridges, Key and English from the National government might have something to contribute about that idea.
        Of course, even if they agreed to that, there’s no chance the tolls would actually be used to “pre-pay” anything except more RoNS.
        That alone might not be a bad thing, [the devil you know v the one you don’t], but its still throwing bad money after a bad idea.

        Of course, when its a toll it has a fighting chance, when its called “road pricing” or “demand management” or “regional fuel tax” instead – you’ve got zero chance of it going anywhere as Len Brown has found.

    • nonsense

      they don’t evaporate, they take the skypath

  • PeterP

    I wonder why would anyone pay the toll for using the tunnel if the bridge was free, or was the plan to toll the bridge too?

    • Both would have to be tolled or no one would use the new crossing

      • Yes if they — hypothetically – build this bridge they had better toll both crossings. Otherwise the penny pinchers will figure out that you can exit the motorway on Cook Street and enter again via Hobson Street.

      • PeterP

        Ok. So the plan is to spend 5-6bil, and they discourage ppl from actually using it. I really can’t understand how this could have any positive return for the economy.
        If we don’t wan’t ppl to drive let’s just toll the bridge again and get immediate reduction in traffic, and as we at it – do it on other motorways. Isn’t that a solution someone else proposed already ;-P

      • David B.

        But why toll it at all? After all, they aren’t tolling the new Waterview Connection and neighbouring streets in case anyone wants to avoid the toll? And as pointed out by Patrick, where is the logic in building something and then discouraging people from using it?

      • Glen

        But Matt, hasn’t government policy been since the Clark government to provide a free alternative route when a new road is tolled? (happy to be corrected if I’m wrong)

        If so, then the AHB would have to be free.

        And if so, then the AWHC would have very few users, making the whole thing a massive waste of money (even more than it looks now).

        Time for a rethink IMHO, and serious consideration for LRT plans and no more road crossings of the Waitemata. Pity the current Government has shown no inclination for changing its plans on harbour crossings. Time for a change next year?

  • Simon

    So as a roading project, this is demonstrably bad, however setting that aside, I’m confused by the renderings. If the plan is to build twin road tunnels, why are the rail tunnels indicated as being bored separately? I thought rail could go in road tunnels of that diameter under the roading platform? Surely alignment issues can be resolved.

  • Stu Donovan

    Putting the merits of the AWHC project to one side for a moment, here’s my take on the “real politik” …

    There’s five words that the NZTA (and more importantly their political overlords) seem to have forgotten: The. Basin. Reserve. Flyover. Decision.

    In that particular case, NZTA’s proposal was rejected by a Board of Enquiry despite enjoying considerable support from most parts of the regional/local council. I struggle to see such regional/local government support for the AWHC. Indeed, by increasing traffic on inner-city streets, the AWHC directly contradicts every regional/local transport and land use strategy that has existed in Auckland for about the last 20 years.

    It’s also easy to imagine *considerably* more opposition to the AWHC from commercial and community stakeholders than there was to the Basin Reserve Flyover.

    In terms of commercial property owners, I would expect property owners at Wynyard Point to be rather interested in the impacts of the associated vehicle traffic on their long-planned (well-underway) investments. Commercial developments on Cook Street may also have something to say about all the capacity in the surrounding street network being used up.

    In terms of community opposition, imagine, if you will, how the residents of St Mary’s Bay, Freemans Bay, Herne Bay and Ponsonby might react. Imagine what Mr and Mrs Whipperswaite-Fougere will think when they read in their local newspaper that the proposed AWHC will cause a 50% increase in traffic on ***their*** local streets. The residents of these particular Auckland suburbs have a hard-earned reputation for fighting changes they don’t like. Even past attempts to run buses or cycle lanes down streets in this area has seen QCs being called out, threats of legal action, and appeals to the Privy Council.

    I’d expect the opposition to be similar to that which successfully fought the Eastern Motorway: Well-organised, well-heeled, and relatively well-informed. Many of these people have connections in the National and Labour and Green Parties. It’ll be similar to the Eastern Motorway except with a broader-base, given that the AWHC project has such wide-ranging impacts on many sensitive parts of the city.

    All this is saying nothing about the reaction of people and politicians on the North Shore when people there find out that they get 1) a massive motorway interchange on the waterfront and 2) the privilege of paying a rather high toll to use both the existing bridge and the new crossing.

    If that wasn’t enough, consider the reaction from the rest of NZ when people find out the AWHC drains the national transport coffers like no other mother duster for about ~5+ years. Or – if it is funded centrally – that it competes with other CG spending priorities like health, education, and even tax cuts. Imagine what the opposition parties (whoever they are at the time) will be able to promise to a much wider electorate across the country simply by not sinking $5 billion into the AWHC.

    For these reasons I feel kind of sad when I see NZTA getting excited about the AWHC project. Sad partly because it looks like political pressure has been applied, internal supporters of the project have got their hopes up, and the wheels are turning internally. NZTA’s staff will – with support from higher up the chain – invest lots of time/money in getting the AWHC project to the point where applications are lodged. And then the shit will hit the proverbial fan for the reasons outlined above. The project will end up in protracted proceedings attended by a thousand over-paid lawyers and consultants.

    And if the project reaches that stage then everybody tends to lose, somewhat irrespective of the outcome of the proceedings.

    Ultimately, I suspect the AWHC will get turned down for many reasons noted here as well as elsewhere. I might be wrong, but I’d hate to see years of fighting, and possibly close to a hundred million in fees for lawyers and consultants to find out the answer.

    Patrick is right: The best way to reduce traffic congestion from the North Shore in a way that aligns with regional/local strategic objectives is to build a *rapid transit link*. What Patrick didn’t say above is that an RTN link is possibly also the only type of transport project that will enjoy wide-spread community support. It might also be the only proposal that will get past a Board of Enquiry, or survive a change in government for that matter.

    So, my suspicion is that the “real politik” will – at some point – sink this project like a stone. I guess we’ll find out …

    • Frank McRae

      I agree. There is no way the QC armed residents of Herne Bay and Northcote would tolerate the flood of traffic and visual blight the AWHC would cause.

      This project makes no sense and is being driven by engineers who like the challenge of building big things and politicians who like cutting big ribbons. Fortunately NIMBYism can sometimes be a force for good.

      • Stu Donovan

        I’m not completely sure what’s driving the project. Perhaps someone like Stephen Joyce got held up on the bridge once and decided that what we really needed to do was to spend $5 billion on a tunnel? Or perhaps some senior highway engineer at the NZTA wants to build a big bad-ass honey badger tunnel? Who knows, and it’s not really that important …

        What is more important is that it seems fairly easy to poke holes in the strategic case for the AWHC project that are larger than the tunnel portals themselves. I mean if Patrick can do it then it can’t be that hard right? Now think of a team consisting of a couple of sharp QCs, some legal aides to read all the documents, supported by a small team of decent professional experts, e.g. traffic engineer, economist, planner, and architect/urban designer.

        From where I’m sitting the AWHC project looks like a swamp where regional/local transport and land use aspirations die a slow painful death. And a sharp QC will have no trouble ramming this fact home based on the information NZTA have released *to date*, let alone any further studies of their own that the opponents might commission.

        So yes, the AWHC is massive and there’s a lot of people who are potentially disaffected. And there ain’t no party like an elite Auckland party … I can almost hear the squeals of (not unjustified) indignation from here.

    • Matthew W

      I think you are right Stu. I do wonder where this project came from in the first place. It appears to be an idea that has been around forever, but that would have made no more sense in the past than now.

      While this project may never see the light of day, the effects of it maybe are already being felt. For example look at the discussion on Fanshawe St. They want to “optimise” PT without “impinging” on vehicle traffic. Does this mean a location-appropriate city-side extension to the busway will be stymied because of envisioned future vehicle flows? If so that is very disappointing not to mention illogical.

      • Stu Donovan

        Yes it’s a bit weird.

        We’re investing in the CRL, SkyPath, and the Northern Busway (extensions to Albany, more services and extensions to Albany, and more capacity). We’re investing in the wider regional transport network, e.g. bus lanes, New Network, cycle infrastructure. AT are considering LRT for many major urban corridors.

        We’ve almost finished building Waterview, while widening of SH16 is underway and a motorway connection is being planned between SH18 and SH1. The East-West link (SH1 to SH20) has received accelerated funding, which like it or not should help to drag traffic off SH1.

        All of this investment in PT and roads will 1) provide real transport options for people to access the inner-city without a car and 2) provide real alternatives to vehicle traffic which wants to bypass the city centre.

        And then some bright-spark decides it’d be a good idea to blow $5 billion on a car tunnel into the city centre. How on earth did those dots get joined?

      • Waspman

        Perhaps those joining dots are someone who knows someone who owns shares in something that would make a fortune out of such an illogical decision to build an underwater motorway. We ain’t slipping down the corruption standings for no reason!

    • The one problem with this theory seems to be that it gets a lot of support from local government too. Len will has been a cheerleader for it naively thinking he can get combined road and rail tunnel (but that’s not what NZTA are doing). Councillors like Wood are very enthusiastic about it and it would be a brave candidate to say no to it at elections later this year.

      AT seems largely towing the NZTA line which they kind of have to with the ‘one network’ approach they both have.

      Personally I think the biggest hurdle for it is that it the 3 new tunnels under Vic park will require the removal of a decent chunk of mature trees and part of the Vic park markets.

      • Stu Donovan

        Len’s irrelevant; the new Mayor will have a chance to make their own mind up on the project – and both leading candidates have stood on the plank of fiscal responsibility. Wood is only one vote on Council and while influential on the Shore this will quickly become a regional (isthmus) if not national issue (at least in terms of funding implications) and his influence will diminish.

        Also, it’s been easy for many people to quietly support the AWHC project until now because it’s been talked about largely in concept only. I’d expect regional/local opposition to the project to increase over time as the details/impacts of the project become clearer for people, who will then communicate their concerns to their local representatives.

        Councillors who support the project could easily be voted out, like what happened to John Banks when he pushed the Eastern Motorway. An “anti-AWHC” campaign, for example, could tip the scales at local government elections towards those candidates who were less favourable to the AWHC, similar to what the NIMBYs did with respect to the PAUP last time.

        And as the realities of the project become clear, and community opposition mobilises, then the staff at AC/AT will quietly respond to the political climate and distance themselves from the project. They might not oppose it publicly per se, but their reports on the matter could become more neutral and less favourable.

        Or I could be completely wrong and the AWHC project sails through without a hitch.

      • George Wood’s argument is that the tunnel fixes the Esmonde Rd bottle neck providing faster peak access to SH1 for residents of Takapuna, Devonport and the lower East Coat bays.

        • Then the logical thing would be to have a tunnel from Devonport to Stanley Street. This would of course destroy most of what makes Devonport attractive and that entire peninsula would have to become a motorway, but hey at least it would get rid of a bottleneck.

        • Wood even claims the AWHC will ‘solve’ congestion on Lake Rd. Not a chance, it will make Shore local roads worse everywhere, the same issues above for the City are also the case for all the roads that feed and surround SH1 on the Shore. All on-ramps will be controlled by signals, the extra capacity across the harbour will incentivise more driving and will simply exacerbate congestion there. More driving = more congestion, there is no more straightforward equation in cities, and this is a huge overpriced driving generation project.

      • SDW

        A candidate from the Shore maybe, put I would have thought something like this could compromise Waitemata candidates or even Nikki Kaye’s seat consider it impacts her supporter base most strongly.

    • Nick

      That all makes a lot of sense Stu. But isn’t the problem that our useless media won’t actually report any of that stuff, so most of those people that might be expected to object will be oblivious, looking forward to the amazing new harbour crossing that will remove all congestion.

      • Stu Donovan

        Perhaps. It certainly matters to the political dimensions. Although the Eastern Motorway campaigners were able to get that message across ok? I’m also not sure how much media will matter once the nitty-gritty of the RMA hearings get underway. At that point what counts is access to expertise and cash. Of course these two are partly a function of successfully attracting sufficient support, but local grassroots campaigns tend to be quite effective at this independently of the media.

        • Curently the political cost of supporting AWHC is low – it’s a few election cycles in the future and it is supposedly centrally funded. The cost of supporting it needs to be raised, which means the details of the scheme need to communicated and the more than minor effects explained to public on both sides of the bridge. Then political pressure can be applied. I woudn’t expect current North Shore politicians (both central & local), with the exception of perhaps Darby, to change their mind on the project as they have been actively proposing it as a solution and won’t want to lose face. They also toe the party line.

          But the political enviromnment can change – for example in 5 years time the western route will be complete, CRL works well underway and possibly LRT running in the isthmus. PT will be at or past breaking points on many key routes. I think it will only become easier to make the case for a transit crossing first, especially communicating to north shore residents what the benefits of a rail corssing will give them, and how it links into the PT network south of the harbour.

    • My guess is that a project this size will have it’s own enabling legislation and won’t need to worry about any pesky board of enquiry.

  • I agree completely. There is just no benefit from another car crossing. Mr Donovan may well be right that local politics will kill it. Is there anything that we could do now to nail the coffin down?

    • Stu Donovan

      I’m no expert on such matters, but perhaps the best thing you could do is to write a letter to your local councillors and MPs (off all stripes and hues) to express your thoughts on the project (whatever they may be). If you’re really keen then requesting to meet with them to discuss the issues would have an even greater impact. Do it early, because their schedules are busy and the earlier they hear from you the better – as it means there’s less chance they’ll take a firm public stance on it either way.

  • Nigel Owen

    Some of the consequences for city streets could be mitigated by tolls, they could perhaps be further mitigated by reducing the number of traffic lanes on the bridge. If you introduce a permanent bus lane in each direction and discontinue the moveable barrier system you will only have three traffic lanes going into the city. However this will impact on the queue on the Northern motorway.
    The Northern motorway queue could be a disastrous consequence as the induced demand plus growth in housing north of Auckland could lead to vast numbers of vehicles trying to get down the motorway to access either the bridge or tunnel! Has NZTA considered how they are going to manage this? We will probably see more traffic on North shore streets not only trying to access the motorway but perhaps trying to bypass some of the queue. My prediction is that someone commuting by car will perhaps save 2mins crossing the bridge (but even then induced demand will probably cancel this out), they will lose 10-20mins in the queue to get to the bridge and will probably still lose a further 10mins or so navigating the congested city streets.

  • If this is your problem [pic] then this is not your solution [more idiotic pic].

    Maybe whoever is pushing this is a bit retarded. I don’t think so. This is so blindingly obvious, anyone should be able to figure this out in a few seconds.

    By the way, the same issue occurs on the north side of the bridge. There is no capacity there either. SH1 north of Takapuna is choka as well during the PM peak. So where will all the traffic go? Esmonde road? Onewa Road? Hint: that’s not where all those new suburban rat mazes are built right now.

    And then there is this equally silly looking (for the same reasons) Penlink project further north.

    No, I guess the long game is keeping this business going. So we have this bridge there, but it doesn’t solve anything. Now we can’t let that $X,XXX,XXX,XXX go to waste, right? Now we have to “somehow” widen SH1 between the AWHC and Penlink. Now we have to “somehow” widen the spaghetti junction. Or maybe, since we are in the business of building motorways along shorelines anyway, we can build one on the foreshore between the harbour bridge and join it up with SH20 at Waterview. Making sense is not a requirement, so who knows?

    Movie quote of the day: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

  • GL

    I don’t want to appear rude but this is the classic definition of an idiot – doing the same thing but expecting different results . This morning the Southern MW was a parking lot and the Western MW heavily congested in places. Shoving more traffic onto a congested network isn’t going to solve the problem – it hasn’t so far.

    • The NW motorway… what a mess that is, adding more lanes to the point where it looks like an eyesore (11 lanes in some places!). The bus lanes arn’t even how they used to be, where when someone broke down they can get out of the way of the bus lanes, now its just going to be bus lane right next to a concrete crash/sound barrier, so whenever someone breaks down, gets pulled over or if there is road maintenance, tough luck for bus users… Not to mention buses have to re-merge with general traffic at every interchange (Lincoln, Te Atatu and Patiki/Rosebank) etc. Its just ridiculous to think they didn’t include a busway with the current works. At least south Auckland has a rail route mostly paralleling the motorway, which the new bus network will help get people to if they don’t leave near it.

  • Brent Meekan

    Interesting comments- I presume these issues are being addressed in the current work . The existing bridge does have a finite life and the Agency has been able to keep extending this through clever upgrades, maintenance and limiting heavy vehicle use. At some point we will want another link even if only for route security.

    If the crossing was refocused to a PT link would it be bus or rail (light or heavy)? A bus link may be the most appropriate as it would avoid the additional cost and debate of planning, consenting and building a rail link on the Shore. I can’t envisage that being a popular or quick process.

  • Grant

    Can’t imagine this vehicle crossing happening with all the issues they point out themselves?! It’s pure insanity! Toll it to the max is their only viable solution to make it work!

  • As I remember, the AWHC work was a result of fears over the lifespan of the clip-ons and assessing the length of time it would take to build an alternative bridge/tunnel.
    The original harbour bridge was built solidly to allow tanks to cross. The clip-ons are highly stressed. If we lost the clip-ons, adding 2 x 3 lane tunnels appears a reasonable replacement capacity wise, considering no moveable barrier.
    As the clip-ons have no restrictions for trucks, I think its fair to say there is still plenty of time to build a replacement if necessary. In which case, I see no need to spend any money on a road crossing now.
    The case for rail is separate. Combined road/rail tunnels only make sense if the road needs building now. Building separate rail tunnels with a station at Onewa would reduce load on the bridge further increasing lifespan, and reduce congestion on Fanshawe and in the CBD.
    I’d see the predicted 2019 CBD bus congestion as the biggest driver of rail development. Adding a road tunnel for more buses isn’t going to help the CBD. The CRL TBMs will be earth pressure balance, and be suitable for cross harbour.

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    The rail is so badly thought out in that proposal, that the people of lower-western North Shore (most of Kaipatiki – Northcote, Northcote Point, Highbury, Birkenhead, Beach Haven, Bayview and some Glenfield)) are cut-off from the proposed “future-proof”. That’s because there is no allowance for any station at Onewa.

    • Nick

      And you only have the residents around Onewa to blame for that one…

      • The station was not allowed for at Onewa due to geology and grade of the harbour floor, i.e. depth of tunnel under the harbour and ability of the tunnel to rise to near the surface at Onewa. I think the 2010 design used max 2% grade, so given 3.5% capability of new electric trains and grade in CRL, and possibly some additional reclamation or more difficult engineering, a station should be possible. The station platforms could always be built below sea level, like Britomart obviously at greater expense.

        • Matthew W

          You dont need to daylight the tunnel for a station though. In any case I think light rail over the existing bridge is the best option followed by light rail on its own bridge – has a LRT bridge been looked at?

          • I’ve asked senior NZTA people about LRT over the bridge that they’re suggesting. They admit in private that it’s unlikely to be a possibility.

          • Matthew W

            Thats interesting Matt, is it a technical issue, or unacceptable from the POV of removing soace from general traffic? Are they saying thst pre or post AWHC? I have been thinking that a two lane PT bridge could be a relatively affordable option, in the hundreds of millions range. This could be built first to “complete” the busway and then converted to LRT if/when required.

          • Technically; they’re now saying the double-deckers are stressing the bridge structure. So, if the bridge is suffering from the volume and size of vehicles caused by the Transit boom, isn’t the obvious solution is to build a new dedicated Rapid Transit crossing to take all those buses off the current bridge, and to absorb the coming growth, as the next crossing? This could easily be a bridge or tunnels for LRT to run up the busway, serving both Wynyard and Onewa, LRT works with geometries that make both easily accessible.

            Personally I am keen on a new Bridge, and I don’t understand why this option has apparently been discounted, and have yet to hear a convincing explanation. In fact I don’t think the process to date has been at all democratic; far too much is happening behind closed doors. Whether this is because of political instruction or institutional momentum within NZTA, I don’t know, but in either case it is far from satisfactory.

          • As Patrick says it’s a technical issue and yes post AWHC.

            We quite like the idea of something similar to the Tilikum Crossing in Portland. It is LRT/Bus and walking/cycling only. Tilikum_Crossing

            Basically leave the current bridge as is, build a dedicated PT and walking bridge and if the clip-ons still need replacing could use the extra capacity of the PT option to shift traffic while you remove and replace clip-ons one at a time (some will go back to driving, many won’t).

          • MFD

            “Technically; they’re now saying the double-deckers are stressing the bridge structure.”

            Technically correct, Patrick, but meaningless. All vehicles stress the bridge structure. That is the nature of bridges; they are designed to cope with stresses up to a given limit. The magnitude is the relevant parameter for the main structure and the magnitude and frequency for the clip-ons (since fatigue is the potential failure mode). Double decker buses produce a whole lot less stress in the bridge than heavy trucks. The cynic in me suggests that an additional harbour crossing is to permit even heavier trucks than the current legislation allows. There is a huge cloud of obfuscation around the so-called HPMVs and pointing the finger at double decker buses seems to be another example.

          • Yup, I’m not claiming anything here, merely repeating what our public servants are saying. It seems unlikely to my inexpert sense that DDs could be harder on the bridge than heavy trucks, especially Joyce’s extra heavy trucks with the euphemistic name; High-Productivity, but neither are being kept off the clip-ons, so how seriously do we take them anyway?

            If the new number and scale of the buses are really a problem then shouldn’t we be working on an alternative Transit route with urgency? Not a scheme designed expressly to keep buses on the bridge, and in fact have more of them?

          • Matthew W

            Yes Tilikum Crossing looks like a good comparison. 150 million for about half the length of a garbour crossing but similar span lengths and height. So could we get a nice cable stayed bridge for 300 million?

          • Stand by caller, I believe we a post in the works on this very issue… and yes bridges, whether Transit and Active only, or Road, Transit, and Active, are all cheaper than tunnels, and have lower operating costs, and are much more pleasant to use [on foot, on bike, in a car or train].

            And, in my view, are way more aesthetically pleasing, could be a great addition to our harbour….

          • MFD the issue they say isn’t the overall weight as trucks are heavier but the fact they have fewer axles to distribute the load they have. One quote to me was the teams maintaining it are seeing more cracks in the clip ons than they’ve ever seen before (not sure if this is the surface or the structure itself).

          • Waspman

            Oh my God, Double deckers are stressing the bridge but the 50 plus tonne truck and trailers that this idiot government brought in, that are also wrecking suburban roads, perfectly fine. No bullshit going on at NZTA is there? Reminiscent of the 1986 Castlemaine XXXX ute advert.

          • MFD

            I have done a bit of poking around, Matt, and it seems that in September last year Simon Bridges signed off on special permits to allow axle loads for double deckers operating in Auckland to exceed the normal 8.2 tonne maximum axle load by 1.5 tonnes. That seems to be a tad careless from an engineering standpoint. Looks like an own goal by NZTA.

  • mfwic

    My take on all of this is they have no desire to build it and no intention of ramming it through. The idea is the shock people enough so they dont have to. Every ten years or so they pay consultants to trot out the same plans and multiply the previous costs by 10. The act of talking about it makes supporters feel they are doing something while not actually doing it keeps the rest happy. It is a modern form of bread and circuses.

  • Mr Plod

    And while we’re focused on stopping this the rediculous and not required East-West link gets rammed through as a sop to the Trucking and Construction lobbies. It doesn’t bulldoze houses and it’s in South Auckland so finding the necessary funds & QC’s to stop it is going to be hard. Maybe the considerable passion and skills of the supporters of this blog shift there as a road only AWHC will naturally implode.

  • Brutus Iscariot

    Still a popular project on the shore – it’s red meat to the electorate up there.

  • Bobo il Pagliaccio

    Can I regurgitate back at some North Sh(ore)ites a theme that is often spouted. I live in South Auckland and never use the harbour bridge or the busway, so why should I pay for it?? Neh neh neh.

    But seriously, I’m not parochial like that.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    Isn’t the real driving force behind this simply a lingering mindset amongst much of the population, government and opposition, that “Kiwis love their cars”? From this emotional and thoroughly-entrenched viewpoint, the future can only appear as ‘Moar Roads’. Hence the country’s inexplicable fervour to do the whole RoNS thing.

    To some extent Auckland has managed to challenge this mindset with its soaring rail patronage that can no longer be ignored, but outside of Auckland (and that includes the Beehive), the quaint, 1950’s vision of Kiwis and cars pervades.

    Notable holders of this vision are Joyce, Brownlee and Bridges. They have very much defined the norm for other policy-makers to work to, and apart from a few voices such as Transport Blog, very little critiquing goes on.

    Down my neck of the woods, we had the shock and horror of the Basin Flyover being rejected by the board of enquiry, but apart from that, comfortable normalcy continues with Transmission Gully getting underway and nothing remotely comparable for public transport.

    Welcome to Aotearoada, 1950.

  • Josh

    Why would it not be a good idea to bypass the city altogether and tunnel from Newmarket? Isn’t the whole point of another crossing to direct traffic out of/under the city? If this was done then the link could be severed for through traffic in the CMJ on the SH1 and CMJ primarily used as a link to the SH16 and city on/off ramps. The CMJ could also be used to then direct traffic in emergency closure of the SH1 tunnels. I don’t see how this isn’t a considered option, and could even go as far as linking the SH16 underground too

  • So to summarise. A road crossing to straighten out the motorway connection is certainly a ‘nice to have’, but it generates a terrible outcome for the city and Shore local roads with induced trips and much more congestion. Perhaps there’s a way to restrict or price too many new trips between this points from happening but it seems unlikely. Maybe toll the bridge [city off/on-ramp] but not the SH direct route, and/or take the clips off? But then wouldn’t drivers then just be incentivised to use the Grafton off ramp via the new crossing [which has limited capacity]? I’m not sure, but it could looked at. Perhaps it already is; after all, NZTA must have read these reports and you’d assume they are concerned about these negative outcomes?

    But the much bigger problem is the opportunity cost of spending all this money on something that can’t possible bank more benefits than it costs. Those billions could build so much higher value kit for the city and country. Within Auckland or elsewhere.

    Obviously tolling the bridge would help reduce demand as their modelling shows, it wouldn’t be fair to just price this one route to the city, so lets price them all, after all it is policy to grow access while reducing congestion. Rather than building high cost low value mega projects lets address demand, and either redistribute the income or use it to build high quality alternative to the problem causing traffic congestion…. too sensible?

  • SDW

    Might it be an appropraite time to start crowdfunding for an objection to the road tunnels? All the discussions about QCs and other experts this wont come cheap so might be prudent to start filling up the war chest. It also might help fund an advertising campaign to help set out some of the issues raised here – I’m sure the vast majority of people who will be most impacted will largely be unaware of any of the negatives the project will generate.

  • Why stop at just a fighting fund? With Gareth Morgan offering to stump up the balance of the crowd funding to buy the beach, as long as he can use the bach, maybe we could crowd fund a second rail crossing! If PT is for other people to use so I can drive my car on uncongested roads, maybe the wealthy commuters will stump up and we could cut them a deal on using a bus lane?

  • Guy

    Local resident’s viewpoint aside, most of your commenters seem to agree that the proposed additional Harbour crossing is not the right solution. However: your commenters are not the typical man-in-the-street / taxi-driver, and those untroubled by the ravages of thoughtful education on transport. Instead, the typical Auckland will just swallow the NZTA line hook and all, if the Gov / NZTA / that nice John Key says we need a new Harbour crossing, then we must indeed build it. This lack of understanding is a massive hurdle to get over.

    We had a similar issue in Wellington, with NZTA / Gov pushing the Basin Reserve Flyover. Those who thought carefully about it, who listened, who analysed, realised that it was totally the wrong answer to a perceived problem, yet the average Joe who had swallowed the Gov line, still kept spouting back that a Basin Bridge was needed to solve the congestion in the city.

    Your biggest task ahead: careful education of the public.

    • Stu Donovan

      completely agree.

    • Frank McRae

      A big thing the public is misinformed on is the measured economic benefits of a project. When the public hears that a project has $x million of benefits they think that x million extra dollars will be pumped into the local economy. When really the measured benefits are just a way of putting a dollar value on non monetary benefits.

      I know many of the people supporting the basin flyover did so because they wrongly thought it would provide a big boost to the city’s commerce.

      • Well there is a problem with one agency both promoting and evaluating these projects. It doesn’t look like the Treasury Infrastructure Unit does much at all that I can see in terms of being a watchdog on project excess. Not a peep out of them over the absurd overspend on the east west boondoggle for example. Have we got these structures right? Is there real political independence?

        • Greg N

          Hmm, if only there was some outfit that was truly independant, and could run a ruler over Local and Central Government spending and call out the issues as they see them.

          Could there be a role for say an “Auditor General” to call the crap as they see it?

          Or is it really that NZTA are fudging the figures so hard and fast that no one can really know for sure until its too late?

  • We’ll look back in wonderment at the fact that in 2016 transport czars actually still believed (or purported to) that road congestion could be relieved by building more roads. And lament the investment in so much asphalt.

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