Building the case for additional Waitemata Harbour connections

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 3, 2020

The latest stage of work to support Auckland‘s growth and the future of the transport system across the Waitemata Harbour will be released imminently.

The Additional Waitemata Harbour Connections business case lays out the immediate next steps for improving connectivity and travel choice, as well as a roadmap for longer term planning to ensure resilient, reliable and efficient transport options in this nationally significant corridor.

A partnership approach between the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council has built on previous work including AT developing the public transport network and NZTA exploring the feasibility of a tunnel crossing.

“The incident in September which damaged the Auckland Harbour Bridge reinforces the importance of diversifying away from reliance on the current cross-harbour connections. However, the business case shows more work is required to confirm details of additional harbour connections before committing billions of dollars,” says NZTA general manager transport services Brett Gliddon.

The business case analyses the current and future issues faced in Auckland‘s Northern Motorway corridor (including the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Northern Busway), assesses a number of options for addressing these issues, and recommends a way forward to provide a comprehensive and long-lasting response.

“The success of the Northern Busway has helped to reduce immediate pressure on the Harbour Bridge, but with Auckland‘s population set to hit nearly 2 million by 2030, in the longer-term an additional harbour crossing will be essential,” says mayor Phil Goff.

“A new harbour crossing will likely be the most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in New Zealand, so it‘s crucial that we take the time necessary to get the planning and design right,” he says.

A key finding of the business case has been the urgent need to enhance the successful Northern Busway. AT is now progressing that investigation which will examine ways of upgrading the Northern Busway to increase its capacity, reliability and overall service quality into the future.

Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison says the Northern Busway is critical to serving ongoing growth in the North Shore.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the NZTA. This will help ensure that incremental improvements can be made as we progress towards the final outcomes of this business case.”

The business case recommends a phased approach to developing an additional rapid transit connection for the North Shore (including across the Waitemata Harbour to the city centre) that supplements and integrates with the busway and the wider transport system to provide more public transport options. Road improvements are also required in the future to improve resilience and address growing interpeak congestion.

The next phase will confirm the mode, form and function of an additional crossing as well as a timeline for it to be in place before the enhanced busway reaches capacity. This will be followed by a phase to route protect land required for the options developed as part of the process.

“This roadmap will take an integrated full network approach including integration with other plans and projects like City Centre to Mangere and North West rapid transit, work to support land use and growth on the North Shore, the construction of a connection for walking and cycling and any plans for road pricing in Auckland.”

The long-term solutions being investigated would likely be New Zealand‘s biggest transport investments, costing billions of dollars and would be expected to take more than 15 years of design and construction work.

Apart from the Northern Busway improvements, construction is not anticipated to start until the 2030s. The community and stakeholders will be given an opportunity to have their say and help shape the next phases of planning work, expected in 2021.

The full business case document will be available on the NZTA website from Friday 6 November.