Rumour has it that today the Government will announce that it wants to progress an additional Auckland Harbour Crossing, incorporating both road and rail. There are a number of reasons why this idea does not stack up:
- The New Zealand Transport Agency says this project is an economic dog. The most recent benefit cost ratio is 0.3 to 0.4. This means that for every dollar spent, there is likely to be just 30c or 40c returned to the wider economy. This is discussed on page 49 of this NZTA document.
- A likely cost of around $4 billion is an incredible amount of money to spend, and there just isn’t the money available in the National Land Transport Fund to pay for it, even with the pending 9c a litre increase in fuel excise tax over the next three years. A new vehicular crossing will have to be at least part funded by tolls. Current plans include tolling not just the new tunnel, but the existing Harbour Bridge as well, on the basis that users of the bridge benefit from the reduction in traffic as well. People living on the North Shore need to understand that they will have to start paying to drive across the Harbour again.
- The $1.4bn+ Waterview connection is being built to be an alternative to the current Auckland Harbour Bridge. NZTA state that “It will provide a high quality alternative route to SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and take unnecessary traffic away from Auckland’s CBD.” Traffic volumes on the are already flat on the Auckland Harbour Bridge (thanks in part to the Northern Busway), and they will decline further once the Waterview connection opens.
- Huge volumes of single occupant vehicles would spew onto the local roads of the CBD , as well as Herne Bay and Ponsonby. Severe bottlenecks will occur around the CMJ and also the North Shore at the point where a new tunnel would exit at Onewa Road. There is no solution to this problem other than adding more lanes, but this isn’t included in the $5bn cost.
- It would be irresponsible not to look at other options. A rail only tunnel option would cost at least half this amount, and there won’t be any congestion problems caused by single occupant vehicles. Those that don’t have any realistic choice other than to drive can continue to use the existing Harbour Bridge, for free.
For more, read this post on Transport Blog.