Alarm At Government Plan for Harbour Tunnels

The Campaign for Better Transport has written to Minister of Transport Simon Bridges requesting that a tender process for a multi-lane vehicle tunnel across the Waitemata Harbour be halted.

In the letter, the Campaign for Better Transport states:

  • No cost benefit analysis has been carried out that is compliant with the NZTA’s own Economic Evaluation Manual. The full cost of connecting six additional lanes of traffic to the existing motorway network has not been assessed and the NZTA’s solution has not been proven to be either efficient or effective.
  • A rail only crossing, which would be substantially cheaper due to smaller diameter tunnels and have greater capacity than the NZTA’s single occupant car based solution, has not been evaluated by the NZTA. Neither have any other transport options and alternatives.
  • The NZTA have not consulted the public of Auckland about the transport project they wish to designate for, nor have they given any indication as to how the project will be funded or the amount of any toll that might be required.

The CBT has subsequently learnt from the NZTA that a study in 2008 did look at a rail only tunnel solution to the North Shore, which was costed at $1 – $1.2bn dollars. For reasons that remain unclear, a road tunnel costed at about $4bn was determined to be the most desirable solution.

In 2011, the NZTA produced a Preliminary Business Case for their preferred option. The Benefit Cost Ratio was 0.4, including wider economic benefits. This means that for every dollar spent, just 40c of economic benefit would flow to Auckland as a result of the project being constructed.  Neither the Preliminary Business Case or the earlier 2008 study performed a cost benefit analysis for a rail only crossing.

Regardless, the NZTA are now proceeding with tendering for route protection work, which is due to be awarded in August 2015.

Quite how six lanes of traffic will be integrated with the existing motorway network at Esmonde Road and the Central Motorway Junction is yet to be determined either.

While the NZTA’s proposed solution does potentially “future-proof” for rail, there are no plans currently to determine a route for rail from the central city to the North Shore, and no timeframe for doing so.

The NZ Herald have covered this story here.