Government Misses the Boat
Another article and another dim view on the Waterview Tunnel – the final piece in the Western Ring Route connection designed to bypass the City Centre:
Waterview tunnel concrete collapse rumour ‘incorrect’ – NZTA
If you’re expecting the long-awaited new Waterview Connection to ease Auckland’s rush-hour traffic, prepare to be disappointed.
NZTA Auckland highway manager Brett Gliddon told The AM Show on Friday the $1.4 billion tunnel will twice a day likely suffer the same gridlock as the rest of the city.
“We’ve never said it would fix peak congestion in the city,” said Mr Gliddon. “There’s still going to be a morning peak and an afternoon peak, and the tunnel will be a part of that.”
Since initial forecasting was done about a decade ago, more than 100,000 people have moved into the city.
“Traffic volumes are probably higher at opening than what we originally thought,” said Mr Gliddon.
Outside of peak hours is when the tunnel will truly shine, he says.
“Off-peak and any other time of the day, it’s going to make a huge difference. All that traffic that currently runs through all those local suburbs is now going to be able to use this link.”
It’s estimated around 90,000 vehicles will use the six-lane connection daily. It’ll allow traffic heading through Auckland to bypass ‘Spaghetti Junction’ in the CBD completely, via the west of the city.
“It’s going to make a huge difference. It finally completes the motorway network,” said Mr Gliddon.
The project has been hit with delays however.
“We had some issues with some valves that opened the deluge system, and some of the issues with the jet fans. We’re now over those, we’ve got those systems working. We’re now in the phase of testing the tunnel as a whole, complete system.
“We weren’t going to open the tunnel until it was safe. The valves were sticking. It wasn’t all of them, it was only a few of them, but we’re not going to open unless it’s 100 percent right.”
There is still no confirmed date for the tunnel’s opening, even though some GPS mapping systems have reportedly been sending motorists its way.
“Hopefully in the next couple of months,” said Mr Gliddon. “As soon as it’s ready, we’re going to open it.”
While the Western Ring Route was always designed to have traffic bypass the City Centre, Harbour Bridge and North Shore it was never designed to act alone in doing this. The Western Ring Route was also meant to have transit moving people from the West to the City Centre and later on the Airport (via the Northern Airport Line (City Centre to Airport via Dominion Road and Onehunga)). The first transit option that was meant to be built alongside the North Western Motorway upgrades was the North Western Busway from Westgate to the Waterview Interchange but never go built subsequently. Consequently busses get stuck in general traffic and a key component in mitigating congestion with the Waterview connection goes missing.
This is a consequence when the Government does not do integrated transport when a key transport spine (as the Western Ring Route is) developed. And it will become an expensive consequence to fix when retrofitting for the busway or even a Light Rail Transit line.
Not smart thinking by the Minister of Finance.