Five options unveiled for second Auckland harbour crossing

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Public feedback sought on ‘scenarios’ for second Auckland harbour crossing which could cost up to €14.3bn.

The New Zealand government has unveiled five scenarios for an additional crossing over Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour. All options would carry light rail from the city centre to the North Shore and beyond.

The new crossing could cost between $NZ15bn (€8.5bn) and $NZ25bn (€14.3bn) depending on the option chosen and includes options for road and rail tunnels and re-use of existing infrastructure.

Construction on the harbour crossing will begin in 2029, 11 years earlier than expected, the New Zealand prime minister Chris Hipkins announced this week. “It’s time to convert the long-awaited dream of a second harbour crossing into a reality,” he said.

The five options on the table include separate road and light rail tunnels, separate and new bridges and combinations of a tunnel and a new bridge alongside the existing harbour bridge. All options accommodate walking and cycling in either the new constructions or on the existing bridge. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is calling the five ‘scenarios’ rather than options, because elements of each can be mixed and matched.

The agency expects the priciest option to be the one with two tunnels, one for road and one for light rail. The cheapest is expected to be the construction of a bridge next to the existing Harbour Bridge, which would carry light rail and accommodate both walking and cycling.

New Zealand transport minister Michael Wood said: “We want an unclogged, connected, and future-proofed transport network so Aucklanders can get to work on time and don’t need to wake up earlier just to get their kids to school – it’s vital that we have a harbour crossing that works for the city.”

The New Zealand government says that the new tunnels would provide “the highest level of resilience, with reduced impacts on the wider transport network” from closures on the current Auckland Harbour Bridge caused by accidents or high winds. It is also claimed that planned new light rail connections will provide economic opportunities by allowing increased development in the Takapuna suburb of the city.

Public feedback will be sought before a final design is chosen in June.

The five scenarios

Scenario 1: A new light rail tunnel across the harbour, through Devonport and Takapuna, with a road tunnel to the east of the existing harbour bridge.

Scenario 2: A new bridge next to the existing bridge for light rail, walking, cycling and three general traffic lanes.

Scenario 3: A new light rail tunnel to the west, curving through Northcote Point before hitting Takapuna, alongside a new road, walking and cycling bridge between Westhaven and Sulphur Beach.

Scenario 4: A new light rail, walking and cycling bridge, with a road tunnel between the central motorway junction and Akoranga Drive.

Scenario 5: A new bridge for light rail, walking and cycling and a road tunnel between the central motorway junction and Akoranga Drive.