Bridge v tunnel for harbour

CROSS SECTION: The Anzac Centenary Group’s bridge design would incorporate public transport elements underneath the traffic.
CROSS SECTION: The Anzac Centenary Group’s bridge design would incorporate public transport elements underneath the traffic.

AN innovative design for a new harbour bridge complete with a tidal-powered travelator, a walkway and a cycleway is being met with interest.

The bridge proposal, put forward by the Anzac Centenary Bridge Group, would span 3km across Waitemata Harbour.

The structure would be at least eight lanes wide with twin tram tunnels underneath the road, a truck lane, a bus lane and pedestrian access.

Group spokesman Richard Simpson, a former chairman of Auckland City Council’s transport committee, says the bridge would cross from Westhaven’s tank farm area to the Onewa Rd interchange.

"The new Anzac centenary bridge would be cheaper to build and operate than the new tunnel or existing bridge option.

"It would carry more cars and trucks, while providing for rail, cyclists and pedestrians.

As part of a 20-year infrastructure plan, the government is looking at the need for a third harbour crossing and the timing of it, details of which could be released late this year or early next year.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce expects that any additional crossing would need to increase the number of lanes and allow for walking and cycling measures.

Mr Joyce viewed the design when it was first mooted and says it’s interesting.

He says he hasn’t formed a view on whether a tunnel or a bridge would be most appropriate.

The bridge group will release technical details of the design on December 3 as part of a feasibility study.

The Anzac bridge is designed to replace the existing one while a tunnel would be in addition – acting as a third clip-on.

Mr Simpson estimates a tunnel would cost around $4 billion versus the bridge at $2b to $3b.

Mr Simpson says the current bridge is "cheap and nasty" with serious fatigue issues.

The new design would free up 360,000 square meters of land and create space in St Marys Bay and Northcote.

The bridge group formed about three months ago and consists of several companies – NZ Steel, Mainzeal, Aspec Properties, Davis Langdon and Jasmax.

The group is aiming for it to be built by Anzac Day 2015.

East Tamaki resident Peter Loveys was one of the original engineers who helped construct the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

"Personally, I didn’t think a lot of it," he says of the new design.

He says from an engineering point of view it looks like "the leaning tower of Auckland".

Mr Loveys says other major centres have motorways around the city edge but Auckland’s motorway runs through the centre.

To balance the western ring route, he says there should be a motorway system around eastern parts of Auckland.

Auckland’s mayors divided

Three of Auckland’s mayors are divided about a new bridge.

- Manukau city mayor Len Brown says the proposal is a worthy option.

“I love the design and the vision it encapsulates,” he says, adding that the potential location is good.

Mr Brown says: “We have to step up beyond where we are with the harbour bridge.

“We need a period of reflection and analysis. It is not time to call the argument one way or the other.”

- North Shore city mayor Andrew Williams says a bridge has been dismissed in favour of a tunnel and mentions environmental impacts it would have on Freemans Bay and Herne Bay.

“Why would we want another bridge? It would be a colossal structure across the harbour.

“Internationally in urban areas the trends are more towards tunnelling.”

He says a rail tunnel would cost less than $2 billion to build and would move commuters off the bridge into rail.

- Auckland city mayor John Banks is not enthusiastic about the bridge. He says because there is a recession it would be difficult to justify ‘such an extravagance’.

Mr Banks says work is continuing on tunnel options for a third harbour crossing. He says the design looks extraordinary but questions if it is the best use of public funds.

Residents speak out on plans

The Central Leader showed images of the bridge concept to Auckland residents to see what they think. Here are some of the responses:

- “It’s nice and modern. Getting over the bridge is always a matter of time.” – Maryam Ghahraman, Epsom

- “It looks fantastic, I like the design. Light rail is so essential. It’s aesthetically pleasing. It depends how ready people are to accept a new bridge.” – Tessa Needham, Waterview

- “It looks nice. I always go the Greenhithe way, it’s more scenic. This idea looks more attractive.” – Caroline McDowell, Blockhouse Bay

- “It’s fantastic. There has to be room for public transport – both rail and bus. We also need transit lanes. I love the glass, people would walk it. If it is feasible, it’s a good idea. I wouldn’t be opposed to having it tolled, they should never have stopped tolling the harbour bridge.” – Stephen Loo, Botany

- “It’s pretty good. Anything is better than the current bridge. It’s pretty awesome to have a tram tunnel.”
–Avneel Ram, Parnell.

- “It’s quite stunning. We need to look forward and not be short-sighted.” – Marilyn Glover, Takapuna

- “The bridge copes okay, it’s the outer lanes that don’t manage. There is no point replacing it.” – Mike Sheehy, Takapuna.

- “It’s a cool idea.” – Rebecca Williams, Takapuna

Auckland City Harbour News