14 Nov 2022

New Auckland harbour crossing debate rolls on as government asks public for views

6:58 pm on 14 November 2022
Auckland Harbour Bridge

The government has asked Aucklanders what they think should be done to help their commute. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Like a bridge over troubled waters, the debate for a second harbour crossing in Auckland rolls on.

The government has opened up consultation to see what residents in the city of sails want to help ease their commute.

Minister of Transport Michael Wood has opened consultation on the issue, asking if a new bridge or tunnel for Waitematā Harbour could be the way to go.

Last year the government scrapped a $785 million walking and cycle bridge.

Now it has gone back to the drawing board and whether it is a bridge or tunnel, toll-free or not, many commuters say as long as it breaks up traffic, they are for it.

Auckland councillor Richard Hills said the second crossing had to deliver for residents.

Whether it was a bridge or tunnel did not matter as long as it got done quickly, Hills, who crossed harbour every day to get to work, said.

"It feels like we've been talking about it for a very long time.

"It's a priority for myself and our community, so we just want to get on with it really."

Hills wanted a decision by the middle of next year, and time was ticking on submissions.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Bridges felt the same.

A second harbour crossing was something that the city would need for the future, he said.

"Time is of the essence because the demand is at a level already, it will absolutely still be there when this nation building project, really, is finished."

However, Auckland mayor Wayne Brown said the idea of another crossing was not a pressing priority.

While he believed it was encouraging to see the government listening to Aucklanders, it was the public transport crisis he had had his sights on first.

Brown said as many Aucklanders as possible should collaborate and share their thoughts, just as he would be doing as a private citizen.

Public Transport Users Association national coordinator Jon Reeves said there was one major factor to consider.

"This next crossing really needs to be dedicated to public transport, because at the end of the day that's how our city is going to grow and move people around," he said.

It was not light rail the crossing should incorporate, but heavy rail as it had the capacity to move more people, Reeves said.

Waka Kotahi is holding a series of community engagement events before the end of 2022 at Britomart Community Market (Saturday 19 November), Highbury Night Markets (Sunday 27 November), Takapuna Christmas Carnival (Saturday 3 December) and Grey Lynn Farmers' Market (Sunday 11 December).

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