6 Dec 2023

Report recommends councillors don't support plan for second Auckland harbour crossing

8:44 am on 6 December 2023
The Auckland Harbour Bridge

Photo: 123rf

The previous government's plan for a second harbour crossing in Auckland does not have the support of the transport agencies tasked with taking on the project.

A report to Auckland Council's transport committee shows the tunneled crossing would cost $56 billion and does not have the Ministry of Transport or Auckland Transport's support.

Labour plans are for three tunnels across Waitematā Harbour - two for vehicles and one for light rail.

When it was announced earlier this year, then government ministers said it was expected to cost up to $45 billion and be built over decades.

At the time, Auckland mayor Wayne Brown told RNZ "they say it'll be built in 10 years' time or something rather, well none of those people are going to be in power so you can promise what you like, you can promise hot air balloons…"

The new report, by the council's principal transport advisor Elise Webster, recommends councillors do not support the second harbour crossing plan, when they meet to discuss it on Thursday.

Webster said the plan would cost more than double the government's 10-year investment in Auckland's entire transport system, and have "significant affordability and value-for-money issues".

"Given the sheer scale of the investment it is important to invest at the right time. However, the exact timing of the different components of the WHC project and its implications remain unclear," the report stated.

It also said Waka Kotahi was investigating cheaper alternatives, for the transport agency's board to consider this month.

"Note that Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's work on lower-cost alternatives is an opportunity to investigate the discarded and other options."

The coalition government has not yet stated its position on the project, called Waitematā Harbour Connections.

Council staff proposed "seeking the government's commitment to several smaller, earlier, project improvements" such as bus and cycleways and better links between bus stations and ferry terminals.

"These could be progressed without precluding future options and could provide real benefits for Aucklanders by making better use of the existing system whilst awaiting further decisions on the Waitemata Harbour Connections project," the report said.

"Improvements could be started immediately and completed in the coming decade but would need specific project funding."

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