Lobby groups support rail crossing option for Harbour Bridge

Auckland transport campaigners say the car should be completely ignored in favour of rail when a decision is made on a second harbour crossing.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge

A new assessment of options for a proposed tunnel under Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour leans in favour of a light rail-only link.

The Transport Agency report says building a tunnel only for light rail would have the best downtown traffic outcomes, if combined with some form of road pricing.

Adding road lanes to a future tunnel is estimated to send an extra 3,500 vehicles into the CBD each morning rush-hour, and severely congest approaches to both the tunnel and the existing harbour bridge.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has proposed three transport scenarios to complement the Harbour Bridge in Auckland. 

The bridge, which has connected Auckland’s city centre to the North Shore for 60 years, is reaching capacity during peak hours. 

“Outside peak traffic periods, [Auckland Harbour Bridge] daily traffic flow has increased by approximately 2 percent per year since 2008,” a report says. “Daily flow sometimes exceeds 200,000 vehicles.”

Morning and afternoon traffic is ballooning as the city’s population increases each year, and the NZTA is now considering three options to help ease the load. 

In a Ministerial Briefing Note, the NZTA says it’s considering three options.

  • Build a tunnel for light rail
  • Build a tunnel for both light rail and vehicles
  • Don’t do anything 

A tunnel carrying both light rail and road lanes would create congestion southbound, and severe congestion north of the bridge, requiring further motorway widening.

Morning peaks remain congested with both light rail, and the light rail/road options, even with road pricing.

The light rail-only option delivers slightly higher travelling speeds on roads across Auckland, than a tunnel also including roads.

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