The NZ Transport Agency Board has moved to future proof Auckland's transport needs by protecting the route for an additional harbour crossing and approving further funding to complete strengthening work on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
The NZ Transport Agency Board has moved to future proof Auckland’s transport needs by protecting the route for an additional harbour crossing and approving further funding to complete strengthening work on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
NZTA Regional Director for Auckland and Northland Wayne McDonald said the agency was actively managing the operation and maintenance of the bridge to ensure its future viability, and at the same time looking ahead and preparing for the day when the bridge alone is no longer able to meet the city’s needs.
To that end the NZTA Board has approved $41 million in additional funding to complete strengthening work on the box girders supporting the bridge's outer lanes and agreed to lodge notices of requirement to protect the route for an additional harbour crossing.
The notices of requirement were lodged earlier today with Auckland City Council and North Shore City Council, seeking a ‘sub strata’ (underground) designation for four separate tunnels beneath the harbour, two each for road and rail.
Mr McDonald said that protecting the route for a tunnel did not preclude consideration of a new bridge as an alternate crossing, but it was important to seek the sub-strata designation now in order to preserve the tunnel option by protecting the underground route from future development in the Wynyard Quarter.
“The Wynyard Quarter Plan Change is part of an overarching strategy for the entire Auckland waterfront, and it’s important that we ensure the route for an additional harbour crossing is protected in relation to any development associated with the plan change. If we don’t protect the route now future developments could compromise the ability to build another crossing,” he said.
The strengthening works on the Auckland Harbour Bridge began in August 2008 and are expected to be completed next year. The strengthening will bring the box girders up to current design standards and extend their service life, allowing current legal weight trucks to use the clip-on lanes for 20 years or more.
The additional funding for the strengthening (on top of an initial investment of $45 million approved last year) is needed as the project will require 43% more steel than originally estimated, and the complexity of the work has required more labour hours than anticipated.
“The scale and complexity of this project is huge. The initial funding approval was an urgent measure to address an urgent need. As the work has progressed the need for further investment to complete it to the required standard and extend the service life of the bridge has become apparent,” Mr McDonald said.
While the strengthening works would ensure that the bridge can continue to serve as a key link in the state highway network for 20 years or more, it was also important to recognise that the bridge cannot continue to carry heavy vehicles or serve as the city’s main harbour crossing indefinitely.
Mr McDonald said a new engineering report assessing the effects of future traffic growth on the bridge had confirmed that the box girders could not be strengthened any further and the bridge has a finite service life in its current configuration, emphasising the need to secure the future of an additional harbour crossing.
“In 20 years’ time the bridge will be nearing the end of its life as a state highway and the need for a viable additional harbour crossing to efficiently move increasing volumes of freight and a growing population through Auckland will be critical. The process of route protection, funding, design and construction for a new crossing is expected to take up to 20 years – the time to act is now.”
Assessment of effect of future traffic load growth on Auckland Harbour Bridge(external link) (PDF, 539 KB, 22 pages)
For more information:
Auckland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
T 64 9 3682142
M 64 27 2137616