The $340m Victoria Park Tunnel (VPT) is one of seven state highway projects identified by the government as a road of national significance and as essential to New Zealand’s economic prosperity. VPT is the first of these projects to be constructed.
Construction began in late 2009 and is due to be completed in March 2012. However, the tunnel itself will open earlier – in November 2011.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project will increase the vehicle carrying capacity over the 2.2 kilometres of State Highway 1 between the Wellington Street overbridge and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. This is one of the busiest sections of road in New Zealand for both personal and business trips.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project includes:
- a 450-metre cut and cover tunnel through Victoria Park to carry three lanes of northbound traffic
- refurbishment of the Victoria Park viaduct to provide four lanes for southbound traffic
- motorway widening to five lanes in each direction through St Marys Bay
- a citybound bus lane through St Marys Bay
- improved cycling and walking access St Marys Bay to the CBD
- preservation of the historic Rob Roy Hotel in new public square
- restoration of the historic Campbell Free Kindergarten in Victoria Park
- art incorporated on retaining walls and barriers, landscaping and planting
- noise walls adjacent to Freemans Bay and through St Marys Bay
- Victoria Park, including a new skatepark, reinstated on top of the tunnel.
The tunnel project addresses the last major bottleneck on State Highway 1 between the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Newmarket. That bottleneck is the Victoria Park viaduct, the only section of Auckland’s central motorway network with just two lanes in each direction.
Auckland's central motorway improvements.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project will realise the full benefits of the Central Motorway Improvements suite of projects. It will provide the same number of lanes approaching and leaving the Auckland Harbour Bridge and will match the capacity provided by the Central Motorway Junction and Grafton Gully projects. VPT will therefore improve the efficiency of the entire network including the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Improved travel times
The current southbound capacity of the Victoria Park viaduct is 4,250 vehicles per hour, but demand in the morning peak is much greater. The result is significant congestion resulting in drivers sitting in stop-start traffic. This in turn results in frustration for drivers, costs to businesses whose goods and workers are delayed, increased air pollution from vehicles which are constantly accelerating and decelerating, and greater chances of nose-to-tail collisions.
Once the tunnel is built, the motorway’s southbound capacity across Victoria Park will increase to 6,000 vehicles per hour. This is expected to save drivers up to 20 minutes on their trips during peak periods.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project is expected to deliver significant growth benefits to the region and country by improving access to markets and giving freight operators more reliable access across the Waitemata Harbour through to the Port and Auckland CBD.
The Auckland Harbour Bridge is the primary freight route through the region and freight accounts for approximately 5 per cent of the total traffic (8,300 freight movements per day) that uses the harbour bridge. Most of this traffic continues across the Victoria Park viaduct and through to the Central Motorway Junction.
The project is also expected to deliver significant economic benefits to the region during construction. The NZ Transport Agency’s brief to the Alliance specifies an early start and early delivery, which results in a peak monthly spend much higher that of any previous roading project – up to $20 million a month at one point.
There will be more local walking and cycling options as a result of the Victoria Park Tunnel project. A new walkway will be built around St Marys Bay, linking to the historic Jacobs Ladder and to a new foot bridge over the motorway to Westhaven.
The motorway’s visual impact on the local environment will be mitigated by landscaping and by incorporating art into the barriers and retaining walls.
Urban design improvements will include a new public plaza, with the landmark Rob Roy Hotel at its centre at the Franklin Road/Victoria Street West intersection, while skateboarders will get a new skatepark as part of the restoration of Victoria Park following the tunnel construction.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project will be completed three months early, in March 2012. The tunnel itself will open to two lanes of traffic in November 2011.
View details of the Victoria Park Tunnel programme diagram [PDF, 231 KB]