Report: Breathe easy
AIR quality will be the same or slightly better after the opening of a new Waterview motorway tunnel, a draft report shows.
The study used computer modelling to show the tunnel will reduce traffic on local roads, which will compensate for the tunnel fumes.
But Waterview Primary School still has concerns about traffic levels in the suburb and the site of the tunnel vents, which could be 25 metres high.
It wants the New Zealand Transport Agency to commit to the more expensive option of filtering the tunnel fumes.
Board of trustees member Justin Newcombe says the report doesn’t look at how traffic patterns will change if the tunnel is tolled.
He says some drivers will leave the motorway at Waterview in order to avoid the toll, putting more traffic on local roads.
“There’s no reference to anything like that in their report,” he says.
Mr Newcombe also thinks the study may have underestimated the number of trucks using the new route.
“They say in the report that a truck has 50 times the emissions of a normal car,” he says. “That’s quite alarming.” Waterview Primary principal Brett Skeen says he still has “huge concerns”.
“We can’t understand why they can’t just filter the air. That’s our bottom line, for the health of the people of Waterview and the children at the school.”
The study produced for the New Zealand Transport Agency looked at 26 sensitive sites around the tunnel openings, including schools, childcare centres and hospitals.
It found the air quality at most locations would be the same or slightly better.
Locations very close to the tunnel openings, where roads would be busier, would be slightly worse off.
These include St Francis Primary School, which backs on to the northwestern motorway.
The modelling showed the motorway and some arterial roads, including Pt Chevalier Rd, Carrington Rd and Great North Rd, would have more traffic.
But the reduction on local roads means the overall effect is about the same level of air pollution, even accounting for the tunnel fumes.
Air quality would be better with a three-lane tunnel in each direction, rather than two, because traffic would flow freely and vehicles would stop and start less.
Fumes will be blown along the tunnels in the direction of traffic flow, and vented through stacks at each end.
Project manager Clive Fuhr says the study will be presented to key stakeholders and the community and the findings reported back to the board in November.
He says there are still issues to work through around vent location and design.
“We’re trying to be transparent and help people understand the issue,” he says.
It’s expected the notice of requirement for the tunnel will be lodged with Auckland City Council by the end of November.
A public workshop will be held at the Waterview Methodist Church tomorrow at 7pm. The report is available at www.nzta.govt.nz.