Tun­nel tour draws thou­sands

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - JACK­SON THOMAS

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple walked through Auck­land’s 2.4km, $1.4 bil­lion Water­view Tun­nel on Sun­day.

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English opened the tun­nel with a rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mony be­fore thou­sands of pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists, who booked the event out within hours, made their way through the im­pres­sive piece of in­fra­struc­ture.

‘‘This a very ex­cit­ing day for Auck­land,’’ English said.

‘‘It has been 60 years in the mak­ing and there are many other ma­jor projects in the pipe­line. I know the pub­lic will re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it, and I hope they’ll have a real sense of own­er­ship with this next step.’’

The mas­sive road­ing project was ear­marked to open at Easter, but holdups due to a fault with the tun­nel’s jet fan and wa­ter ex­trac­tion pump sys­tem have meant ve­hi­cles won’t be al­lowed in un­til early July.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges touted the tun­nel as the big­gest change to Auck­land traf­fic flows since the open­ing of the Har­bour Bridge. He too ac­knowl­edged work­ers at the open­ing cer­e­mony.

‘‘We re­ally need to thank the work­ers, some 11,000 peo­ple have worked on this tun­nel - 1800 a day at its peak,’’ Bridges said.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, thou­sands be­gan to pile through the en­trance of the tun­nel as Auck­land mayor Phil Goff greeted the ex­cited crowd at the en­trance.

One spec­ta­tor said it was a fab­u­lous ex­pe­ri­ence and a great piece of engi­neer­ing.

When asked why he wanted to be one of the first to walk through he said: ‘‘I just had to, it’s a part of Auck­land his­tory.’’

The tun­nel and as­so­ci­ated ring road will con­nect Auck­land’s north­west­ern and south­west­ern mo­tor­ways.

They are the fi­nal links in the 48km Western Ring Route, which is ex­pected to re­duce in­ner-city traf­fic by of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive to the Har­bour Bridge, that skirts the Waitem­ata Har­bour.

The tun­nels are the long­est road tun­nels in New Zealand – the Lyt­tle­ton road tun­nel at 1.97km pre­vi­ously held the record.

The NZTA said while the tun­nels are not de­signed to re­move con­ges­tion al­to­gether, the Western Ring Route as a whole will pro­vide a bet­ter bal­ance of traf­fic flows across the en­tire net­work and will help re­move cars from lo­cal roads.

It will also pro­vide more trans­port op­tions in­clud­ing bus lanes and walk­ing and cy­cling con­nec­tions.


The Water­view tun­nel was of­fi­cially opened with a pub­lic walk through on Sun­day. Si­mon Bridges

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