Tun­nel de­lays raise sus­pi­cions

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JACK­SON THOMAS

Auck­land coun­cil­lor Chris Darby says he is ‘‘sus­pi­cious’’ about NZTA’s rea­sons for de­lays be­hind the $1.2 bil­lion Water­view Con­nec­tion.

The North Shore ward coun­cil­lor has his own the­ory on why Auck­lan­ders have been made to wait un­til ‘‘early July’’ for it to open and it re­lates to an­other bil­lion Auck­land in­fra­struc­ture project - the con­tro­ver­sial East West Link.

Darby, one of five com­mit­tee mem­bers set to fi­nalise Auck­land Coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion on the East West Link to a board of en­quiry, said while he was will­ing to take NZTA at their word, the tim­ing of the tun­nel de­lays made him sus­pi­cious.

The East West Link is a cen­tral Auck­land road­ing project aimed to ad­dress­ing trans­port is­sues be­tween ma­jor in­dus­trial hubs in the city.

The Water­view Con­nec­tion, the fi­nal link in the Western Ring Route, was ear­marked to open in April, but holdups due to a fault with the tun­nel’s jet fan and wa­ter ex­trac­tion pump sys­tem meant ve­hi­cles won’t be al­lowed in un­til early July.

The Water­view Con­nec­tion de­lays were ‘‘in­ex­tri­ca­bly’’ linked to the timetable of the East West Link pro­posal board of en­quiry hear­ing, which be­gins on June 27, Darby said.

‘‘They are linked. You sim­ply can­not look at ma­jor road­ing projects like this in iso­la­tion,’’ Darby said.

Darby said that the three month de­lay with the Water­view Con­nec­tion meant traf­fic data that could have been col­lected and used at the hear­ing, was now not avail­able.

Traf­fic mod­el­ling for the East West Link fac­tored in traf­fic mod­el­ling for the Western Ring Route, Darby said.

‘‘Mod­el­ling is very lim­ited, the best ev­i­dence is ev­i­dence and be­cause of these de­lays, we don’t have any.’’

An NZTA spokesper­son said coun­cil­lor Darby’s the­ory was ‘‘sim­ply not ac­cu­rate’’ and that the rea­sons for the de­lays had been clearly ex­plained.

‘‘The Water­view Con­nec­tion has been in con­struc­tion for five years and while the open­ing de­lay was dis­ap­point­ing, short de­lays are not un­com­mon for such a large scale and com­plex con­struc­tion pro­gramme,’’ the spokesper­son said.

‘‘Test­ing iden­ti­fied an in­ter­mit­tent fault in the tun­nel’s jet fan and wa­ter ex­trac­tion pump sys­tem which re­quires a change in soft­ware.’’

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