Tunnel opening a ‘few weeks away’
The country’s biggest-ever roading project could finally be open in ‘‘the next few weeks’’, Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.
The $1.6 billion Waterview Connection was originally set to open in April, but stalled after it was revealed the motorway tunnel’s fire sprinklers and ventilation fans were faulty.
The 2.4km twin-bore tunnel and ring road will connect Auckland’s northwestern and southwestern motorways and is expected to reduce inner-city traffic. Documents obtained from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) under the Official Information Act redacted the tunnel’s new proposed opening date.
An NZTA spokeswoman said the dates were ‘‘proposed target rather than actual dates,’’ so had been removed on the basis of being free and frank discussions.
‘‘The issues identified during the testing and commissioning phase have now been resolved and a full system test of all the equipment and systems is now underway,’’ the spokeswoman said.
At a post-Budget breakfast in Auckland on May 26, however, Joyce said Waterview would be opening in the next few weeks.
‘‘I’m waiting for NZTA to give us a final date and I’m looking forward to, as I’m sure many Aucklanders are, looking forward to the first opportunity to use that particular piece ture.’’
In late March it was revealed the tunnel’s deluge and ventilation systems weren’t working properly. Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Stephen Selwood said the delay was ‘‘highly undesirable,’’ but sadly believed the Connection wouldn’t open until the school holidays in July, when traffic would be lighter, to prevent it being congested from day one.
‘‘I think they’re fearful of the impact congestion’s going to have on the narrative of the tunnel,’’ he said.
The $1.6 billion tunnel was originally set to open in April.