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Auckland Harbour Bridge vulnerable and at risk

 03 September 2008

Auckland Harbour Bridge vulnerable and at risk

"Today's  damage to the Onewa Road overbridge which closed the southbound lanes of the northern motorway highlights the vulnerability and risk to the Auckland Harbour Bridge" says North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams.

"It just takes one over height truck damaging a strategically located overbridge to cause absolute mayhem on the Northern Motorway and vital access to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. There has been gridlock for half the day due to this incident, at huge cost to the region. It really does highlight the vulnerability of the Harbour Bridge and the fact that we place so much concentration and dependency on one roading access route across the Waitemata Harbour between North Shore City and Auckland City." says Mayor Williams.

"North Shore City has been calling for another harbour crossing for years now, to provide a viable alternative and additional mass transit option for the hundreds of thousands of people who travel both ways across the harbour each and every day of the year. We are working with the NZ Transport Agency, ARC, ARTA, Auckland City, Government and other agencies on the best options for the future. The studies to date indicate that tunneling is the way to go." says Mayor Williams.

"I personally am favouring getting on with building rail tunnels in each direction at a cost of about $1.5 to 2 billion, rather than the more grandiose scheme of road tunnels which are in the $ 4 to 5 billion price range. I believe we should start with getting rail tunnels underway, to link to the future Auckland CBD rail loop and to also connect on to Newmarket, South Auckland and the airport while keeping open the option for road tunnels in subsequent years."

"This week North Shore City Council had a meeting with the NZ Transport Agency and were told that the Harbour Bridge clipons will basically need to be completely replaced within the next 20-25 years. Just imagine the chaos by then, if today's incident is anything to go by, if we have half the harbour bridge closed off for a year or so for a major rebuild. Decisions need to be made sooner not later on moving ahead with the next harbour crossing, as it will take a decade to get tunnels built, so that the Auckland region has that "insurance cover" in place for the Waitemata Harbour. "

"We need less talk and a lot more action from all involved to get this into gear. Moving our people around the Auckland region far more efficiently for work, leisure and education is what will help make this an "international city" not paper shuffling and yet more restructuring for the sake of New Zealand's fetish for ongoing costly restructuring and committees." says Mayor Williams.

The badly damaged Onewa overbridge is to be removed over this weekend, partly closing the northern motorway southbound lanes for much of the weekend. Fortunately this is one of the overbridges that have been made redundent with the current upgrade of the Onewa interchange due to be completed in November 2008.




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