After many years of planning and five years’ construction, the Waterview Tunnel will open to the public in April. In this post, we tell you a bit about the tunnel and look at what impact it is likely to have on Auckland traffic.

Auckland crush

Traffic congestion costs Auckland about $1.25 billion per annum. At Pink Bins, it certainly has affected our business. For example, a few years ago, if our drivers hit the road early enough, they could avoid the rush. Not anymore. Now, the congestion rarely lets up. Up until last year, our drivers delivered most waste to our depot in Manukau. Today, this is impractical; to avoid wasting time, we have altered our routes to dump part of our waste at other refuse stations.

About the tunnel

The Waterview Tunnel, which is actually two tunnels with three traffic lanes on each, links State Highway 20 to State Highway 16. For the $2.4 billion project, around 10,000 workers were employed and a massive 800,000 cubic metres of earth removed. At 2.4 kilometres long, the tunnel is double the size of Auckland Harbour Bridge and the longest in New Zealand.

Introducing Alice:

Alice is an 87-meter-long boring machine used to drill the Waterview Tunnel. She has a cutting head four stories high and is the 10th largest of her kind in the world.

Western Ring Route

The tunnel is part of the yet-to-be-completed Western Ring Route, when finished in 2019, will connect state highways 20,16 and 18. This will enable motorists to bypass Auckland’s CBD. 

The network will:

  • reduce travel times
  • increase predictability of travel
  • support economic growth and improve business productivity
  • ease the burden on local roads
  • make bus travel more reliable
  • provide quicker travel to Auckland International Airport
  • reduce pollution.

Will the tunnel make a difference?

From what we hear, it won’t have a significant impact — most of the benefits will be realised once the overall Western Ring Route is finished. In the meantime, the tunnel should ease early-morning congestion on the Southern Motorway.

Brett Gliddon, NZTA Auckland Highway Manager, says: There will likely be heavy traffic and queues; however, travel times will decrease.  Matt Lowrie of the Auckland Transport Blog says that the tunnel will mostly benefit those travelling from west to south.

Will the Waterview Tunnel help ease Auckland traffic congestion? We’ll find out in April.

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