SIMON BRIDGES: Waterview Connection – unlocking Auckland’s transport and economic future
Waterview Connection – unlocking Auckland’s transport and economic future
Written by Minister of Transport, Hon. Simon Bridges - 23rd June 2017
The size of the tunnels is what strikes you first, then the architectural design on the entries to the tunnels, followed by the enormous interchange connecting it all to the Northwestern motorway. The Waterview Connection is a truly impressive piece of infrastructure and one that all New Zealanders can be proud of.
These twin, 2.4km tunnels are easily the most significant transport infrastructure projects to take place in New Zealand since the Auckland Harbour Bridge that opened in 1959. This new connection will help unlock Auckland’s potential as a world class city and secure its future economic prosperity.
I recently heard that when New Zealand first started talking about undertaking a project of this magnitude and complexity, we were told we wouldn’t be able to do it. We were told we didn’t have the skills, expertise, depth or the industry size to complete such a project. I’m happy to report they were wrong. I’ve seen up close just how remarkable this piece of infrastructure really is.
As New Zealanders, there isn’t much we can’t achieve when we set our minds to something. In this case, we need to thank the Well-Connected Alliance that included Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell, Beca Infrastructure, Obayashi Corporation, Parsons Brinkerhoff, and Tonkin & Taylor Ltd. They came together in partnership with the Government and NZ Transport Agency to deliver this fantastic piece of infrastructure. Some 11,000 workers, through their hard work and dedication, delivered this important infrastructure project for New Zealand.
Come early July this latest connection in Auckland’s motorway network will open to traffic. Ultimately it will give road users more options for how people and freight move around and through the city. You’ll now be able to travel on a motorway from Auckland Airport straight into downtown Auckland; or, if you are just passing through Auckland you’ll be able to miss the city centre entirely. These are just two of the many different options road users will be able to consider when planning their journeys once the tunnels open.
A very clear benefit of the Waterview Connection will be the traffic it removes from local roads. The suburbs around the Waterview Connection will notice the difference, but it will have wider impacts as well. The distribution on the Auckland motorway network will be more balanced, providing more resilience and reliability to the transport network.
When the National Party came into Government in 2008 we decided we needed a way to fast-track important transport infrastructure projects. We could see that some projects needed to be constructed and built as quickly as possible, so we developed the Roads of National Significance programme. The $2.4 billion Western Ring Route, which includes the $1.4 billion Waterview Connection, was chosen because of the contribution it would make to our fastest growing city. This programme of work has been hugely successful and the Waterview Connection is the latest piece of infrastructure to be completed.
The Waterview Connection is expected to provide more than just an alternate State Highway through Auckland. It is expected the wider economic benefits will be worth $430 million, through improved productivity and reduced travel time, and including the creation of more than 18,000 jobs.
But it’s not all about roads. We believe in an integrated transport system. We have significantly upgraded and extended the Northwestern Cycleway to provide a safe, separated and enjoyable route for pedestrians and cyclists, between the city and the western suburbs.
This has been a long awaited and eagerly anticipated piece of transport infrastructure envisioned decades ago. I was thrilled to join our Prime Minister Bill English and the Minister of Finance Steven Joyce, to open what is New Zealand’s biggest and most ambitious transport infrastructure project which will help transform Auckland’s transport and economic future.