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Moving ahead with mass rapid transit legacy project - Waka Kotahi

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is moving into an important new phase on its key city-shaping transport project to move people across Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour via a mass rapid transit connection.

The Additional Waitemata Harbour Connections project is calling for registrations of interest to investigate reliable, efficient, and sustainable transport options across the harbour.

"This work is an incredibly important part of the commitment to help shape Auckland in the right way for future generations. It’s about giving people options to choose how they want to move around the city, whether it’s by bus, train, car, bike or on foot.It will complete a strategic walking and cycling link adding to the existing rapid transit network and providing more resilience to the roading network," says Waka Kotahi General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon.

It’s the latest phase in developing Auckland’s growing rapid transit network. Last week Waka Kotahi opened the much anticipated $313 million extension to the Northern Busway, connecting Auckland city with Albany on the North Shore via congestion free, dedicated bus lanes and upgraded bus stations.

A successful partnership between Waka Kotahi, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council has paved the way for this next phase of work across the Waitemata Harbour, which will look at a range of options and recommend a preferred way forward for all transport modes - walking and cycling, rapid transit and road. The recommendations will include the form, function, route and timing of future cross harbour connections.

"This project is another important step in our continued investment in keeping us moving," says Jenny Chetwynd, Auckland Transport Executive General Manager of Planning and Investment.

"It’s a critical component of our wider transport system Transport in Tamaki Makaurau that needs to be considered in the context of our future urban growth and land uses. It plays a pivotal role in supporting a city’s economy and quality of life. As our city and population continue to expand planning has already begun to ensure Aucklanders have transport options in the future."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the new harbour connection will be a transformative project for Auckland.

"Just as the Harbour Bridge transformed our city when it was built in the middle of last century, this project will influence how Auckland evolves for generations to come. Finding industry professionals with the right mix of skills, expertise and experience is therefore essential. This will be one of the of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects ever undertaken in New Zealand."

"We’ve been talking to a range of industry professionals both domestically and globally and we already have plenty of interest in working on this complex legacy project," says Brett Gliddon.

The tender and procurement process is being coordinated with Auckland Light Rail (ALR) to give industry professionals the ability to better plan their resources for the significant pipeline of infrastructure work across Auckland.

This follows the Government’s recent announcement in late January to bring forward planning of the Waitemata Connections project to ensure a fully integrated transport network for Auckland. The two mega projects represent a significant investment in a growing Auckland, allowing faster trips and reduced emissions.

Things are moving quickly - this phase of planning work on the Waitemata Connections project will start in late 2022 and a preferred way forward will be determined in late 2023.

The project will be a substantial city-shaping undertaking, and comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement is considered critical to its success, with engagement campaigns planned for the second half of 2022 to give people the opportunity to help shape the project as it moves forward.

"We need to make sure the city grows in the right way to unlock access to growing community, residential and employment hubs, whilst considering urban regeneration opportunities," says Brett Gliddon.

"The long-term solutions are likely to require significant investment and involve complex, large-scale construction, anticipated to take more than 15 years of design and construction work."

Although the long-term solutions may take some time to deliver, Auckland Transport is already progressing enhancements to the Northern Busway to help keep up with growing bus patronage and ease pressure on the motorway network.

"Although Auckland Light Rail and Additional Waitemata Harbour Connections will have a coordinated procurement approach, both projects will be delivered separately due to differing objectives, outcomes and completion times, however they will work together to ensure a fully integrated transport network is created for a growing region," says Mr Gliddon.

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