Matthew Dearnley's excellent story about the Waterview Connection in today's Herald makes a very interesting point. Through all the furore about how and where the western ring route would be completed and what would run under and over the ground, hardly anyone really understood how bloody big this thing is going to be. It's now becoming apparent.
I've gained some sort of insight in recent weeks by cycling around the north and south ends of of the planned 2.8km tunnel. Even the preparatory works are vast. And the feature pic on this Waterview Connection fan page (shouldn't it have an anthropomorphised personal Twitter account too?) made me do a double-take.
Not long after we bought our house in Point Chevalier, in the late 1990s, some Auckland City Council officials tried to slide through a plan for a second harbour crossing that ran, quite literally, past our back fence. It would connect the northwestern motorway directly with the North Shore, via Meola Reef, which would be buried under piles of concrete, along with half the neighbourhood. It wasn't such much transport planning as sociopathy.
Our transport planner friend assured us that there was not in fact a chance of hell of it actually happening -- not least because Les Mills, the mayor of the day, lived up the end of the Point. And it did not.
Waterview and Avondale residents went through their own grief with this project, which will connect with the northwestern a kilometre from the Point Chev shops. I don't envy them, but this project does seem, like (ironically) the CBD Rail Link, a rational project that will increase network capacity. I'm glad some sense prevailed on the more destructive proposals.
I do fear that my little stretch of SH16 will -- between the CBD and the Chev -- will, however, be much busier when the project is complete. Each extension of the southwestern motorway has made the journey to Auckland Airport quicker and once it's completely connected, it's going to be the fastest way to the airport from the CBD and points north and west of it. I'll be able to wave to David Slack on his way through.
On the other hand: cycleway! Riding from one harbour to another -- across New Zealand! -- is going to get pretty easy, although the steep hill northbound to Hillsborough will still deter many casual cyclists. They could fix that, you know.
But I'm sure there are readers who know more about this than me. Are my assumptions correct? What about the causeway upgrade? How is it all going to unfold now?