There’s a small town some hour or so north of Wellington, by commercial jet, called Auckland. Small town, big suburbs, not much of a city. Normally they don’t make it onto the Eye of the Fish web cam, but then again, they have 2 harbours whereas we just have one, and that makes my tiny flippers quiver. The news for Auckland today means I feel for them, in a fishy kind of way.

Not because they have John Banks as a mayor – they were silly enough to vote for him – twice – so they deserve whatever they get.

Not because they are having a so-called super-city thrust upon them – with or without maori representation, you just know that the poorer suburbs are going to get shafted.

And not because they can’t get to work on time in the morning – because they have a propensity to build motorways all over their isthmus, which is as painful a process to watch as it sounds.

It’s because (and this should be no surprise to anyone, but it still seems to be a surprise to some Aucklanders) the Government is planning to build a ground level / localised cut and cover motorway with some tunnels under major roads through Mount Albert, rather than a big underground tunnel. There are one or two reasons why they wanted a tunnel: it was going under an existing neighbourhood; and it happened to be Helen Clark’s neighbourhood.
There are also one or two reasons why it was never going to happen: the National Government are in now; and it happened to be Helen Clark’s neighbourhood. Plus there was the issue of cost. In motorway terms, its something like this:
Ground Level = expense
Cuttings = more expense
Bridges = even more expense
Tunnels = heaps more expense
I feel for Aucklanders today because although it was patently obvious there was never going to be a tunnel, for the good of the community that sits either side of the road, a tunnel would have been so much better. I feel for them because we had the same thing happen to us in Wellington – after years of talking about it, we finally got an inner city bypass aka a motorway at street level. And it is crap. Sadly, despite what we were promised, and what Transit / LTSA promised, it’s now reasonably clear to most people that what we have is not the best solution in terms of either:
Traffic flow (stop start congestion all day long)
Pedestrian flow (cuts the city in two)
Urban Design (some of the more pointless patches of grass and big concrete walls do not a pleasant place maketh)

Green Party candidate Russel Norman said the Government was going to bulldoze a motorway through the electorate:

“It is 1950s dinosaur thinking to hammer a motorway through the heart of a residential area,”

I know we can’t afford a $2 billion tunnel through a small Auckland Labour electorate.
I also know that a ground level motorway will absolutely kill the suburb. Taking up the cudgel is proliferate Auckland blogger Joshua Arbury.
And you should all know by now that there is no way a $1 billion road up a Gully is ever going to happen in Wellington. And it never was. But certainly now: it never will.
Post script amendment: I got it wrong, or at least partly wrong. Transit haven’t gone for the completely ground level option, as per Wellington, but instead have gone for a mix of both surface, tunnels, and cut&cover. Logically, they have put areas in tunnels where it cuts under major roads (see pix above). Also, logically for them, they’ve put it at ground level /cut and cover where it goes past something bothersome like Unitec – the former mental hospital / current university. And lastly, just to show their complete contempt for the environment in that fantastic way that Auckland does, they’ve put it straight through those bothersome bits of greenery like Hendon Park, Alan Wood Reserve, edge of Oakley Creek Reserve. Cos that’s just plants and stuff. And there’s a fair bit of wailing about 365 houses being destroyed to make way for it all. But at least they saved a billion or more.
As local residents were vocally pointing out on National Radio yesterday, and our local blogger DavidP was pointing out here, if it’s all underground then you can re-use the land on top, and sell it off again – so getting all those houses back.

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