Prime Minister Bill English and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the $1.4 billion Waterview Tunnel.
Simon says the Waterview Tunnel completion celebration today marks the biggest change in Auckland's transport system since the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959.
“The Waterview Tunnel is one of the most important infrastructure developments to take place in New Zealand and will help unlock Auckland's potential as a world class city and secure its future economic prosperity,” says Simon.
“The Waterview Tunnel is the final link in the Western Ring Route, a new 48km route linking the west of Auckland, Manukau, the city and the North Shore.
“The Western Ring Route is one of the government's Roads of National Significance and was prioritised because of the contribution it will make to our fastest growing city. It will provide more options to Aucklanders travelling around the city, more efficient links to and from Auckland Airport, Ports of Auckland and inland freight hubs, reducing costs for people and businesses, not only in Auckland, but throughout the country.”
Wider economic benefits are estimated to be worth $430 million, through improved productivity and reduced travel time, and also include the creation of more than 18,000 jobs.
The Waterview Connection includes twin 2.4km-long three-lane tunnels, and a giant motorway interchange at Great North Road to connect the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways.
“This latest connection in Auckland's state highway network will provide a more resilient and reliable motorway network by reducing the current dependence on State Highway 1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
“New bus shoulder lanes will mean more efficient journeys for people using buses to travel to and from the central business district and demonstrate the government's commitment to better public transport.
“Significant upgrades and an extension to the Northwestern Cycleway will provide a safe, separated and enjoyable route for pedestrians and cyclists, between the city and western suburbs.
“This has been a long awaited and eagerly anticipated piece of transport infrastructure envisioned decades ago. I'm thrilled to be opening New Zealand's biggest and most ambitious transport infrastructure project which will help transform Auckland's transport and economic future.”
The official opening will be followed by a number of community events to provide the public an opportunity to experience the twin-tunnels before opening to traffic in early July.