New Harbour Crossing – Don’t Bury The Issue

New Harbour Crossing – Don’t Bury The Issue

Due to a lack of imagination in the lunch creation department, my regular journey to work on Wednesday was interrupted by the need to pop into Pak ‘n’ Save to pick up a can of tuna. Ordinarily this would be a task completed very much on auto-pilot, but I was roused from my usual early morning coma by the presence of a bright red Ferrari parked outside.

I like Ferraris. And I mean really like them in a “physically have to be restrained from licking them” type way, but on Wednesday my usual salivation was put on hold by my brain which was preoccupied with two conundrums. Firstly, seeing as the curb leading into the car park was so humungous that even pedestrians can only contemplate an ascent with the aid of crampons, how on earth did it get there in the first place? And secondly, why is there such a debate about the new Waitemata Harbour crossing?

There is no doubt that due to the fragility of the “Nippon clip-ons” a replacement will be required for the current harbour bridge in the not too distant future, but quite why such a dispute is raging about whether tunnels or a new bridge should be employed is leaving me perplexed.

From a motorist’s perspective, neither option is a stand-out winner. Both will provide a congested place where we can sit in our cars quietly cursing the inevitable lack of foresight shown by accountant-constrained planners in failing to make it twelve lanes wide and both are planned to take a similar route which will have no discernable effect on journey time. This means that from a purely rational point of view the bridge, which will cost somewhere in the region of $1 billion less, is a no brainer.

But people are not rational creatures. We are rash, impetuous, like our hearts thrilled and imaginations challenged despite whatever common sense our brains may be peddling. And this is where the case for a bridge becomes even more compelling.

Cities can be defined by their bridges – San Francisco with the Golden Gate, Venice with the Ponte Vecchio, London with Tower Bridge – which can be architectural works of art, constrained only by the laws of physics and the imagination of their designers. Tunnels are undeniably fascinating to those of us with an interest in engineering, but for the vast majority they remain anonymous, workmanlike and fail to add any sense of spectacle. And for a city like Auckland, struggling to compete with established and emerging hubs of the Pacific region, providing another inspirational, exciting icon that complements the Sky Tower would be a welcome boost in ensuring it remains a place to see and be seen.

While moving people’s bodies will be the primary function, there is a compelling argument for ensuring our new harbour crossing is also an investment in moving their hearts and minds enough to get tourism and business heading towards the Super City.

After all, the Fezza at Pak ‘n’ Save was only doing the same job as the herds of other run of the mill motors, but by being different and achingly beautiful it was the one that left me with a smile on my face and a genuine happiness that I’d been there to see it.

Len Brown might have his reasons to continue pushing the cause for tunnels, but the opportunity to give Auckland another landmark is one we really shouldn’t lightly put to one side. And I reckon that John Key will stand by me on this one. Being a hard-nosed businessman I don’t think for one moment that he’d be swayed by the emotion of my argument, but  fortunately I have a billion more logical reasons to fall back on.

Time for the bridge Auckland deserves?

Due to a lack of imagination in the lunch creation department, my regular journey to work on Wednesday was interrupted by the need to pop into Pak ‘n’ Save to pick up a can of tuna. Ordinarily this would be a task completed very much on auto-pilot, but I was roused from my usual early morning coma by the presence of a bright red Ferrari parked outside.

I like Ferraris. And I mean really like them in a “physically have to be restrained from licking them” type way, but on Wednesday my usual salivation was put on hold by my brain which was preoccupied with two conundrums. Firstly, seeing as the curb leading into the car park was so humungous that even pedestrians can only contemplate an ascent with the aid of crampons, how on earth did it get there in the first place? And secondly, why is there such a debate about the new Waitemata Harbour crossing?

There is no doubt that due to the fragility of the “Nippon clip-ons” a replacement will be required for the current harbour bridge in the not too distant future, but quite why such a dispute is raging about whether tunnels or a new bridge should be employed is leaving me perplexed.

From a motorist’s perspective, neither option is a stand-out winner. Both will provide a congested place where we can sit in our cars quietly cursing the inevitable lack of foresight shown by accountant-constrained planners in failing to make it twelve lanes wide and both are planned to take a similar route which will have no discernable effect on journey time. This means that from a purely rational point of view the bridge, which will cost somewhere in the region of $1 billion less, is a no brainer.

But people are not rational creatures. We are rash, impetuous, like our hearts thrilled and imaginations challenged despite whatever common sense our brains may be peddling. And this is where the case for a bridge becomes even more compelling.

Cities can be defined by their bridges – San Francisco with the Golden Gate, Venice with the Ponte Vecchio, London with Tower Bridge – which can be architectural works of art, constrained only by the laws of physics and the imagination of their designers. Tunnels are undeniably fascinating to those of us with an interest in engineering, but for the vast majority they remain anonymous, workmanlike and fail to add any sense of spectacle. And for a city like Auckland, struggling to compete with established and emerging hubs of the Pacific region, providing another inspirational, exciting icon that complements the Sky Tower would be a welcome boost in ensuring it remains a place to see and be seen.

While moving people’s bodies will be the primary function, there is a compelling argument for ensuring our new harbour crossing is also an investment in moving their hearts and minds enough to get tourism and business heading towards the Super City.

After all, the Fezza at Pak ‘n’ Save was only doing the same job as the herds of other run of the mill motors, but by being different and achingly beautiful it was the one that left me with a smile on my face and a genuine happiness that I’d been there to see it.

Len Brown might have his reasons to continue pushing the cause for tunnels, but the opportunity to give Auckland another landmark is one we really shouldn’t lightly put to one side. And I reckon that John Key will stand by me on this one. Being a hard-nosed businessman I don’t think for one moment that he’d be swayed by the emotion of my argument, but  fortunately I have a billion more logical reasons to fall back on.

Time for the bridge Auckland deserves?

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