A Bridge Too Far (+video)

December 17th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Despite prodigious temptation to the contrary I have, so far, managed to avoid devoting an entire week’s article to the subject of the Victoria Park Tunnel. Yes, there may have the odd snipe about the intellectual capacity of the average Jafa motorist not being up to the distinctly un-taxing concept of subterranean motoring, but by and large I have left the subject well alone.

One driving factor behind this decision was the sheer volume of work devoted to the matter already. And there are only so many ways the motoring press can articulate their frustrations about the mush-brained, oxygen thieving, wastes of space who navigate a certain section of State Highway 1 without a degree of monotony setting in.

What NZTA says you'll see (NZTA graphic)

But even more importantly, the tunnel really isn’t the big news. Yes, it may be irksome now that every afternoon the main arterial road of the country is slowed to a crawl by people apparently on the lookout for Taniwha, but trust me this will be a drop in the ocean compared to the chaos that will be caused on 9th January.

The more observant amongst you may have noticed that this is the date on which the new dual flyover arrangement taking southbound traffic over Victoria Park opens; splitting traffic going to the CBD, State Highway 16 and continuing on State Highway 1.

The roadway planners must clearly have thought they were onto a good thing. Traffic heading onto the harbour bridge would have plenty of time to position itself correctly, thus ensuring three orderly flows of vehicles can dissolve one of the most problematic bottlenecks in Auckland.

Sadly, the roadway planners were wrong. Anyone travelling south from the North Shore will be all too aware that before their first early morning latté it is a minor miracle if the average Auckland motorist is aware enough to get changed out of their pyjamas before leaving the house, never mind make a conscious decision about which is the correct lane to be in. Even now, when the option is much more limited, there is a constant concertina of braking cars as someone remembers at entirely the wrong moment that their journey plans for the day involve Hamilton and not Queen Street.

What Jafas see

With this choice soon to be multiplied, it wouldn’t surprise me if some become so confused – this is happening on what will be the first hazy day back after Christmas for many – that they simply abandon their cars and start walking. And from what we have learnt from the tunnel, even those who manage to get their heads around the concept of following road signs are likely to slow down to the speed of a tree sloth in particularly uncomfortable shoes in order to really appreciate the new set up. For bloody weeks on end.

Given the contempt Aucklanders are treated with by much of the nation it pains me to admit it but, when it comes to motoring at least, we’re simply too stupid to cope with this level of change.

Although on the upside, it should stop everyone moaning about the tunnel for a while. That is until they open the third lane anyway.