March 26, 2012
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) opened the third and final lane of the Victoria Park Tunnel (VPT) in the city of Auckland. This lane, as with the two that first went into service the previous year, carries northbound motor vehicle traffic on that segment of New Zealand State Highway 1 (SH 1). Southbound traffic along that stretch of SH 1 is now handled by the Victoria Park Viaduct, which was opened in 1962. The 1,477-foot (450-meter)-long VPT mostly runs underneath Victoria Park, a park and sports ground dating back to 1905; the viaduct carries its traffic above Victoria Park.
Work on VPT began early in 2010 to help reduce major traffic congestion in that part of New Zealand’s largest city. NZTA, in what was a key component of this project, placed a high priority on extensive community engagement because of the planned tunnel’s proximity to people’s homes and the Auckland central business district.
Helen Cook, the community and stakeholder liaison for the VPT project, described these outreach efforts in a 2011 article appearing in the NZTA’s newsletter Pathways. Cook said, “In the 12 months since tunnel construction began we have produced nearly 150 community updates to tell residents what’s coming up and how they might be affected, hosted 70 visits to the site, and held numerous meetings with local residents and businesses.”
VPT’s final lane made its debut three months ahead of schedule. Tommy Parker, NZTA’s state highways manager for that region of New Zealand, emphasized the potential benefits of VPT in a media release issued a week before the tunnel was fully opened to traffic. He characterized the VPT project as part of an “investment to help make driving easier on the most heavily congested section of our network.”
For more information on the Victoria Park Tunnel, please check out https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh1-victoria-park-tunnel/.