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Auckland harbour tunnels plan: Nothing but a 'pipe dream', mayor says

The Auckland mayor has come out swinging against the government's plans for a second harbour crossing, claiming it to be a "pipe dream".

It comes after Labour announced plans for three tunnels across Waitematā Harbour - two for vehicles and one for light rail - and a cost of up to $45 billion.

It received mixed reactions - with one North Shore community leader saying it could be pivotal for the area but questioning if it would ever get off the ground given its cost.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Simon Bridges was questioning the traffic benefits Labour said it would deliver, and said the plans needed to make a difference on traffic times for the cost to be justified.

National Party transport spokesperson Simeon Brown called the plan "desperate politics" and said light rail never "stacked up".

Transport Minister David Parker defended the project, saying it should be seen as a phased multi-decade investment.

Chris Hipkins, David Parker and Carmel Sepuloni at the announcement of the plan on 6 August.

The government announces its plan. Photo: Lucy Xia / RNZ

But Auckland mayor Wayne Brown told Nine to Noon it was simply "part of the long interference in Auckland by Wellington politicians and their idiot bureaucrat mates".

"They say it'll be built in 10 years time or something rather, well none of those people are going to be in power so you can promise what you like, you can promise hot air balloons…"

Brown said the focus should be on transport projects to fix the current issues in Auckland.

"Every day, State Highway 1 jams up in the morning and the evening between Penrose and Greenlane. State Highway [16] jams up every day at the same time between Te Atatū and Lincoln Road.

"The Dome Valley up north is an absolute shocker and slow to get through, the North Shore, the problems aren't getting over the bridge, it's State Highway 1 around Constellation Drive and Lake Road are the problems."

A map showing Waka Kotahi's preferred option for light rail.

A map showing Waka Kotahi's preferred option for light rail. Photo: Waka Kotahi / Supplied

He said he wanted to deal with practical things - not "pipe dreams".

Brown said the Auckland Harbour Bridge was not the problem and runs freely "all the time".

"At some stage in the future there will be one (another harbour crossing) but why it has to be a tunnel … even our grandfather's knew that you could build bridges a lot cheaper than tunnels for a start."

Brown took aim at the partnership Auckland Council had with the government - saying it was more "like the guy who owns the cotton fields is in partnership with the slaves".

"We want to be genuine partners."

While the government said Auckland Council was consulted about the plan for the second harbour crossing, Brown did not agree.

He said the consultation consisted of a group showing up "a month ago" and telling the council what it had been doing the last few years.

"That's not consultation. That's telling us after the fact."

Brown said he wanted the government to treat Auckland as the major city that it was and speak to Auckland Council about what its residents wanted.

"It's not just a freebie to throw around ideas to get elected, thank you."

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