Preliminary work for the City Rail Link (CRL) started on 21 December with a dawn blessing of the work site.
About 80 people gathered on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets in the central city as kaumatua blessed the worksite between Swanson and Wellesley streets where the first part of the $2.5 billion project has begun.
The start of the CRL project is timely as Aucklanders increasingly choose to use public transport to travel around the city.
City Rail Link a milestone for Auckland
CRL project director Chris Meale says the start of work was a great milestone for Auckland Transport (AT) and the project team.
“Today was a celebration, but for most Aucklanders, the first piece of work will be largely invisible. A replacement stormwater pipe will be built under Albert Street so that the existing one can be removed when work on the CRL tunnels starts in the middle of next year.”
The transport project Auckland has needed for almost 100 years
Those gathered, including Mayor Len Brown, acknowledged that it was a day that Aucklanders have been contemplating for almost a century.
“In 1923 Railways Minister Gordon Coates gave his support for a city-to-Morningside underground rail line that never happened. In the 1970s, Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson's rapid-rail proposal met a similar fate,” says the mayor.
“Today’s blessing means that in the coming months, Aucklanders will see the CRL starting to take shape.”
Traffic disruption likely from mid-2016
Mr Meale says when the works start in earnest midway through next year, people would have to think about how they travel to and through the city.
“Public transport or active modes will be wisest but for those who don’t have that option, using parking buildings closest to city entry points will be sensible rather than driving through the city,” says Mr Meale.