Opinion: 'Fuming in idling traffic' - Dire prediction ahead of Auckland's Waterview Tunnel opening

Aucklanders will get their first look at the Waterview tunnels from this weekend, with a series of public open days. 1 NEWS reporter Will Hine has visited the tunnels half a dozen times since construction began and says their scale will astound motorists. But, will they ease congestion in the city?

The $1.4b Waterview tunnels will soon complete a long awaited link in the roading network. Source: 1 NEWS

It's safe to say minds will be boggled on Sunday afternoon. 

The public of Auckland, or at least those people with a ticket, will descend beneath suburbia and walk along an underground motorway. 

The three-lane tunnels are a sight to behold, swerving down and under Owairaka at one end and Waterview at the other.

Visitors may have little idea of what to expect; while the new flyovers at the northern end have soared higher and higher into the sky, the construction of the tunnels themselves has been relatively invisible.

Life ticked along in the houses and businesses above as Alice the tunnel boring machine inched along beneath the surface, working her magic. 

The end product is an engineering feat, the likes of which are rarely seen on these shores. 

Each of the two tunnels is 2400 metres long. 

They're the longest in New Zealand, beating the 1970-metre Lyttelton tunnel. 

In comparison, Wellington's Mt Victoria tunnel is a meagre 623 metres and Auckland's Victoria Park Tunnel is just 440 metres.

Critically, the connection completes a missing piece in Auckland's roading jigsaw, forming an underground bridge between the Northwestern and Southwestern motorways.

There's no secret Auckland's traffic problems are dire. So what's really up with the Waterview Tunnel? Source: Seven Sharp

But, any excitement surrounding the new route will soon wear off for commuters planning on using the tunnels at peak time. 

Auckland's newest stretch of motorway is likely to become Auckland's newest parking lot where the tunnels meet the Northwestern.

City workers from Mangere Bridge, Mount Roskill and Hillsborough will compete for space on a route that's already oversubscribed by commuters from Henderson, Helensville and Te Atatu.

Yes, the underground motorways will be a boon for those travelling during off-peak hours. 

Trips between the city and airport will often be quicker and the journey between South Auckland and West Auckland will also improve. 

And, neighbourhood streets will become quieter and safer as drivers opt to use the tunnels instead. 

All good outcomes.

But during commuting hours, the tunnels will simply shift pinch points to new parts of the motorway network.

It's a result that will have motorists sitting and fuming in idling traffic, wondering why some of the $1.4 billion construction cost wasn't spent on public transport instead.

So, Aucklanders, savour the opportunity to walk and bicycle through the tunnels in the next two weeks. 

Marvel at the engineering expertise required to build such an ambitious piece of infrastructure. 

Then, brace for the inevitable delays as the route suffers the same sort of congestion seen on every other motorway around the city.