With the Darby Street shared space now completed and open, it’s worth looking at the next major shared space that will be completed in the relatively near future: Fort Street. Work down there is coming along quite nicely:

Fort Street is most definitely a bigger job than Darby Street was – as the road is much wider and also quite a bit busier. There’s still a reasonable amount of work left to do, but as you can see in the above photos quite a lot of the paving is now completed.

One particularly interesting thing about Fort Street is that it used to effectively be the beach, until the first round of reclamation (between Fort and Customs Street) which took place in the 1850s. It wasn’t until the 1880s that the waterfront was pushed out even further to Quay Street. So as part of the design of the street there have been some attempts to highlight that Fort Street was once the shoreline. I’m not sure how well you can see in the image below, but there’s blue text saying MOANA (water in Maori) when you’re facing the sea and green text saying WHENUA (land in Maori) when you’re looking the other way: In some places there’s still quite a bit to be done: The above photo highlights one of the weaknesses with share spaces – in that they require a complete rebuild of the road, both above ground and below, and therefore are inevitably really expensive (as well as taking quite a long time).

I’m really hopeful for Fort Street – and I think it has the potential to become very much the “flagship” shared space. Already there are quite a lot of eateries along the southern northern side of the road and those numbers are only likely to increase when the project is completed. Perhaps my biggest worry is whether there will be too much traffic using the street – as a number of turning restrictions (particularly no right turn from Customs Street into Queen Street) mean that vehicles end up using Fort Street quite a bit. Perhaps when Jean Batten Place (see photo below) is reopened it could funnel traffic away from Fort Street and towards Shortland Street. In any case, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the finished product with Fort Street. It has so much potential in becoming a really awesome part of the city and I think the shared space project will be the catalyst for that happening.

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  1. I think that Fort St will end up being more successful that Darby St due to the fact it already has the eateries there (they are on the northern side not the southern) that I’m sure will pretty quickly move out into the space once it is completed. Also some of the nearby buildings are already improving because of the works, places like Revive, Velvet Burger and Fort St Union Bar (very cool) are all helping to improve the area.

    Also I disagree that shared spaces require the road to be completely rebuilt, I remember reading somewhere that they were only doing the large underground works as they had the opportunity to future proof it and not all streets will have the same level of services running under them.

  2. Sorry to bang on, but your concerns about traffic volume on this part of Fort St admin will evaporate when Queen itself is traffic free then this ‘beach’ will become fully successful… as will Darby, only being used by delivery and emergency vehicles.

    Also I don’t think Queen could be done in stages as if their is any North/South traffic in it it will have to go somewhere, really except for Nelson St the traffic flows into the city from the motorways on Eastern and Western directions and to prevent entry into Queen [except the small amount coming down the hill at Mayoral] all that is needed is to restrict turning at those four cross streets: Customs, Vic, Wellesley, and Mayoral. It couldn’t be easier really and certainly could be extensively trialled with little more than some cones and light phase changes, and a big marketing campaign.

    I am hoping that this is what is being planned…?

  3. Fort St has a mix of old and new buildings which will help add to the ambiance. Fort St also had quite a few massage parlours and porn shops which I hope have moved elsewhere. Good luck to Auckland with these projects. The city should be a lot better than what it is now.

  4. For all those saying “The city should be a lot better than what it is now”, I suggest you take a time warp back to 2005, and you will see that the city IS already a lot better.

    No reason why that process shouldn’t continue, though!

    In a more positive vein, and disregarding Steven Joyce, the mad motorway hatter, have there been any streets WIDENED within 10km of the CBD in the last years? There must be some, but the fact that I can’t think of any makes me hopeful.

    1. Auckland City Council certainly didn’t seem to do much road widening in the last few years of their existence. But then again they didn’t seem to do much of anything when it came to transport.

      Manukau was still building defacto motorways out in Flat Bush as fast as it could though. I wonder if those projects will get scaled back due to less NZTA funding being available for local projects than previously expected?

  5. The above photo highlights one of the weaknesses with share spaces – in that they require a complete rebuild of the road, both above ground and below

    Why is this? To myself, a layman, it seems like since there would be less heavy traffic on the road, simply putting paving over the top would be sufficient.

    1. Fair point George. I would say that it seems as though they require a complete rebuild, judging from the way these ones have been done. Elliott Street seems to be less of the complete rebuild below ground, so has progressed quicker from my occasional observations.

  6. I would say that it seems as though they require a complete rebuild, judging from the way these ones have been done.

    That appears to be the case to me too, insomuch as these are new surfaces being put over infrastructure that is at least decades old in most cases. Once the road is in place, it would be a pity to pull it all up again. However, much of this is vital work that would have had to have been done at some stage anyway – I wonder if it would be more appropriate to seperate out those costs and itemise them seperately, so that the cost of shared spaces is accurately understood.

    1. I am not a roading expert, though from what I remember from my student days, I would be very dubious about putting pavers (note the difference) above existing paving. It seems like a recipe for buckling and warping, as the below-ground surface would be a mix and hodge-podge of various elements and strengths (just think of the fact that you would need different “filler” levels for where the footpaths used to be, and the main paving that used to be lower than the footpaths etc…

      You’d essentially risking the high-profile shared spaces becoming a laughing stock for the ‘Herald’ 1-2 years later.

      Also, I understand that Council has invested a lot of time into considering the maintenance requirements, specifically so that the shared space areas can be worked on in the future without excessive reinstatement costs.

  7. Yeah, I think is going to be a cool shared space with room for pedestrians and cyclists (unlike some of the other shared spaces where I have concern about how cyclists will fit).

    I also think Fort Street is on it’s way up – kicking off the slightly seedy image of the past.

  8. The reason, as I understand it, that Fort Street is taking so long is that they have decided to do work on the underground utilities at the same time. The shared space itself is just paving and palm trees.

    The only criticism I have of this shared space is that it seems to only comprise a small section of Fort Street. Why not extend it all the way to the end?

    1. The plan is to do just that, but that is quite a lengthy project and I think they don’t want it ‘half-finished’ while the RWC is on. So they’re doing the first bit from start to finish and then later on doing the rest. Which is probably fair enough.

  9. I’ve been for a walk in the CBD today – seen how Fort St is developping, seen how Darby St is today and I have seen and experienced what Lorne St is like today. Oh, how I wish Lorne St would be transformed into something that Darby St is today and Fort St is going to be… There’s so much potential throughout the CBD – I have to applaud the people behind these changes – AKL is changing for the better if only by a few small steps at the time…

  10. The great thing is that these spaces can be converted relatively quickly into fully pedestrianised zones – just need a few bollards and hey presto!

    1. Indeed, I think that’s the beauty of them, they have the potential to be later closed off the traffic, I think that will happen to Darby Street within a couple of years – unfortunately some streets such as Fort Street will always have to allow cars as there are large carparking buildings such as the Deloitte building on the street.

      1. Fort needs to have cars, but when there are none on QueenSt the volume passing through Fort will drop dramatically as there won’t be a whole lot of needless driving through there. Just real local [eg Deloittes] and delivery and frankly it’s time we got serious about having restricted, or if you prefer, privileged, delivery times, like before 9am. I’m sure the commercial drivers will really benefit from the big reduction in road and kerbside competition, will be able to get through the CBD so much quicker without all the single occupant cars everywhere.

        1. All of the shared spaces will come into their own once Queens Street is pedestrianised, as the traffic will reduce markedly on these side streets. Darby for instance will in effect become pedestrianised as there will be no where for the cars to go to or come from.

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