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.