The post I put together the other day about Auckland’s transport history generated a lot of response and discussion – so I thought I would follow things up by doing a bit more research. A most useful outcome of that is to get hold of the 1955 Master Transportation Plan for Auckland. This is the plan that really led Auckland down a very roads-focused last 60 years in transport policies. You can read a big chunk of the plan (though not its background, I’ll work on scanning that) by clicking here (9MB PDF).

Here’s the summary of that plan’s findings and recommendations:

 Here’s the roading system that the scheme set out to create: Here’s a map of the proposed motorway connections around the city centre. It’s interesting to see a few things – like a proposed elevated motorway above Quay Street, the fact that Union Street was still going to be part of the main north-south route through the city, a Dominion Road motorway and what one might call a rather optimistically small amount of land the whole motorway junction was expected to take up. It’s also interesting to see how the plan was so keen to proudly show off how the elevated motorway along Quay Street might look. If there’s any part of this transport plan that I’m exceedingly glad didn’t happen, it is the Quay Street viaduct: One potentially surprisingly aspect of the plan is that even though it was enormously roads-focused (and in a future post I will look in more detail at the justification the plan used for its recommendations), the plan still proposed an extension of the rail network right into the heart of downtown Auckland – a kind of mini-version of the City Rail Link that appeared in many other transport plans (both earlier and later than this one). Here’s some further detail on the proposed alignment of this rail spur:

 It’s a little bit difficult to make out, but effectively the line would have extended in a spur from the old Auckland Railway Station, underneath Albert Park and then with an underground tunnel beneath a bit of Albert Park with the main entrance being basically underneath where the Victoria Street carpark is now located. One wonders whether the construction of that train station was the original reason why the Council owns the site of the carpark actually. Of course the rail part of the plan never happened, and while the motorway scheme was cut back in some areas, it was expanded in other areas through later plans put together in the 1960s.

Overall though, this plan was critical because it shifted Auckland away from a balanced transport model (and remember PT use at the time was incredibly high) and towards the almost exclusive roads-focus that we ended up with. The disdain of how the plan dismissed rail’s ability to make a big contribution to Auckland’s transport issues carries through in much of the opposition that still exists today.

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12 comments

  1. “It’s also interesting to see how the plan was so keen to proudly show off how the elevated motorway along Quay Street might look.”

    It has Circular Quay written all over it. The Cahill Expressway was opened in 1958, which means it was probably under construction when the Auckland plan was released. Goodness knows what caused planners in two cities to decide what they really needed between their CBD and their harbour was an enormous ugly multi-story motorway.

    1. It’s even more similar to the Alaskan Way viaduct in Seattle. I struggle to be too surprised by anything thought up by 1950s traffic planners.

        1. They even seemed to think a highway through the pyramids in Cairo was a good idea LOL, you can’t fault them for optimism though.

  2. Oh well at least the MTP doesn’t have that daft Newmarket rail dogleg round Vector arena, I see. Why didn’t the trains just go underneath it, given that they are diving into a tunnel anyway?

    1. Yeah my thoughts too. It would have been useful to keep the old station – just not as the station in the heart of town.

      Kind of how in Sydney you have Central on the outskirts of the CBD, then other stations like Town Hall & Wynyard in the real heart of the city.

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