Auckland Transport announced yesterday (interestingly only on social media) that there have been no appeals against their consent to start works for the City Rail Link in Albert St. That has cleared the way for work to start in November on moving stormwater pipes – the first physical works needed to deliver the project. As the Herald reported yesterday the actual process of digging the tunnels will start in May next year and will also involve closing the Chief Post Office building down for a few years while the foundations are moved to accommodate the future rail lines.

Changes to Britomart

The works will necessitate a new entrance being created at the rear of the CPO. Here is a concept image of what it will look like

3D view of temporary Briotmart station CRL2

The works will also see a number of streets affected by the construction works – especially Albert St. AT say this will affect more than 5,000 bus trips per day and as such a number of bus routes will have to be changed. Importantly they say they’re prioritising PT in the city during this time saying it is “to provide an effective and efficient way to move the most people in, out and around the city.” It’s good to see AT making this clear.

To prioritise these routes it means AT will be adding in a number of new bus lanes in the city centre as well as temporarily removing on-street car parking from some locations. An overview of the on street changes expected are shown in the image below.

On Street changes for CRL works

There are more detailed maps about just where the changes will occur here.

In total around 77 carparks are affected and given the amount of off street parking generally available I doubt this should have too much impact. Of course people will likely quickly adapt to it being gone so in a few years perhaps those parking changes could become permanent. There are also changes to six loading zones.

These works will undoubtedly be disruptive for the city centre however the end result will be transformative for all of Auckland. It enables a huge increase in frequency and capacity of the entire rail network making it more viable to a wider range of people. It also frees up space on city streets so that more buses from areas not served by rail – and in future light rail – can be run, again benefiting not just those going to the city centre. It is also the catalyst for massive growth and it’s no surprise that so many major projects have been announced along the CRL route.

CRL Growth Corridor

And provides a large redevelopment opportunity at Eden Terrace

Mt Eden TOD

In addition to all of this it also opens the way for a whole host of projects to further improve the city centre. Projects such as improved footpaths on Albert St, the Victoria St linear park, the new public space outside the CPO.

Of course the biggest question that remains is when the government will come to the party and fund their share of the project.

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39 comments

  1. They spent years building Britomart, what a stuff-up not to have the CPO building fixed then for the eventual CRL? This does no bode well for the quality of planning for the CRL project, can they not think ahead?

    1. I can’t imagine the cost of changing the piling is cheap and has it been required to be done when Britomart was being built then it may have sunk the project which was controversial at the time. At the time not many foresaw just how poplar it would be and that upgrades would be needed a mere 15 years later

    2. You can blame all the nasayers and complainers, from visionless Councillors and central politicians to hopeless commentators, and backward looking officials at MoT, for the lack of future-proofing. These people ceaselessly attack not only the very idea of these projects but also every line of cost, so sensible near term investment for the future is always lost. cf gold plated motorway projects.

    3. It wouldnt have made any sense to do it then. Spending money 25 years in advance of need is not usually a good option. I dont think it would have been that much easier to have done the work back then either – it just would have meant they dont have to close the CPO now for a few years. The work under the CPO is distinct (but contiguous with) Britomart itself.

    4. The astonishing thing is not that Britomart was built without this bit of future-proofing, but that it was built at all. At the time Auckland’s rail service was pathetic, and it took real vision to foresee what could be. Remembering that Britomart as built is a greatly reduced version of the original project (out went the underground bus station and oodles of underground parking), anyone suggesting spending lots of money on CRL provision would have been laughed out of court, and it would probably have endangered the whole project.

      But blaming “all the nasayers and complainers, from visionless Councillors and central politicians to hopeless commentators, and backward looking officials at MoT” is much too harsh and much too personal – projects of such vision always have critics, and it was a major turn round for Auckland. Politicians and officials were just doing the jobs they are paid to do, to see the downsides as well as the upsides.

      1. ‘too harsh and much too personal’ If you insist: but nonetheless completely accurate. And worth repeating because the very same people are at it again today. Working hard to keep the whole city as blah as possible.

        Of course there will be a range of views, and cost control and the sincere search for cost-effectiveness and creative solutions is very important. But ideologically driven sabotage, white-anting, and the refusal to accept evidence, or admit you were wrong is endemic around Public Transport investment in Auckland.

        1. My point exactly, the same type of people making the same non-forward looking planning decisions. Does the Waterview Connection have room for double tracks, bikes…? Building a clip-on bike lane on harbour bridge, instead of building a flat train track and bike lane adjacent…!

    5. Unfortunately making it too small was the only way to get Britomart built at all. Remember Roughan et al were attacking it for being too big and grandiose as it was – “the Queen St Temple” and so on (funny how nobody calls it that now).

    6. I thought not having any sort of route protection on QEII Square early on to be the bigger embarrassment. Zurich House just plonked itself right where a tunnel was to go.

      1. Zurich house has existed for decades but not always in it’s current form. This is what it used to look like till its mid-late 00s renovation where they stripped it back to it’s core.

        1. Interesting. I could’ve sworn I’d read something about the tunnels having to be realigned in order to bypass it. Google is also proving me wrong at the moment, though.

  2. After reading this I’ve never been so happy to work in Newmarket.

    Whilst a fan of the CRL project (not the financing) this is serious disruption and I don’t see many options to mitigate the effect.

    1. They design reminds me of the Shed(s) at Queens Wharf.
      Hoping that its made of glass. Modern and Historical looking.

    2. A darn sight more attractive than the shipping containers and boards that accompanied the Westpac building’s construction.

      Are those elevators either side of the entrance?

        1. Existing stairs off platform remain as they are but instead of carrying on up into the CPO people will instead turn around and head up a new set of stairs out to the glass box

  3. The first spade in the ground (so to speak) will be a great day. A greater day is when I live to see my children using the CRL. Britomart was such a battle just to get to the start line. All those naysayers back then should be forced to have a look at how clogged the place currently is during the peak periods. This is even with those ancient diesel trains still lumbering in and out of the place next to the Electric trains. They have certainly been made to eat humble pie.

    In 20 years time, the process should be repeated for the current naysayers but for Aotea station and various other major stations around the network.

  4. Not gonna celebrate until the government actually open their eyes and wallet and actually support the CRL.
    I dare these politicians to actually take public transport in Auckland to actually see how bad it is. Everyone (Locals and Tourist alike) thinks Auckland public transport is a joke. The government needs to up its game cause 2million Aucklanders won’t all fit in those motorways they love so much.

    1. Hopefully we’ll have a change of government by then who will support it. Got to get a few more who will benefit to vote next time around.

  5. “New bus lanes will be installed on these streets:
    Fanshawe Street – between Daldy Street and Halsey Street.”

    There are already bus lanes on both sides there. Are we going to see two lanes reserved for buses heading into town, leaving “only” 3 for general traffic?

    The lanes on fanshawe st are pretty empty usually so I would think 3 lanes for cars would still be ample. Heading out of town in the evening peak is a different story though.

  6. I think there is a huge opportunity to 24/7 buslanes on Queen St now too. Get that City Link working properly as a proof of concept for LRT. There is simply no need for four lanes of general traffic there anyway, but also with the disruptions they do need to maximise intra city movement too.

    Why not CCI?

    1. Agreed, movement of people should be prioritised as you say by having continuous bus lanes for the City Link, it can be faster walking a lot of the time. Would also hopefully discourage even more of the rat-runners (and they are, there’s no destination for a car) to take a different route, and have the added advantage of providing for a more pleasant cycling environment in the absence of any cycle lanes.

      1. There are plenty of destinations for a car which involve Queen Street. The issue for most traffic is that it would like to avoid Queen Street but because of location they need to use Queen Street, this is made worse by roads surrounding Queen St being one way, no right turns and traffic signalling.
        The City link and Air Bus would be much better services if the traffic lights gave more priority to Queen St traffic.

        1. There’s not a single carpark entrance, hotel lobby or loading bay on Queen St. The only reason for any cars to be there is because that’s what they’re used to.

        2. I actually challenged someone to this the other day. They honestly couldn’t find a single driving journey except for arbritrarily short intra-CBD journeys or roads that exit only to Queen St. The first set are easier to walk and the second set are fixable.

    2. I think there’s a huge opportunity to use the CRL disruption as the impetus for making the surrounding streets more PT, cycle and pedestrian oriented. Treat it as a cheap trial Janette Sadik-Khan styles.

      If the city residents starve to death due to the lack of deliveries predicted by the roading lobby, then the streets can go back to how they were pre-CRL, but if the people find they like a less car focused centre, then we can keep the re-prioritisation.

  7. +1
    totally agree this must be used as the catalyst for more pedestrian/PT/cycle friendly centre!!
    Also really like the look of that new station addition in the picture, how temporary will this structure be? Will it remain after the main station reopens? Considering Britomart probably won’t be the busiest on the network post CRL what use of space is proposed once the full station is operational anyone know?

    1. Could the reduced numbers mean there is scope to fit some more retail in and make the station more useful for the remaining passengers whilst getting the station to pay for itself?

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