Auckland Transport have released a new image of the future Mercury Lane entrance for the Karangahape Rd Station being built as part of the City Rail Link. AT say it is designed so that a development could occur directly above the entrance in the future.

Karangahape Station Entrance Mercury Lane

Sadly AT still say that at this stage only one of the two entrances for the K Rd station will be built and all suggestions are that it will only be the Mercury Lane one. This is said to be because there is more development potential around the Mercury Rd entrance compared to around Beresford Square.

I think having only one entrance is a huge mistake as I suspect it will be very unlikely AT or the council will go back and dig up the area any time soon. To me not including the Beresford entrance will eventually be of similar stupidity to the scaling back of the Harbour Bridge in the 50’s.

Here’s the previous image AT had given for the entrance.

K Rd station Mercury Lane Entrance

And a cut away of the station

K Rd - Mercury Lane Entrance Cut Away

As a comparison, here’s what the area currently looks like from this location. There’s something kind of ironic that the Green Party’s Auckland headquarters gets demolished as part of the CRL

Karangahape Station Entrance Mercury Lane currently


AT have now added another new image of the station entrance

Karangahape Station Entrance Mercury Lane 2

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  1. I think it’s a huge mistake to only build one entry. As the render shows, due to the location of the platform, all passengers will have to travers the length of the platform to reach the exit, which will be at the far end.
    Also, the opportunity for the redevelopment of Beresford Square as an actual active square is wasted, which is a real shame. Why do we keep “value engineering” this thing… First Newton Station, now K’Road entrance… Why not stick to our original proposal and let Central Government pick up the tab. We know they will…

    1. I disagree that AT should build everything imaginable without paying attention to cost. Every part of the project should only be built if the benefits outweigh the costs. In this case I am assuming that AT either found that the cost of this entrance would be stupidly high, or the amount of use of this entrance would be rather low. The money that is saved by not building this entrance can be put towards a PT project with much better payback.
      The problem with these large projects is that its all too easy to spend an extra 100 million here or there like its pocket change.

  2. So intending K Rd passengers will have to use a rather steep incline to access the station rather than through an entrance on the ridge? That suggests whoever is making these determinations is neither a walker nor a wheelchair user. A really stupid proposal and I’d be interested to know if these cunning, money-saving plans have been passed through the disabilities advocate you’d expect to be part of this planning process.

    1. There’s ways of overcoming that – such as having multiple passages through a single building from different parts of of the platform that have fire-rated protective walls in-between each passage. And there WOULD likely be secondary entrances – but more of the type that spills you out into a grungy back lane somewhere. That’s a big difference to an actual entrance rated to be useful and welcoming to thousands of people an hour.

      While AT may be strategic fools in proposing to limit themselves to one single entry, I trust them enough to have asked a fire engineer about this!

      1. You do not get more grungy than Mercury Lane.

        If an entrance needs to go because of cost saving it should be Mercury Lane and retain the Beresford Square entrance. One consideration AT may have is the number of historic buildings in the area which Mercury Lane does not have.

        As others have commented Mercury Lane is not disabled or walker friendly due tot he steepness of the lane. The pavement is not wide though this could be sorted by removing the parking, but emerging out onto a very busy road is not ideal.

        1. “You do not get more grungy than Mercury Lane.”

          That’s not an argument against it – in fact, it means that a lot of stuff around there can safely be bowled for much better urban development. And the other grungyness is quickly changed with some street upgrades and more people / tenants.

          As for the pavement width? Chuck the car parks, make the one-way lane 4m wide, and you have 10m (!) for footpaths. Wonderful boulevard width. Heck, even without any car park removal, you could easily add 1-2m to the western footpath – it’s way too wide for a single-lane one-way road.

          No, there’s nothing at all wrong about Mercury Lane. It’s just that two of a good thing are needed, not just one.

          [PS: The Beresford heritage buildings wouldn’t be removed – it might be somewhat complex to underpin them during the construction, but it’s hardly rocket science. We’ll be building two whole tunnels THROUGH the basement of a heritage building (Britomart), it’s hardly a problem of building something NEXT to another heritage building ;-]

        2. I am with bikersteve. If you only have one entrance then Beresford St offers a much better option for integrating development. Mercury lane will always be steep and always be cold and dark. It will drag down the CRL station rather than the CRL station lifting the quality of Mercury Lane. Beresford Street is open, sunny and flatish.

          1. I would have guessed that Beresford would have much better catchment too as it’s that much further away from the motorway deadzone.

  3. Matt, I’m with you on the likelihood of the Beresford Square entrance being built in the future being close enough to zero, that if it doesn’t get built in the initial build, it’s pretty unlikely to ever be built.

    With Aotea and Karangahape stations, it’s a chance for the rail network to truly shine, rather than the view of some of the network, which looks hidden and neglected, like it’s an afterthought.

  4. The Mercury Lane (there’s a clue) has severe mobility, access, and catchment issues.

    This is monumental stupidity from AT. Whoever agreed to this is being bullied by someone with control of the budget, but in doing so they are being stupid. This massively detracts from the value of the CRL.

    And as for us: I think we need to get the disability community more involved. This is a disaster for certain users. It’s an impediment for the able-bodied and a real disincentive to many cyclists.

    1. Thanks George. It’s another classic example of them ignoring disabled Aucklanders until way too late in the process. Disability expertise is still not threaded all the way through Council/AT processes. Routinely a missed voice at the right tables. That has been a huge lost opportunity to get ahead of the ageing population when this stuff will become politically harder to ignore.

  5. Oh, and the render is false. Mercury Lane is *much* steeper than that.

    Edit: I’ve come up with a solution, and I’m completely serious about it.

    Covered escalators and mobility lifts, from the entrance to K. That’s the only way in which you can salvage this as the sole entrance of the station. I can see it being somewhat successful in that case.

    1. That’s what I’m thinking – escalators and lifts from K’Rd to connect into the Mercury Lane-centered station. Similar to how Britomart is done. AT CRL Team – can do?

  6. A mistake, I agree, but I can see their logic. Given the choice between months of construction disruption and chaos in an area that is already active, and one that is a scungy wasteland, it seems sensible to begin transformation of the wasteland first, leaving the active space to remain active and useful, rather than to relegate both areas to uselessness for the duration of the operation.

  7. Why wouldn’t the Beresford entrance be built first? What is the scale of cost difference, presuming Beresford is somewhat deeper?

    Mercury Lane entrance could be built as part of the development of the area south of K Rd, when that inevitably happens.

    1. Great idea – require it as a condition of consent for any purchaser / developer. Will of course reduce the money Council will get for the land, but that is hardly an issue when it means we get a station entrance now – at Beresford – and have much greater likelihood of getting a second one at Mercury Lane later.

    1. Actually the cars do get that blurry, but I’m not sure if that’s due to the speed the drive down Mercury Lane or due to the level of beer I’d drunk up at Ironbar… 😉

  8. Beresford Square needs to be build from day one – if you look at a map such an entrance would significantly increase the walking catchment of the station.

    Perhaps a question needs to be raised as to whether AT are meeting statutory responsibilities by building a station that is difficult to access for the disabled. Perhaps it is also significant that Auckland Council (Graham Bodman) recently ‘restructured’ their specialist disability advisers out of a job. Empowering Communities Approach- yeah right!

    1. Those advisors were often not brought into projects like this until too late, or AT was responsible instead of Council. Not enough staff with the right knowledge in the right parts of either org (at least it looks like Coun cil are finally hiring one urban design/planning specialist). No chain of input from strategic planning level right through to monitoring post-built work and maintenance. Ongoing incompetent management of getting better disability knowledge through council.

  9. I know from earlier design iterations, there was a proposal for the Mercury site having a direct link to K Road (via the old cinema (?) frontage somewhere near 256 K Road. Is that still doable? That could resolve the mobility access issue.

    How steep IS the difference between there anyway? Google says only 1m vertical difference over 90m distance between K Road and Mercury Lane entrance, but that’s bound to be off by quite a bit.

  10. How much money are we talking here in not building the second entrance? If it’s an obscene cost, then maybe I can understand them putting it off till patronage warrants it. But if we’re only talking a ‘few’ million, then surely just do it right first time?!

        1. Actually, if they build the shaft, that is a quite a positive thing, I think. Means that it can be done realtively quickly, without the massive disruption above and besides the construction side that is involved with a “big dig”. This is a better background thinking than I was expecting.

          With an empty shaft being ready to get the future entrance, the likelihood that it will be built with only a few years lag is strongly increased.

      1. If they are going to excavate a shaft under Pitt Street, then it seems almost certain that they will excavate earth/soil, from the intended platform areas of the K Road station, using that shaft. The Beresford Square end of the station, IMO has better access for the trucks removing the earth/soil than the Mercury Lane end.
        And if they have a shaft not fitted out, surely they will have at least a stair well in it for fire escape only.

      2. > Just found out the difference is $30 million. The shaft itself will be built under Pitt St but obviously not be fit out

        Presumably that means the station can be added later relatively easily?

  11. In the new image, the building outside the entrance are carpark entrance and factory.

    Those building should have its first floor converted into retail and hospitality.

    Also yes I agree once they spent $$$ building the station, they should just spend a little bit extra to make it more usable for a wider area surrounding it.

  12. I think, if you’re going to invest ~$2.5 billion and many years of massive construction in the inner city, for such a crucial project as the CRL, you don’t muck about for a savings of a “measly” $30 million. Do it once, do it right. This is not how you achieve a vision of world class public transport. This is how you continue repeating the same old mistakes over and over again.

  13. Secret stations are never a good idea. This is a false economy by AT. Value engineering is s fancy name for cost accountants, and a disingenuous one at that, this decision undervalues the visible, accessible, and bus integrated Beresford Sq Station. It only counts cost.

    Even a rudimentary entrance at Beresford would be better, as I assume the heavy engineering will have to happen anyway.

  14. If the shaft is built but unused, how is the space above going to be finished?
    $30M sounds like a lot for a couple of escaltors? An industrial or raw concrete finish would be fine. It doesn‘t need to be a marble clad palace

  15. Having spent plenty of time in and around Mercury Lane (great food court) it has charm but nothing short of demolishing some buildings will make it ‘nice’. Ironbank access it the only real plus and the car park could go… but I’m generally in favour of brothel patrons, swingers and graffiti artists having good transit access to their places of interest.

    BUT, all those great time savings on the CRL are going to be eroded by all the unnecessary walking from the train door to the street – I’m sure many have experienced the underground labyrinths of London or Prague, which by the time you reach the platform you may as well have just caught the bus/tram/walked. This maybe does not matter as much for long trips, but it’s something to factor in. Krd being so deep is always going to be a long walk out, I guess…

  16. Support for the CRL would increase astronomically if it was made public that the Green Party headquarters was going to be removed.

    This should be included in AT’s advertising to get people onside!

      1. From what I hear, Mediaworks are also very happy about TV3’s main studio in Flower St getting bowled. It’s a dog of a building, and the compensation they’ll get will allow them to build a much better facility elsewhere.

        1. No Mediaworks were pissed off because when AT lodged the NOR they just missed the building. They were one of the opponents claiming noise and vibration would be an issue

          1. That’s a pity. Seems like for AT, it’d be a bargain to get any property anywhere near a CRL station for merely market value – it’s going to be worth way more once the CRL’s built!

  17. The Mercury entrance to the station is going to be invisible from K Road compared to Beresford which would be easily visible. A major disadvantage in my book.
    They should build both from the start. A $30m saving is not worth it.

  18. The choice should be either two entrances, or a truly viable single entrance. To me this means pedestrianising the Lane, and ideally installing outdoor escalators up to K Rd. If ratepayers want to save a bob then they should be thrilled to only be losing one rat run in exchange.

  19. It seems highly unlikely that this station would have only one exit. Has anyone got a copy of the plans? I worked on the Jubilee Line stations in London, and while there may appear to be just one exit that the public uses, the underground stations in the new Underground work would have 2 completely separate fire exit stairs exiting direct to ground level, as well as the more common public stair. The other exits were often hidden in other structures – they’re only intended to be used in emergencies.

    Its not just common sense, its also the law, i.e. the NZ Building Code stipulates 2 means of exit as a norm, and a project like this would have to go through NZ Fire Service sign-off, and those guys are normally pretty blunt and wouldn’t accept a compromise. This will only happen at Building Consent stage though.

  20. Really interesting thread. Just to sum up, I am hearing four good reasons to build Beresford as soon as possible:
    – Visibility
    – Bus connections
    – Access, especially for disabled users
    – Safety

    Any others?

    1. Is security included in safety / visibility? Yes, I know we are hoping that the station entrance will turn Mercury Lane into Vulcan Lane, but in the meantime, it’s a dark isolated area where people frequently hang around at night and I’d imagine that might put a *lot* of people off using it outside busy daylight hours.

      It’s already been said, but it really is sheer lunacy to pass up building the Beresford entrance at the same time as Mercury Lane, given it’s an already attractive site with good access that will pour users into and out of the system. The idea of building the station shaft first and nothing else reveals this as mainly penny-pinching, budget-fiddling for the sake of it stupidity. For pity’s sake, given the overall spend can we not just do this thing properly at the start, for once?

      1. I think you are overstating the safety issue (mind, I am NOT in favour of only one entrance…)

        Even if this will get only moderately busy initially, I would expect it to be one of the Top 10 train stations of the city, with lots of traffic at all times of the day, especially considring that K Road will keep it busy even during after hours. So the “dark and isolated” will absolutely not apply once the station opens in Mercury Lane. It will be *busy*.

      2. My view is pretty much the exact reverse, the station will be so convenient that people will use it in droves regardless of seediness, which will drive away anyone who frequents the area because it’s currently a dark deserted possie with easy car access. We’re not talking the Tenderloin here with underclass residents, the night-time denizens have other places to conduct their activities. I wouldn’t be surprised if a business like Starbucks popped up next door before the station itself even opened.

    2. I think that some of these can be addressed by pedestrianizing Mercury and putting outdoor escalators in. It has next to no street frontage (so no retailers to bother) and is almost exclusively used as a rat run to Upper Queen anyway. This could be done relatively cheaply and easily. It’s salvageable.

      This doesn’t mean that second entrance should not be built to make this a truly useful station – it’s the cost of a very small section of motorway.

  21. Both need to be built from the get go because we all know that if Beresford isn’t built first most likely never will be.
    Agree that it’s definitely doable as just a one entrance station but everyone can see Mercury is not the ideal choice for lots of reasons.
    Is there any need to have more than a couple of stairwell type entrances at street level, because the rest like concourse and toilets etc can/are all to be built on the levels that are between the street and the platform?
    I thought they would go with lift access for disabled/push chair (bicycles?) from Beresford and Krd with 4 stairwell entrances around the intersection ,off the top of my head I’m thinking about TownHall station Sydney…

  22. That entrance is down the bottom of steep Mercury Lane. Boy we know how to stuff things up in New Zealand. They just keep trying to make it cheaper. Don’t bother if you’re not going to do it right. Move to a proper city, like Sydney.

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