We’ve written before about the construction disruption coming to central Auckland next year. In particular there are two big half billion dollar full block rebuilds in the Convention Centre and the Downtown development and associated tower, plus the City Rail Link early works, then there are numerous other office and residential towers due to start. Only projects very close to the CRL route are shown below, there’s a lot more to the west both at Wynyard and around Sale St and elsewhere:
AT have some details on their CRL page about the details of their work, including a video of the Albert St process, no doubt they will communicate more closer to the time. Work on the pipe-jacking access shafts start early next month on Albert St. But as there is so much other construction starting next year I wonder if AT wouldn’t be wiser to really take an bold line on this as it all winds up? For the people who are used to driving through the city it’s more than likely these habits will be impacted. I feel the best way for AT to manage this frustration is to front-foot it, to ‘own’ this disruption, explain that people should not expect to get by without making changes. Say this is going to be big and difficult, but worth it in the long run. Just hoping to minimise disruption and try not to draw attention to it and that it’s all going to be ok seems to me to invite more of a backlash. In particular to invite accusations of carelessness and incompetence.
I think AT should consider a little Catastrophising; should call down a full ‘CARMAGEDDON’ for the central city next year. This has four potential benefits:
1. They can’t then be accused of downplaying or not taking the disruption to peoples’ commutes and daily business seriously.
2. It is likely to get a number of people to change their plans especially it may get more people to trying other methods for getting into the city, thereby actually helping to reduce the impacts of all this construction activity.
3. For these and other reasons it is likely that it won’t actually be as bad as they paint it, so people will feel more relief than anger.
4. It is a good way to get communication into the media, and with it the opportunity to discuss the value of the projects too.
Here’s an example of what I mean. The I-405 in LA:
A section of I-405 was closed over the weekend of Friday, July 15, 2011 as part of the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. Before the closing, local radio DJs and television newscasts referred to it as “Carmageddon” and “Carpocalypse”, parodying the notion of Armageddon and the Apocalypse, since it was anticipated that the closure would severely impact traffic.
In reality, traffic was lighter than normal across a wide area. California Department of Transportation reported that fewer vehicles used the roads than usual, and those who did travel by road arrived more quickly than on a normal weekend. The Metrolink commuter train system recorded its highest-ever weekend ridership since it began operating in 1991. Ridership was 50% higher than the same weekend in 2010, and 10% higher than the previous weekend ridership record, which occurred during the U2 360° Tour in June 2011. In response to jetBlue Airlines‘ offer of special flights between Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and Long Beach Airport, a distance of only 29 mi (47 km), for $4, a group of cyclists did the same journey in one and a half hours, compared to two and a half hours by plane (including a drive to the airport from West Hollywood 90 minutes in advance of the flight and travel time to the end destination). There was also some debate about whether the Los Angeles area could benefit from car-free weekends on a regular basis.
Granted this was only for one weekend, but still the principle is the same; own the cause of the likely negativity boldly.
What do you think is the best way for Auckland deal with these growing pains?