Following on from my post the other day about The Spinoff’s interview with the City Rail Link team and some of their concerning comments, I thought I’d take a look at a few issues from a slightly different angle. In particular I thought I’d look at the issue of the Mercury Lane entrance and the access from there to Karangahape Rd, where most people will be going.
As a reminder, this is the comment the CRL project made in relation to it
As for Mercury Lane, passengers will have quite a steep walk up the street to K Road. I asked why there won’t be escalators rising to Karangahape Rd itself.
“That’s not a difficult walk,” he said. “It’s good for you.”
But just how steep is the walk up to K Rd? Helpfully the Council’s GIS viewer includes a contour map and I’ve included the location of the station entrance with the red circle.
The contours show that the station entrance is at about 56m above sea level while Karangahape Rd on the intersection with Mercury Lane is at about 65m. As you can also see the distance is about 93m. So, we have a grade of about 1:10. In the previous post, I mentioned looking at Auckland Transport’s Code of Practice for rail and how talks about how access to stations needs to be designed to meet the needs of requirements. It also talks about stations need to comply with the NZS 4121:2001 Design for Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities. So what do the building the standards say?
As I said the other day, I think the CRL team need to treat access from the station to K Rd as part of the station. That’s because K Rd will remain the most common destination for users. The standards document seems to back this up in Section 4 where it notes that people with disabilities shall be able to approach the accessible main entrance to building or facilities by footpath on an accessible route.
Further, in Section 6, which talks about Footpaths, Ramps and Landings, it notes that grades steeper than 1 in 33 but not exceeding 1 in 20 need a 1200mm level rest areas every 18m. Where the gradient is more than 1:20, it needs to be treated as a ramp. Ramps should ideally have a gradient of less than 1 in 14 but the absolute maximum is 1 in 12 with a maximum between flat landing sections of 9m. Given Mercury Lane has a gradient of 1 in 10, this doesn’t qualify as an accessible route.
By comparison, as you can see from the map above, the route from Beresford Square is almost flat with only about a 1m rise over the 60m from there to the K Rd intersection. That would be ideal and given they’re building most of what’s needed for the Beresford Square entrance anyway, it’s absurd they’re not doing it at the same time,
I also wonder if enough space is being made available on Mercury Lane for all the people exiting the station. The render doesn’t seem to show a massive improvement over what exists now, other than some nicer paving. I wonder how much this is related to the same modelling that they claim justifies not building the Beresford Square entrance. Their model says that by 2041, in the busiest peak only around 6,600 people will exit the station, with about 1,300 getting on. That’s probably about what Britomart does today in a normal peak hour (does around 10k over the two-hour peak).
While on the subject of the CRL again, I also thought I’d raise another issue from The Spinoff’s interview, that of station design and art.
I suggested the “concept drawings” have a very samey feel. They’re not conceived as unique places like Britomart was, but look like they come from the same design kitset. Meale said the stations will be “cousins rather than twins”.
He also said the contractor will be responsible for designing the “front of house”.
So the concepts can change? “Yes, but there are guidelines.”
Is there a budget for art?.
He said, “Are you offering?”
I asked if that meant there was no budget for art. He said the council has a “project envelope” for art associated with the CRL. Not a lot, then. “But,” he said, “it’s not so much about putting a sculpture here or there. We’re building art into the architecture.”
I don’t claim to be an expert but I know others are and there’s clearly a concern that what’s being planned is basically engineered boxes with some patterns thrown on the wall, instead of truly making the architecture a work of art in itself. Of note, there’s recently been a lot coming up online about Melbourne Metro Tunnel which is under construction and includes five new stations. Firstly, it’s worth taking a look at this neat interactive map of the project. CRL need to do something similar. What I wanted to particularly highlight though, was the designs for the CBD North and CBD south stations.
By comparison, here’s the concepts for the planned Aotea and K Rd station platforms
Let’s hope the bidders come up with some more impressive designs.