There are three key areas that many cities all around the world are investing significantly in to deliver outcomes for people, the economy and the environment. These are:
- Improving public transport
- Improving active mode and micro-mobility infrastructure
- Improving the public realm, often by reclaiming space from vehicles
The downtown area of Auckland is currently in the midst of a significant transformations that will deliver on all three of these, changing the area to much more people friendly and attractive place. Within the next few years we’ll see
- The City Rail Link works (in this part of the city) completed
- A new public space on Lower Queen St between Customs St and Quay St
- Commercial Bay opened, including new laneways through it. Importantly an east-west lane will connect Britomart to the Lower Albert St bus interchange
- The Lower Albert St bus interchange will be upgraded
- The Quay St seawall will have been strengthened and Quay St redeveloped into a more people focused space.
- There will also be new public space built out over the water in the ferry basin.
- New ferry berths built along Queens Wharf
As part of the upgrade, Auckland Transport have put out a new video about it all.
I like the way AT are front footing this and how the works are needed now to cater for all the growth in people that will be in or passing through the area in the future. Also that they make it clear the traffic lanes, which were reduced to two late last year, won’t be going back to four lanes when the works are complete.
That the car lanes won’t be coming back is something I think increasingly people are getting the message about. My anecdotal observations from walking between the train and the bus is that already things aren’t as bad as they were when the works started. This will likely see the trend of fewer cars in the city continuing – ATs data shows that in just over 3 years, the number of cars entering the city in the AM peak has reduced by over 5,100. My guess is when we get the data for April to June we’ll see the trend continuing downwards. It will drop even future once Access for Everyone starts to be delivered.
Of course, if you’re someone who thinks the city centre should be designed so you can race through it you’re not likely to be happy about this but my guess is that once the works are completed, like with other improvements in recent times, most people who oppose the changes, like the MP Pippa refers to below, will vanish into the woodwork.
I've been asked to "stop the madness on Quay St" by an MP who wants to continue using downtown as a thoroughfare. This vid is excellent at explaining what's coming to create an amazing destination #loveAKL https://t.co/GYD3FxRZLb
— Pippa Coom (@pippacoom) July 1, 2019
I asked him about his vision for Quay St when Americas Cup is on and he had no answer. Just wants to keep driving the same route he has always taken.
— Pippa Coom (@pippacoom) July 1, 2019
As a daily user of NX1 buses, one project I’ve been keen to get more information on is what is planned for Lower Albert St. That’s because while the busway stations themselves are high quality, the city end is far from it, for example you can’t even top up a HOP card there, and yet the Albert St stop is possibly the busiest bus stop in all of the city. I asked AT what features would be included in the upgrade Here’s what they said the bus interchange would include
- 4 stop locations that cater for 11 busses loading/unloading passengers
- 6 bespoke shelters
- Seating and furniture
- Digital PIDs, information boards and ticket machines
- Wayfinding signage
- Public toilet (located on Commercial Bay land in front of AMP)
- Signalised mid-block connection between the two sides of the street.
I’m glad to see there’ll be a mid-block crossing. One thing I had feared was that there would be some silly attempt to force all pedestrians to use the over-bridge between the PWC tower and the new Commercial Bay shops.
AT also say that construction of the bus interchange is scheduled for late 2019 however that delays to the CRL works on Lower Albert St might have some impact to this.
Further along the waterfront, on Thursday Panuku announced they were “pushing pause” on the new Wynyard Crossing bridge. This was to replace the existing lifting bridge which was only ever meant to be temporary. In pausing the project, Panuku cited the need for additional works and not likely being able to get it completed in time for the America’s Cup. Simon Wilson also suggested that cost was a significant factor with it rumoured to be costing $10 million more than the $27 million initially expected. This is not the first time the permanent bridge has been delayed and personally I hope that the pause is used to come up with a wider design to cater for all users. What was proposed by Panuku was an improvement, but only adding 1.4m to the width was simply not enough for what is such a crucial crossing.