Here’s our wrap up for the week.
The Council has announced that they’re finally starting to convert Federal St between Mayoral Dr and Wellesley into a shared space.
A new shared space is coming to the city centre with work commencing in March to transform Federal Street between Mayoral Drive and Wellesley Street into a safer space for pedestrians. This is part of a wider programme creating a network of inviting, people-friendly laneways in the city centre.
The Federal Street Stage 2 upgrade will turn this section of Federal Street into a high-quality shared space for the many people who walk or cycle through Federal Street, work in the area, and for those who call Federal Street home.
When it’s complete in early 2022, the street will boast more inviting places to sit and relax, new native trees and plantings and enhanced lighting to support a people-friendly space. Raingardens will also be installed to filter stormwater and improve the runoff that flows into our waterways.
It’s great this is happening but it’s also a good example of how what should be fairly simple projects take way to long to deliver. Auckland Transport first consulted on this in late 2017 and it had support from 75% of submitters.
Speaking of doing things faster, that what the thrust of a great piece by Stuff’s Todd Niall (who has being doing some really great work lately).
There are a lot of big issues that lend themselves to the “supertanker” analogy about being slow to change course – the housing shortage, and finding cleaner, healthier ways to get around without cars.
As the clock ticks on the 2030 deadline to halve carbon emissions from 2016 levels, there has been a flurry of social media comment over remarks from the government’s transport agency, Waka Kotahi, that its budgets are fairly locked-in for the next three years.
Big transport projects take years to plan and build, and in Auckland’s case, the biggest of them – the $4.4 billion City Rail Link tunnels – won’t carry their first trains until late 2024.
Billions are still to be spent, money that can’t be diverted to new ideas, even if there was a mood to.
But while the supertanker might take a while to change course, city politicians can still choose to launch the lifeboats, and landing craft, and get to some better places quicker.
Auckland’s return to Covid-19 Alert Level 3 until Sunday March 7 serves to underline the need to think more cleverly about swifter responses in a fast-changing world.
But with calls growing for more priority to be given to active transport modes like walking and cycling, there also needs to be speedier and more creative thinking to deliver safe, separated cycle routes.
In late 2018 Waka Kotahi proposed some “quickie” pop-up bus lanes could be opened on motorway shoulders within six to nine months, to make bus journey’s quicker and more reliable.
It was an idea that took some years to take hold, before that proposal emerged.
More than two years later the idea has slid across to Auckland Transport which is now working on a bigger plan, including interim “pop-up” bus interchanges on the northwestern motorway.
Again, it will be a big step forward when completed, but nearly a decade of potential mode-shift, behaviour change, emission reduction and patronage growth on public transport will have been lost, from the point when the original “quickie” plan was do-able.
Hibiscus Coast Busway Station
Last week Auckland Transport officially opened the new Hibiscus Coast Bus Station.
Auckland Transport (AT) officially opened the newly completed Hibiscus Coast Bus Station – just off the Northern Motorway at Silverdale.
The station has been the public transport hub for the coast for several years – but only with limited facilities.
The new station building is now complete with 90 new carparking spaces (over 600 spaces in total), culturally significant artwork, a retail kiosk, bike parking, AT HOP top-up machines and waiting areas – which are well lit and protected from the elements.
The new Hibiscus Coast Bus Station will help people make better transport choices that reduce private vehicle use, ease congestion and benefit the environment, says Transport Minister Michael Wood – who opened the new station today, alongside the Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff.
On the Northern Express bus, a trip from the Hibiscus Coast Bus Station to the city centre takes an average of only 37 minutes at 7.30am.
This will be even quicker when the Northern Busway extension, between Constellation and Albany, is complete.
Improving Dome Valley Safety
The 15km of State Highway 1 through Dome Valley is a dangerous stretch of road. Between 2006 and 2015 seventeen people died and 45 were seriously injured in crashes along the route. Yet safety upgrades were avoided due to the previous government’s focus on duplicating the route with a motorway. The change in government in 2017 saw the approach change and in 2019 Waka Kotahi NZTA started work on a series of upgrades including widening shoulders as well as adding or upgrading median and side barriers. Some of these have been completed and yesterday a large stretch of median barrier started to be installed
Driving on State Highway 1 through the Dome Valley is about to become much safer with the installation of another 2.2kms of flexible wire rope barriers to prevent head-on crashes.
It follows the installation of an 800-metre wire rope barrier at the Warkworth end of the safety improvements project just before Christmas.
The Dome Valley improvements are part of Waka Kotahi’s commitment to help deliver Road to Zero, the government’s road safety strategy for 2020-2030, which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 percent over the next 10 years.
The new barrier will be installed in the road centre line south of Wayby Valley Road, from 70m south of Hoteo River Bridge to 100m north of Waitaraire Bridge.
“The barrier will make a real and immediate safety difference for the travelling public in a high crash area. This is a busy winding state highway and the barrier, along with other safety improvements, will keep traffic separated and safe,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency National Manager Infrastructure Delivery, Andrew Thackwray.
I wonder how many deaths and serious injuries could have been avoided if this approach was taken a decade ago instead of the motorway focus.
While on the topic of road deaths, 27 people died on our roads in February. That’s a little bit fewer than we had in February last year but still well above what it was nearly a decade ago when we had just 16 (and in a leap year too).
Finally, building consents for January were released this week and Auckland saw another new record set with 17,116 consents issued over the previous 12-months. One of the things that helped drive up the number for January was the consenting of Kainga Ora’s 276 apartment Greys Ave development and meant that during the month, both apartments and townhouses were higher than single houses.
Of course, we still have a huge shortfall so we’re going to keep seeing this level of activity for years to come if we’re going to address that.
Have a good weekend.