While a lot of the attention is on the big flashy projects, one thing that often gets overlooked is the potential for a programme of smaller projects improving connections between our suburbs.
I’ve been particularly thinking about this since the discussion about changes to the Eastern Busway last year and Heidi’s post last week on East Tamaki reminded me to get on with this post.
To start, let’s take a look at Burswood and the areas surrounding it. The residents of Burswood essentially live on an island, cut off from North, West and much of the East by the Pakuranga Creek and cut off from the industrial area to the south by the pseudo-motorway that is Ti Rakau Dr – something that won’t be made any easier based on the most recent plans for the Eastern Busway.
Thinking about a couple of potential trips as examples:
- A parent wanting to get their child to Riverhills School or to visit friends to the Northeast of Burswood would almost certainly drive them there than brave Ti Rakau Dr
- Someone working in the small industrial area just to the north of Burswood could potentially live less than 100m away from their workplace but be over 3km away by bike or over 5km by car away.
In both cases, this helps to add both vehicle trips and unnecessary emissions. Trips like these are also not the kinds of ones that are going to be impacted by big infrastructure projects like the Eastern Busway.
With around half of all our trips in Auckland already being under 5km, there is a huge opportunity to get many of these converted to a non-car modes if we can make it easy and safe.
Imagine then if we could connect up Burswood to the surrounding area by way of a few bridges.
The Local board does have plans to walking and cycling bridge from Burswood to the west and it was even included in a list of their priority projects in their 2018 Walking and Cycling network, with of course it being subject to funding – the path from Elm Park School down to Riverhills Park was estimated at the time at $1.35 million but the bridge was not costed and saying it “requires a formal feasibility study”
Additional funding for local projects like these would obviously help and I’m sure there is a heap of projects that will be both easier and important to deliver before even getting into the discussion of bridges. But gaps in connections between suburbs due to waterways like this are writ large all over Auckland but particularly in the East, West and North.
One of the problems with delivery for projects like bridges particularly is that almost certainly each bridge is treated as a bespoke project. But that got me thinking, what could a programme to deliver a large number of active mode bridges all across the region using a shared but simple modular design and the same group of contractors achieve. Could that bring down the per-bridge delivery costs by any notable amount and help in making these bridges more viable?
This brings me to the questions for our readers:
- If we did have such a programme, where are the locations you think could be good candidates for such an approach (and no, not the Harbour Crossing).
- For the GIS wizards out there, within the Auckland urban area, what location/s have a short direct line distance between each other but have the longest distance between them via the road/pathway network – it’s also not just waterways that create barriers, sometimes it’s just the poor layout of the street network that prevents easy connections between areas. Effectively it would be interesting to come up with a list of the areas most in need of new connections.