The refresh of the Council’s City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) in 2020 including the vision of transform SH16 through Grafton Gully into a multi-way boulevard as part of plans to support revitalisation of this part the city and improve connections to towards Parnell and the Domain. The multi-way boulevard would see Stanley St and The Strand changed from a pseudo motorway into a tree lined boulevard that supports people and development but also improves freight movements to the port.
The full multi-way boulevard is likely many years away, however, Waka Kotahi and Auckland Transport are currently consulting what they call The Strand Optimisation Project make some shorter-term changes to improve the corridor.
The proposed improvements include:
- A separated shared user path – The shared user path connects to the existing Grafton Gully Shared User path just prior to Alten Road. This will be separated from the road to improve safety.
- A Special Vehicle Lane (SVL) – A special vehicle lane will be created along part of the route to improve travel efficiency for freight and vehicles with multiple occupants. The SVL is proposed to be operational between 7-10am and 4-7pm (Monday-Friday) in both directions – depending on the outcome of additional traffic modelling and feedback. Outside of the SVL operational time, the lane can be used by general traffic. Similar to other SVL around the city.
- Bus stop removal/relocation – Two bus stops along the strand will be relocated slightly to accommodate new pedestrian crossings. The bus stop on The Strand near the northern end of Sudbury Terrace will be removed.
- New pedestrian crossings – In total, there will be 10 new crossings in the project area. Three of these are new level signalised pedestrian crossings along The Strand, plus one on Gladstone Road, one on Nicholls Lane and the other on the Stanley Road slip lane to Beach Road. These crossings will all be flat to allow large vehicles, trucks and emergency vehicles to cross easily. There will also be four raised crossings at Ronayne Street, Ngaoho Place, Cotesmore Way and Sudbury Terrace. All signalised crossings will be activated when people press the call button only. This will help to manage the flow of traffic along the road.
- Intersection improvements – Minor improvements are proposed at the SH16 / Alten Road / Nicholls Lane and Stanley Street / Beach Road / Parnell Rise signalised intersections. The camber of the road will be adjusted along The Strand in the vicinity of the St Georges Bay Road intersection to help reduce instances of truck roll-over events which have occurred in the past.
They say the benefits of these changes would see:
- 25,000-30,000 additional freight tonnes per day moving along the road
- 50% increase in cyclists with 70 – 80 new cycle trips per day
- Reduction of serious injuries over 10 years.
It’s good to see these agencies looking to make some shorter-term changes rather than just waiting, potentially decades, for the full vision to realised. It’s also pleasing that this is multi-modal and not just purely about vehicle flow.
The additional pedestrian crossings are particularly welcome as the area is quite hostile to anyone outside of a vehicle right now and this will help improve that. There are however already a lot of issues with speeding and red light running through here so it’s important that these new crossings of The Strand also include enforcement via red-light cameras or it will only be a matter of time before a pedestrian is injured, or worse.
The new shared path will make it easier to get from the Grafton Gully cycleway to Tamaki Dr. Shared paths are not ideal but for a low-cost interim solution is okay. There are two concerns here:
- First, some parts do look quite narrow and largely just relabelling an existing footpath as a shared path
- The shared path stops at the rail overbridge leaving a ~60m gap. They this is out of scope due to the cost. Are cyclists just meant to go back onto the road and jostle for space with trucks here?However, given there’s only ever single lane turning right from Quay St or left from Tamaki Dr at any one time and the second southbound lane over the bridge is only just a left turn only lane into Gladstone Rd, it seems should remove one southbound lane, nudge the remaining lanes eastwards and continue the shared path so that it actually connects to the cycleway.
The southern part of The Strand already has four lanes in each direction, making it easy to convert one each way to a special vehicle lane. In order to get enough space to extend those most of the existing on-street parking is being removed – there will be just six spaces retained.
However, anyone who has been along The Strand during the day will normally see the footpaths on the Southern side packed with parked cars and the agencies are planning to formalise a bunch of those. In total 39 carparks are being removed from The Strand while 35 new ones will formally be added (12 to The Strand and 21 to Shipwright Lane with an additional two loading zones on Shipwright Lane). There will also potentially be parking allowed the SVLs outside of peak times.
All of the footpath parking has only occurred due to AT’s decision not to properly enforce it (yet at the same time claim to need more funding). Does formalising this set a precedent that if you park illegally enough that AT will just change the rules to make it legal?
Formalising all of this footpath parking while not also seeking to manage what already exists (through pricing) seems to go against AT’s existing and likely new parking strategy. At the very least, these new spaces should be subject to that and enforcement but there’s no mention of it in the consultation.
As for the special vehicle lanes, why not just make them 24/7?
A few other comments:
Gladstone Rd Intersection – Like the rail overbridge, improving this intersection is also considered out of scope, yet the addition of a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing at Balfour Rd suggests they expect pedestrians on the eastern side of the road to make a 200m diversion. How many will instead just dash across the wide open mouth of Gladstone Rd?
At the very least, they could narrow those lanes down a bit to help in lowering speeds for vehicles travelling to/from Gladstone Rd.
St Georges Bay Rd – Changes to the chamber to help prevent truck rollovers, like happened last year, are welcome but like with Gladstone, it seems odd there is nothing done to improve this intersection which is make more confusing by the odd service lane that connects to it and then runs parallel to The Strand. One of the things you’d think would be useful to fix is how pedestrians are meant to cross it. There’s quite a large expanse of asphalt to cross without even a pedestrian refuge and the kerb cut on the Northern side of the intersection leads directly into a carpark which could be confusing for those with low/no vision trying to navigate the area.
Overall there are some useful changes here but the project could be a lot better with a few additional tweaks.
Consultation on these changes closes on 17-April (next Monday).