Out of all the exciting plans and strategies for Auckland’s future that we’ve heard about over the past few days, perhaps the one proposal that gets me most excited is the prospect that the horrific Lower Hobson Street viaduct might be demolished. You know the one: We have done some pretty horrible things to our city over the years (Mayoral Drive, Nelson Street, Victoria Park flyover etc.) but I struggle to think of a more horrendous piece of infrastructure than this viaduct: particularly because of its prime waterfront location and the fact that it’s right next to the historic Tepid Baths building. Along with the “traffic wall” of Fanshawe and Sturdee streets and the ‘concrete jungle’ of the downtown carpark, this viaduct absolutely ruins this important corner of Auckland’s city centre.
Which is why I’m so excited to read in today’s NZ Herald that one of the first key projects for the Council over the next three years is likely to be the removal of this hideous thing:
The lower Hobson St flyover should be removed to create a plaza near the Tepid Baths and keep motorists away from the waterfront, say city planners.
The draft city centre and waterfront masterplans both advocate demolishing the concrete flyover, which takes motorists from Quay St on the waterfront on to Hobson St or Fanshawe St.
Ironically enough the viaduct is actually a fairly recent addition to our streetscape, being built in the late 1980s or early 1990s from memory. At the time it might have been a key route for port traffic heading to the Northern Motorway, but the spaghetti junction upgrades of a few years ago mean that it’s now vastly oversize and does little more than encourage traffic onto Quay Street.
Exciting renovation/redevelopment plans also look in store for the downtown carpark:
The masterplans also call for the council-owned Downtown carpark, with 1900 spaces, to become a commercial office tower with shops, cafes and restaurants at street level and some carparking.
Currently, the flyover and carpark building blight the area, obscure views to the city from the waterfront and are a barrier to pedestrians, say the planning documents.
It has always seemed a bit strange to me to have such a prime piece of waterfront real estate wasted on being a carpark (although this seems to be a common theme in Auckland). Something like the picture below seems a vastly improved urban environment for this area: I just really hope this becomes a reality.