Most people who visit the Wynyard quarter love the development that has occurred there so far. It is very different to how we have developed things in the past and a lot more emphasis has been put on pedestrians and how it ties in to the water. It has quickly become one of stars in Auckland and that is only set to continue as the redevelopment of the area carries on. The development isn’t just a favourite with the locals as it has now won numerous awards with the latest just the other day beating out a host of other international cities to claim a top waterfront development award.
Now if you are winning awards like this it is probably a good indication that you are on the right track and also suggests that extending the development as far as possible is probably a good idea. Well even before this award, Waterfront Auckland and the council were quick to realise the success and smartly decided to try and emulate it further down the waterfront and so in the City Centre Master Plan (CCMP) called for Quay St to be turned into a boulevard. It was also mentioned in the Waterfront Plan.The CCMP and Waterfront Plan went out for consultation at the same time as the Auckland Plan allowing anyone who wanted to to give feedback.
I think that turning Quay St from a 6 lane almost de facto motorway into a more pedestrian friendly zone while still retaining some space for cars is a pretty good compromise. Of course now, months after the consultation finished various elected officials of the eastern suburbs are now up in arms about the plan. Their key issue seems to be just how unfair it will be that they can no longer drive to the ferry terminal. The Herald today reports:
Anger has erupted over plans to turn Quay St into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard within three years – and the greatest upset has been caused by what critics say was lack of public consultation.
But Waterfront Auckland says it kept the community well informed about the “exciting project” and it “couldn’t have done more” consultation.
Waterfront Auckland’s plans, revealed in the Herald on Friday, could result in more crossing points, a wider footpath taking in a lane of traffic or two and opening up parts of the red fence to improve to the water’s edge.
The first stage – from the Viaduct to Britomart – is due to be finished by 2016.
But critics of the project say the Tamaki Drive Master Plan hasn’t been taken into account, the traffic plan is “just nuts” and the local board most negatively affected by the proposal was not consulted.
Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor said he was disappointed by the plan, which he said would take cars off the street in the name of beautification.
“This is a surprising development that does not appear to have been thought out …It seems to be motived more by ideology than practicality.”
Mr O’Connor said Waterfront Auckland was pinning its hopes on the “unfunded, yet to be built rail loop and a new ferry service”.
Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer said the suggestion that Quay St was not a busy road outside rush hour was “just pie in the sky”.
“This is a critical piece of transport infrastructure that carries over 30,000 cars a day. Taking out lanes and directing more traffic down the likes of Customs St is just nuts.”
This is an absolutely stupid argument. For starters 30,000 vehicles a day don’t need 6 lanes of traffic and there are many two lane roads that handle much more than that. Hell Dominion Rd carries about that same number of vehicles with only two lanes, one of which is a bus lane for a large part of the day. What’s more there are a number of other routes that these vehicles could use and very few places you can actually drive to that you can’t get to by other routes. There are still heaps of trucks going to and from the port using Quay St even though less than a decade ago we spent hundreds of millions upgrading Grafton Gully and providing direct connections from there to the North Shore specifically to get them off Quay St. There are also a number of improvements that could be made to other city streets that could be used to help spread that traffic out.
At the end of the day despite claiming the opposite, the arguments from Simon O’Connor and Cameron Brewer seem to be the ones based on ideolgy, they seem to be beholden to the notion that we must put cars ahead of people. It is people that make places interesting and lively and attractive. It is people that spend money and it is people that we should be building this city for. The recent improvements from things like Wynyard and the shared spaces have been outstanding successes and the best thing we can do is to continue these kinds of developments. The waterfront is to valuable for us cut off, all in the name of saving 5 seconds when driving and I suspect the economic benefits of improving it would vastly outweigh the impact to any vehicle movements. Its about time that these idiots go out of their cars and had a look at is happening in the city as even international press are starting to acknowledge the cities improving urban style.