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Improving K’Rd

Below is a plan developed by the Waitemata Local Board working closely with the Karangahape Rd Business Association to improve the area:

K'Rd improvements

This is their accompanying text:

Over the next few decades the Karangahape Road area will experience a dramatic increase in growth, especially in the wake of the completion of the Central Rail Link. This will encourage many more people to frequent the area for shopping and entertainment – the creation of an entrance to the Underground rail Station in Mercury Lane would for example enable people from Avondale, New Lynn, and Henderson to easily travel into K Rd at night to attend theatrical performances at the Mercury Theatre . More people will live in the area as well.

In years to come the area surrounding Karangahape road will be inevitably rebuilt with higher residential units. A higher residential population is to be welcomed from every point of view – it will benefit the area economically and socially as well as improving the general environment ecologically by reducing commuting times and pollution. The increase in the number of residents in the area will probably bring a greater mix of people; at the moment there are few elderly folk or children for example but that may change swiftly after the completion of the CRL and more residential units.

The perceived and real safety and visual attractiveness of the streetscapes will be a crucial part of any development for the K Road area. In particular the volume and speed of traffic will need to be addressed. Karangahape Road is an important traffic route and the Business Association would not like bus routes (for example) to be rerouted away from the area, but certain things should be examined. Some roads in the area are prone to high traffic speeds as they have become to be virtually treated as part of the On‐Ramps for the Motorway System. These areas are very pedestrian unfriendly and it is vital that traffic calming solutions be implemented sooner than later.

This is an good summary of the challenges for the urban form of the area and the ideas on the map above are really good.

K'Rd

 

As the local board are calling for ideas for both K’Rd and Newton it would be good to get readers’ feedback on the suggestions so I’ll start the ball rolling with a couple of thoughts:

~The main entrance to the K’Rd station is planned for the top of upper Beresford St, this will involve the permanent closure of this road to through traffic [already restricted to one way onto Pitt St] and the creation of a public square around the station building which will be great, so the lower part of Beresford St will provide the road access to the buildings of Beresford and Day Sts. I find it strange the Business Association seems to be ignoring this. Only mentioning a Mercury Lane entrance.

~The connection of the abandoned motorway lane to Day St behind the old Rising Sun pub as well as to the new Grafton Gully cycleway and cyclelanes on Nelson St is a great plan. Also I think that the connection of Day St to K’Rd for traffic should be removed and this lane two-wayed back to Beresford. This should also link west across to Howe St under the existing bridge for a more direct and alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists.

~The narrowing of the top of Howe St would only be possible if the 020 bus is no longer fighting its way up that street.

~I don’t shared the Association’s enthusiasm for removing footpaths for on-street parking.

~Always yes to more street trees. But please not only palms, although I think the Nikau already on K’Rd are great.

~This area will see a rise in both residents and retail activity and the streetscape needs to improve with these changes. The CRL station will completely change the area; this will be Ponsonby’s station too [and especially Auckland Girls Grammar's], so the pedestrian amenity over the motorway should be better than just the narrow paths on the Hopetoun viaduct and the quality and liveliness of the Ponsonby/K’rd block will become more important. There is already a new major apartment building under construction in upper Howe St with surely more to come so perhaps something can be done to the terrible design failure of the block between Howe and Hereford Sts.

~Keeping the Link and other buses moving through here needs to kept in mind too. People from Ponsonby and other inner western areas will use these to connect with the much more useful and import rail system at K’Rd post CRL as well as to head into the City and Grafton and Newmarket as they do now.

~More and better pedestrian crossings are required. The really big elephant in the room with regards to traffic volumes, hinted at in the copy, is the motorway onramp at the  K’Rd and Symonds St intersection. Without this ‘attractor’ traffic volume would surely be much more manageable through these city streets. I’m sure highway purists at NZTA would be happy to close this as the city onramps all affect the effectiveness of the system and its all important flow. These are signs of the strange hybrid network that is our urban motorway. Weirdly I guess the best chance for this being closed would be if the disaster of additional lanes across the harbour were built then pressures further into the system like this onramp would probably have to be cut simply to keep the CMJ from total infarction. What a horrible price that would be to pay however.

~ I like the ambition of caping the CMJ at the two high and narrow points, however I suspect the cost and difficulty of constructing the necessary serious engineering while keeping the m’way system below functioning makes these plans unlikely to be fulfilled. I do think however that cantilevering lightweight structures from the existing structures of the Upper Queen St, Symonds St, and K’Rd bridges on either side would almost certainly be both structurally and financially viable as well as architecturally exciting and offer interesting and useful commercial space; shops, cafes, and bars etc [great views- especially form the K'Rd bridge]. Like a 21st century version of the shops on Ponte Vechio in Florence or the old London Bridge! Or more prosaically like 21stC versions of the clip-ons on the Harbour Bridge. These would provide both weather and noise protection as well as interest for pedestrians and therefore go a long way to helping to repair the severance caused by the huge place-destruction of the motorway system.

~Great ideas on new parklets and re-forged pedestrian connections are to found on the map above too; these are necessary and affordable improvements that should be explored and made quickly.

~And AT really needs to come to the cycling party by giving over the outermost lane of the over-wide and over-fast Ian McKinnon Drive to connect Upper Queen St to the northern end of the new Grafton Gully route under Newton Rd. Here. Planters, maybe some barriers, a bit of paint, and a chat with their colleagues at NZTA to form the short connection under the Newton rd bridge with a two lane: Proper joined up off road network all the way from the sea to the heart of the west!

Let us know what you think.

16 comments to Improving K’Rd

  • Warren S

    Palm Trees – a detail only…………..Once upon a time silver dollar gumtrees were the fashionable tree for suburban Auckland and nurseries promoted them and enjoyed big sales. But they proved to be not really suitable for Auckland suburbs – too shallow rooted and prone to blowing over in the wind. Nowadays palms of varying sorts are fashionable presumably because those who plant them want to kid themselves that they live in more tropical climes, but we don’t. We live in a temperate climate thank goodness. The choice of appropriate street trees is very important. Ideally they should provide shade in the summer and allow the sun to penetrate in the winter. And tree selection should not be limited to native trees which appears to be a politically correct viewpoint for many.

    • The palms the use are natives that thrive in our climate, still not sure that makes them the best street tree though.

      Whatever the exotics forming a canopy over Howe St are, use them. They seem to do just fine!

    • bbc

      I am guessing the choice of Nikaus on Queen Street is related to the density of utilities underground and the worry that trees like the Plane trees on Howe Rd or Franklin would have very extensive roots when mature.

      • On queen at they relocated all the services and built in concrete tree pits anyway, don’t think it would have mattered. Incidentally Nyone who is interested in what goes on under our streets should check out O’Connel st right now. It’s dug open and you can see a
        L the services, drainage and the new tree pit.

  • Neil

    No matter how good you make the roads and parks, K’Rd biggest problem is who owns the land. They don’t have the money, imagination or desire to redevelop the old buildings to take advantage of what a CRL station will bring.

    • What makes you say that? The seconds the CRL is in and the streets tarted up the building owners will be glaring with dollar signs in their eyes.

      I don’t think the owner of the mercury plaza will sit there with Aucklands scummiest food court taking up a whole city block once the entrance to the underground station is 20m away.

  • One thing that is missing is cycle lanes on K Rd itself, and the bit of upper Queen St between the Northwestern and Grafton cycleways and K Rd.

    The Grafton gully cycleway is all good if you are headed down to the university or Beach Rd, likewise the CMJ link good if you are headed to the Nelson st area…. But K Rd sits perfectly on a ridge line that wraps around to Ponsonby and Three Lamps one way, and Grafton Nd Newmarket the other. This is A grade prime cycling territory. Dense, mixed use, flat, direct. This needs to be thought of as the natural core cycling corridor that it is, both in its own right and as a distributor/collector for the offline cycleways like the northwestern.

    The idea that the Northwestern and Grafton Gully cycleways should stop at Canada St and not go the last couple of hundred metres to the intersection of K Rd and Queen boggles my mind. It’s not like that road is exactly short on space at 30m wide.

    • Guy G

      That ridge line does need to be used, it’ll make the whole Victoria square, Viaduct business area much more accessible for cycle commuting for those coming from the South and West. I wouldn’t say K rd is cycle friendly between Queen St and Pitt St.

      If you were to close the Symonds St on-ramp ,it would make a great cycle connector from Grafton bridge / K rd onto the new cycle way……

  • Guy G

    If you turned the old Nelson St city off ramp into a cycleway/pedestrian park, you could run a cycle lane down the eastern side of Nelson St and add a holding bay at Wellesley and or Victoria St Lights with a cycle cross phase in the lights to access Victoria park area. Given the number of new build commercial builds going on in that area, and that most are parking constrained, providing showers, and dedicated cycle parks, isn’t this one of the areas that is going to potentially see the greatest growth in new cycling commuters.

  • SteveC

    on a slightly unrelated note, while looking at the aerials of K’Rd, I noticed a redundant ramp through Spaghetti Juntion from alongside the northbound Northern link close to South St and comes out at Pitt St. I recognise that it has been promoted on this site as a possble linear park, however with a combination of clipon and ramp, it could connect to the Upper Queen St overbridge to give another uncontested cycle and pedestrian link from Newton to the top end of town

    • SteveC

      with a powered ramp up to the K’Rd overbridge perhaps? (in the planning stage anything’s on the able) http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2014/04/bike-elevator-take-you-steep-hills/8774/

      • Stairs with a portage ramp alongside would be cheap and effective.

        I also like the scheme of a crossing from the part of Beresford St in Freemans bay to Beresford Square.

        This could pass under the motorway ramps from Freemans Bay to under the disused ramp, then climb up with stairs or a lift to connect to it. From there a footbridge to Beresford Square. End result is a very direct and easy path from Freemans Bay to K Rd station, and the cycleway.

    • Max

      The use of the Nelson Street off-ramp is actually already in the official plans (and if you look closely, also in the Local Board’s Map above). The key is getting it done in a year or two, not 5-10 years.

      • SteveC

        I saw that Max, my thought was to connect it to the Upper Queen St overbridge to give a quicker and more intuitive link from Newton and the Northwestern cycleway to K’Rd and Nelson St

        it’s possibly too expensive, giving a marginal advantage over the Canada St/South St option, but there’s nothing like in your face to open people up to opportunities

        • Max

          Since the Canada Street option DOES include a cycleway (off-street), the benefit of accessing directly onto Upper Queen Street bridge (rather than accessing 5m (!) north of Upper Queen Street bridge really would seem to be pretty marginal – while the costs of constructing a new walk/cycle bridge over the CMJ would be enormous. I think we rather spend the money for new bridges on where they are needed badly. Like Wellesley Street East to Grafton Road over SH16.

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