On Wednesday Kent presented a plan to the Waitemata Local Board for dramatically improving one of the worst corridors in the central city – Stanley St and The Strand. The plan was originally dreamed up by Nick (who is currently overseas). You can read the full presentation here and below is the area he sought to improve.
The route is a crucial one for Auckland yet it serves none of it’s users well. It’s fed directly from the motorway network so gets a large volume of vehicles many of which are trucks heading to/from the port. In addition it serves people moving east-west from Parnell as well as the growing developments between Stanley St and the rail line.
The photos below show how bad the area is, particularly for people walking and cycling. Let’s also not forget that a man recently lost his life on the intersection of Parnell Rise and Stanley St. It’s been said that he was at fault however it’s my view that no one should have to pay for a mistake with their life.
A large part of the problem is that the current thinking involves extending the motorway to the port which is no easy task the development that already exists. It has been assumed a tunnel would need to be built but that would cost huge amounts of money we simply don’t have, it would take up a lot of land, especially as it would need a full interchange and probably create even more severance, not less. An elevated structure would be no better and also made difficult but the rail lines. The indecision over what will happen has left the area in limbo creating urban blight and stagnation, particularly on the pieces of land that the NZTA already own primarily to the east of Stanley St. A summary of many of the issues is below
So if a motorway too expensive and creates even more severance what can we do to improve things for all road users? One potential solution is a Multiway Boulevard.
But what is a Multiway Boulevard, the key functions are:
- Designed to separate through traffic from local traffic
- Parallel roadways serve distinctly different functions
- Side roads designed for slow speeds, high access (including parking), and pedestrian movement and comfort
- Central roadway designed for vehicles travelling longer distances (through) at higher speeds
Examples can be found around the world, particularly in Europe but also increasingly in other places like San Francisco.
Key design concepts involved include
- Different realms for different tasks e.g. a movement realm, a pedestrian realm
- Buildings that face the street with direct pedestrian access and parking/loading areas on the street.
- Intersection Priority
- Closely spaced street trees to provide a full canopy.
So how would it work on Stanley St and The Strand? With just the removal of a handful of buildings, most of which would go as part of any motorway type development anyway, a continuous 40m corridor can be created. This includes under the rail bridge which already has a 40m main span over The Strand. The buildings that would be needed for 40m are in yellow, but it looks like a slightly narrower corridor might avoid them? Note that the curve next to St Georges Rd is already a road reserve, long planned to cut the corner and straighten out the route.
Within a 40m cross section you could fit the below layout.
A smaller cross section could be provided if the local access road was only provided on one side.
Lastly addressing the corridor would open up a large number of sites for development/redevelopment. In San Francisco a Multiway Boulevard replaced the Central Elevated Freeway and the selling off of the excess land more than paid for the redevelopment of the road.
Overall this seems like a fantastic idea, we address an important corridor while still allowing and improving the experience for a significant number of vehicle movements. At the same time it improves the experience for walkers, cyclists as well as local traffic. It opens up land for more development and in the process might actually help pay for a significant amount of the project. Importantly it also allows us to cross off the list what would have otherwise been a large and expensive project, that’s good for taxpayers and ratepayers. I really can’t see any downside to this proposal. Great work Nick and Kent.