The CRL took another step forward yesterday following the good news the Environment court has dismissed the final appeal against the designation for the City Rail Link. That means for the first time since the 1920’s when the first variations of the project were proposed it has an actual designation.
The City Rail Link (CRL) has reached a major milestone with all appeals to its land designation now resolved by agreement or dismissed.
Auckland Transport’s chief executive David Warburton says five of the six appeals were settled and the only appeal that went to the Environment Court has been dismissed.
The designation is now confirmed subject to finalisation of conditions by the Court.
“It’s a big step forward for Auckland. A proposal to extend rail through the city centre has been around for almost a hundred years but has never got much beyond an idea. Now we have a designated route,” says Dr Warburton.
“Early works start in November this year. While there are still some other planning processes to work through in relation to regional consents and Britomart, we anticipate a start on the cut and cover in Albert Street in May next year.”
The CRL is critical to Auckland, being a major economic development catalyst as well as a significant transport investment that will help shape and grow our city” said Dr Warburton.
“Already there is something like 170,000 m2 of proposed or consented development on or adjacent to the CRL route on Albert Street.”
The Court’s decision ends a two and a half year planning process to get the designation for the project.
The now confirmed designation identifies land in the district plan for rail purposes and protects the route for the future.
Well done Auckland Transport for this achievement.
Unfortunately it appears that this news probably dragged on much longer than it should have though. In their article about the result the Herald have also included the decision from the court over the appeal and even for a non-expert like me it makes for brutal reading against the appellants. There are quite a few comments about the conduct and lack of professionalism from the lawyers and expert witnesses. It appears the judge was very much of the view that his time was being wasted by them. Seeing as the same company through its subsidiaries also owns a lot of land in the Wynyard Quarter it could be interesting to see if they take the same approach to designation for an additional harbour crossing.
In related news, yesterday Auckland Transport also released some new images of what the Aotea station will look like giving us our best view of it yet.
The first image is of the Northern end at Victoria St. A couple of things I notice is there’s a ramp from partway down Victoria St directly into the station which is good as means that walking up from Queen St you don’t have to get all the way up to Albert St then back down into the station. Combined with the escalators on the western (uphill) side I could see that becoming quite a popular shortcut to avoid waiting at the Albert St lights. There is also planned to be an entrance directly into the mall and tower development going up on the empty site.
Moving to the southern end and you may recall this image of the station building which will go on the south-eastern corner of the Albert/Wellesley St intersection. It’s also designed to have a building go above it.
Here’s what it would looks like underground. I’m
And another view of it, this time from Wellesley St looking at the entrance.
The view from the platform.
Lastly a view of all these pieces together. I like that there’s multiple escalators down to the platform level, something I’m sure will be needed to handle the massive numbers of passengers who will use it daily – remember this will become the busiest station on the network, busier than Britomart is today.
You may notice those small objects at the top of the image above, here’s a closer look at them. They’re skylights built in to Albert St to let natural light in to the station. This also means there will be some form of median along this section of the road. Given this section is already fairly constrained due to the lowered service lane that isn’t being removed I wonder what this means there won’t be space for dedicated bus lanes along here?
I guess my biggest concern with the station is whether there is enough exits. There are only three for what will be the busiest on the network. Those wanting to go north of Victoria St will have to exit the station then cross the road instead of the possibility of carrying on under the intersection before emerging to the surface. On the southern side there’s only one exit. At the very least it seems like it would have been appropriate to develop an exit into the North Western corner which is owned by the council and has a largish area in front of the building. Given Wellesley St will also be a major bus corridor an exit out to the eastern side of Wellesley might have been useful too as on rainy days could see pour out of the station and straight on a bus for a quick dry trip to Uni. It wouldn’t surprise me if within 5-10 years of opening AT have to go back and add more entrances/exits out to the streets.