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East West Link and Old Mangere Bridge Open Days

Another series of consultation events that will happen this week will be for the East West Link and the replacement of the Old Mangere Bridge.

Communities will get the chance to have their say about two significant transport projects in their area – the East West Connections and the replacement of the of the old Mangere bridge.

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport say there is an open invitation for people to attend three community days planned for later this month. Two of them – at the Onehunga night market (Thursday 24 July, 6pm-10pm) and at Sylvia Park shopping mall near the foodcourt (Sunday 27 July, 10am-1pm) – focus on the East West Connections project. The third – at Waterfront Road Reserve, Mangere Bridge (Saturday 26 July, 10am-4pm) – will focus on both the East West Connections and the next stage of replacing the old Mangere bridge.

The Transport Agency’s acting Highways Manager, Steve Mutton, says the community days deliver on earlier commitments from the Agency and Auckland Transport to work with local people.

“We want to build on the great feedback we’ve had from people to replace the bridge and carry that on into the East West Connections programme. This is the latest step for us to ensure that we fully understand what people are experiencing when travelling in Onehunga, Mt Wellington, Otahuhu, Penrose, Mangere and East Tamaki,” Mr Mutton says.

Community input will help the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport develop their East West Connections programme to improve commuter and freight links, public transport and walking and cycling options over the next 30 years.

“We have already identified freight issues that need immediate attention in Onehunga-Penrose – that’s a key priority given the area’s importance for jobs and the Auckland and New Zealand economies. We will be working with stakeholders and the community in coming months as investigations progress for those improvements.

“But we are not losing sight of the issues people are facing in the wider area. The vibrant communities in the area are likely to experience a growth in the number of people who chose to live and work in them. The predicted growth will put additional pressure on the existing transport network”

“We’ve already identified the need to improve reliability of public transport between Mangere and Sylvia Park – there will be other areas for improvement. We want the conversation with local people now so that as we progress with improvements in Onehunga-Penrose, we can also continue to work with communities to address their issues,” says Mr Mutton.

The community day at Mangere Bridge on 26 July will also be a chance for people to see the proposed design for the new bridge connecting Onehunga and Mangere Bridge.

“The earlier feedback from the community was a catalyst for the project and guided the bridge design,” Mr Mutton says. “We’ve worked hard to integrate the community’s requests, and we’re optimistic that they will be pleased with our design when they see it.”

Some features of the original bridge will be retained, with the new structure curving towards the motorway bridge. It will be high enough for small boats to pass underneath. A wider span also means that some form of opening for larger craft is not precluded in future. Two artists have been commissioned to incorporate the area’s history and values into the design through art.

“Replacing the old bridge and the East West Connections are two very different projects with one similar outcome – helping the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport get the best solutions to improve the area’s transport network. We want to hear the views of people to help achieve that,” Mr Mutton says.

On the East West Link it will be interesting to see if they actually show what they plan to do for the project or if they will just talk about the need for it. This is especially the case as I know they showed business and road lobby groups exactly what they plan to build about 7 months ago.

We can get a bit of a background as to what they will show from some of the information on the AT website including this image which highlights all the issues they’ve identified in the area.

East-West Issues

For a big click the photo or for the original it’s from here (5MB).

This image (on the NZTA website) shows all of the projects going on in the area.

East West Other Projects Large

As for the Old Mangere Bridge Replacement this newsletter shows a couple of impressions of what it may look like.

Mangere Bridge Replacement Total

 

Waterview Shared Path

Auckland Transport is holding an open day to discuss their plans for a shared path between Waterview and Mt Albert which was required as part of the Board of Inquiry for the Waterview Connection project.

Auckland Transport is about to unveil plans for a new walking and cycling link between Waterview and Mt Albert.

Delivered as part of the Waterview Connection project, the shared path will add to Auckland’s growing cycling and walking network, connecting with the north-western (SH16) cycle route and existing shared paths to Onehunga and New Lynn.

Auckland Transport has investigated a range of options, talked with property owners and developed a concept design for the path. We’re now ready to show our designs to the public, so come along and give us your thoughts.

The Waterview shared path will be around 2.4km long and around 3.5 metres wide, running from Alan Wood Reserve off New North Road, following the route of Oakley Creek and connecting with Great North Road (map attached).

Two new bridges will be built along the route – one across Oakley Creek and the other over the western rail line – to connect communities to the path. There will also be easy access to the path at various points along the route, such as Phyllis Reserve and the Unitec campus.

Details on the Waterview shared path will be revealed at two public open days – the first on Wednesday 23 July, 3pm to 7pm, at Metro Football Club, in Phyllis Reserve, Mt Albert; and the second on Thursday 24 July, 3pm to 7pm, at Avondale Baptist Church, 1288 New North Road, Avondale. The project team will be on hand to answer questions.

AT’s Community Transport manager Matthew Rednall says the shared path will be great for the local community.

“Not only will it mean safe traffic-free links and improved access to local schools, colleges and other community facilities, it’ll be a great place to get some exercise,” he says.

“The path will be well lit and have a low gradient to make it safe and easy to use.”

Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and take around 12 months to complete.

This is the route the path will take

Waterview Cycleway Route

I’m please to see this being progressed however there are already a number of questions in my head about this project.

  • Why is it only starting construction in late 2016. This seems especially odd considering how fast the NZTA seems to be moving on the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Cycleway which has construction starting in a few months.
  • The route seems more about recreation than transport with the indirect route it takes and sharp slow speed turns – AT have said that this is to provide links to the community, not build through the sports grounds and that closer to the creek isn’t suitable for building.
  • Will AT be installing lights on the intersection of Soljak Pl/New North Rd/Bollard Ave? New North Rd is a high volume four lane arterial road that without any kind of crossing is going to be difficult to cross.
  • We’ve started seeing a lot of design being incorporated in pedestrian/cycle bridges in recent years, the concept for the bridge across the Oakley Creek that AT have on their website seems to shun that completely.

Waterview Cycleway - Alford Bridge artist concept

Grafton Gully Cycleway getting closer

The Grafton Gully Cycleway has been under construction for some time now and it’s clearly getting close to completion. It’s due to open in September along with the first section of the Beach Rd cycleway which will be our first protected cycleway. Here are some images from the Southern end.

Coming from Upper Queen St and travelling above the motorway.

Grafton Gully Cycleway July 14 3

Weaving under the motorway ramp

Grafton Gully Cycleway July 14 4

Looking North from Grafton Bridge, still some concrete to be poured here.

Grafton Gully Cycleway July 14 2

Looking North from Grafton Bridge towards Wellesley St where an underpass has been built

Grafton Gully Cycleway July 14 1

I’m looking forward to this being open.

Footpath Clutter

When I was out looking at the trial bus shelters on Sunday I was reminded of an issue that plagues our footpaths – clutter. Symonds St where the bus stops are suffers from this quite a bit but by no means is it alone. In the case of Symonds St the footpaths are made quite narrow by the presence of the bus shelters and is made worse by a mixture of

  • Light poles
  • Real Time Displays and electrical plinths
  • Bus Stop and bus lane signs

All this can make it quite difficult for people walking to get through the area, especially if a lot of people are trying to get on a bus and it must be terrible for someone in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Some examples of the clutter on Symonds St are below.

Footpath Clutter - Symonds St 1

Real time Displays, sign poles and even a car to get around – the car belonged to one of the guys finishing the installation of Shelter B and there wasn’t enough space for someone in a wheelchair to get around

Footpath Clutter - Symonds St 2

Looking straight on you can’t actually see down the footpath thanks to the light pole.

Footpath Clutter - Symonds St 3

And from a different angle you can see again the light pole, real time display and further down sign poles blocking the path.

One example I experience every day is on Albert St while waiting for my bus to Takapuna. The bus stop pole, light pole and bus stop board combine to completely block the view up the road (note buses usually stop with their front doors between these two poles).

Footpath Clutter - Albert St 1

Auckland Transport should really have a programme to identify and fix sites like this to improve the pedestrian realm and waiting experience for PT users.

I’ve seen plenty of other examples recently and I know many other readers have too judging by our twitter feed.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie/Auckland Shared Streets

This is an interesting video of Ben Hamilton-Baillie at the recent Congress for the New Urbanism conference (CNU22). Hamilton-Baillie one of the leaders of the progressive street design movement explains how the street delivers the purpose the city- economic exchange, social exchange, and cultural expression, or “money, sex and art” as he quotably sums it up. He describes the progression of the urban street from a condition where things moved very slowly, people moved carefully along and across the street-  to today, where everything is over engineered, and highly regimented and segregated. This dramatic change occurred with the  introduction of the automobile and enabled by modernist design philosophies (Le Corbusier, CIAM) and technical proponents (Colin Buchanan).  This led to the orchestrated surrender of our streets to the automobile (as described here).

At 26:00 Hamilton Baille describes the biggest problem with street design being the confusion between the utility of roads/highway and public realm. Highways are highly regulated, singular focused, and predictable, while the public realm (ie streets) serve a multitude of uses, are constantly changing, and require eye contact and other human cognitive skills. Combining the two results in a Frankenstein environment where people are caged off (or worse relegated to overpasses), signs regulate the most basic movements, and traffic movement is stifled. This environment works badly for both traffic and  the public realm. This is very similar to the Strongtowns concept of STROADS, which describes the horrible outcome when the function of roads and streets is blurred.

It is amazing the receptiveness that he gets in this forum. With regard to shared streets this is one of the many areas where Auckland is  a global leader amongst new world cities. Today it’s hard to imagine how these were ever built. Was there a traffic signal technology conference in Canberra during the week they were approved?

A few months back Google Streetview introduced a feature many people called the “Wayback Machine” which allows users to toggle back in time through their collection of images. I’ve grabbed a couple before and afters below.

Fort Street Before and After

Fort Street, Auckland – Before and After (Google Streetview)

Fort Lane Before and After

Fort Lane Before and After

For people interested in shared streets or think that the Auckland CBD is still riddled with of $2 and tacky tourists shops, take a tour of these streets:

Elliott Street 

Darby St (for some reason you can only see the after of Darby here)

Lorne St

Fort St

Fort Lane.

The Grafton Gully Multiway Boulevard

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.

Grafton Gully Blvd - area

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.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Traffic

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.

Grafton Gully Blvd - existing

Grafton Gully Blvd - existing 2

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

Grafton Gully Blvd - Issues

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.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Multiway Blvd Examples

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.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Corridor Width

Within a 40m cross section you could fit the below layout.

Grafton Gully Blvd - 40m Cross Section

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.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Development

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.

Heart of the City’s pedestrian counts

For a couple of years now Heart of the City has been providing pedestrian counts at a number of locations within the CBD. They are delivered thanks to a growing network of automatic pedestrian counters which means a huge amount of detailed information is available from them rather than what is available from someone standing on the street counting people. I first wrote about it back in March last year. One of the reasons this is so important is the old adage that “you can only manage what you can measure”. For so long the only thing we could easily measure was vehicles and so it was easy to justify new and improved roads often at the expense of other users.

Heart of the City have now taken things a step further, there are more pedestrian counters and they’ve now launched an interactive map that allows people to easily see the results.

Heart of the City Map

Click on one of the counters and you get a quick glimpse of the result and can see how it compares to last year.

Ped Count Map detail

By clicking on the View Graph button they now provide a much greater level of detail too including counts by the time of day.

Ped Count Map detail Time of day

You can also create a comparison chart of multiple sites and the data is available daily, weekly, monthly or annually.

Overall this is a fantastic resource that Heart of the City have produced and they should be congratulated for making it so easily accessible. It would be fantastic if Auckland Transport did the same with their automatic cycling counters and even their PT data.

Photo of the day: Underused Pipe

I think it’s vital we make the most of the infrastructure we build – of all kinds. This wastewater pipe was upgraded a few years ago by Watercare and looks like a prime example of a piece of infrastructure that we could get more use out and would make an excellent bridge – and even appears like it might have been designed with such a future use in mind.

Henderson Creek Waste Water Pipe

While there is already a shared path around this section, such a bridge would straighten the existing route and shorten it by about 80m as shown below

Central Park Pipe

Note: If the pipe wasn’t there and look like it was designed with a bridge in mind I wouldn’t have suggested it.

Photo of the Day: High St- low value use

The top of High Street is interrupted, dominated, and devalued by the double-laned exit from the Victoria St car parking building.

High St_4694

The footpath on the east side is frequently blocked by impatient drivers….

High St_4681

…while on the west side it is so narrow that the high numbers of people there are forced onto the oversized carriageway with the jammed traffic.

A classic example of the prioritisation of the driver over the walker. Some traffic engineer has greedily taken way too much of this public resource for only one type of user.

Furthermore the floods of traffic that this sadly over-expanded vehicle store generate lead to gridlock at the intersection as it is really too close to both the Queen St and Kitchener St intersections for the sudden volumes that this exit at times produces [people still tend to head out all at once].

At the very least the cars could be rationed out the exit by taking it down to one lane, but much better would be to move the exit up the hill onto Kitchener St where the entrance is.

Victoria St parking building

No problem adding an exit to this entrance here with a bit of reworking, the left hand space used to be the entrance before it was doubled. And AT would then have to sort out this intersection and its poor pedestrian phasing.

Vic park entrance

And best of all the High St ground floor could be repurposed for a human use: It’s the kind of hip industrial concrete interior that Prada love, but failing that: A pool hall, dingy nightclub, dungeon? ….. PingPong centre!

High St Big Mouth.

Anything would be better than that gapping maw and adjacent pissoir, and on the street that has pretensions to being the country’s preeminent fashion shopping strip. Well I suppose it did have those pretensions until the retailers there threw their coat hangers out of the cot and stopped it becoming a shared space, and now the action has gone elsewhere….

Note how wide those lanes are at the intersection; really they could be car width, and the rubbish truck could just hog one and a half  lanes occasionally. Until of course the car park exit is gone and High St becomes the Shared Space it obviously ought to be.

Bledisloe Lane being upgraded

The Council have announced a long needed upgrade to Bledisloe Lane is about to start. The lane runs between Welleslety St and Aotea Square and often feels dark, dingy and cramped due to the really low roof and lack of natural light. Here’s what it looks like now.

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade Now

Here’s the press release.

Work has started on the upgrade of Bledisloe Lane to deliver an improved city centre laneway and enhanced access to Bledisloe House.

A popular thoroughfare for inner city workers, theatre-goers and tourists, the lane which connects Wellesley Street to Aotea Square has often been criticised for its dark recesses and gloomy, dated appearance.

The upgrade will transform the lane into a brighter and safer connection with new paving, a new glass canopy and façade to Bledisloe House at ground level and includes an upgraded pocket park on Wellesley Street. The existing canopy which significantly limits natural light will be removed in stages between June and September.

The upgrade also aligns with the relocation of the council’s Customer Service Centre from the Civic Building to the ground floor of Bledisloe House later this year. The introduction of new value-added interactions such as self-service kiosks, combined with the new location on the popular walking route, is set to deliver a new standard of service delivery for the centre.

Both projects share the vision of enhancing the public’s experience of Bledisloe Lane.

Auckland Council design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says the upgrade is one of the many council projects realising the City Centre Masterplan vision to create a vibrant, better connected city centre that showcases Auckland as the world’s most liveable city.

He says Bledisloe Lane is a hugely important segment of what is described as the city centre pedestrian laneway circuit running from Aotea Square to the Waterfront.

“Currently the lane is well used, but its poor design quality does not encourage pedestrians to linger and enjoy the space,” says Mr Campbell-Reid.

“This situation does not fit well with the creative vibrant nature and potential of the Aotea Quarter cultural and entertainment precinct, or the kind of experience we want our Service Centre customers to have.

“Our plans to redevelop the lane, introduce a new service centre and redesign the Wellesley Street pocket park will transform the pedestrian experience”.

The design also considers future upgrades to Wellesley Street and the proposed site of the Aotea City Rail Link Station on Albert Street.

To expedite the construction works and ensure public safety the lane will be closed to pedestrians from late June to late September. Intermittent access will be allowed depending on construction occurring that day however customer access to New Zealand Post, Metro Centre and Bledisloe House main entrance will be maintained throughout construction.

The lane upgrade is expected to be complete later in the year.

All up the upgrade is costing $4 million and has be budgeted for in the current Long Term Plan. Like the shared spaces and other CBD upgrades in recent times, a lot of the money for it will be coming directly from the special CBD targeted rate paid by CBD businesses. Here are a couple of images of what it is expected to look like once it’s been finished.

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade 1

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade 2

I look forward to this being completed.