City Transport Plan Crucial To Avoid Chaos
May 2, 2002
Auckland is at a crucial stage in planning its future central business district transport needs and must act quickly on critical issues if it is going to avoid worsening traffic chaos.
That’s the view of the man charged with overseeing the city’s transport policy, Councillor Greg McKeown, the chairman of the Auckland City Council’s Transport Committee.
Councillor McKeown made his comment at a meeting of the committee yesterday on receiving reports which are pivotal to the planning of traffic in central Auckland.
One report - a Central Area Access Strategy - will determine the best traffic entry and exit points within the CBD as well as determining roading priorities for the central city area.
Councillor McKeown says the city already has a large numbers of cars and buses converging on the city, but there are several projects underway that make a clear CBD access strategy “absolutely critical.”
He says major motorway improvements around the CBD include additional lanes across or under Victoria Park, a major upgrade to spaghetti junction, and the current extensions in Grafton Gully.
“These projects will effect how cars and freight trucks move in and around the CBD, add to that the Britomart interchange, and the increase in bus services. This is a two-edged sword for Auckland City,” says Councillor McKeown.
He says the council is encouraged by the growth in bus passengers, but at the same time it needs to plan routes carefully to maintain the vitality of the CBD.
“The Central Area Access study will identify areas that we want to protect from heavy vehicles, including older diesel buses, but it must also identify and recommend which streets, for example Queen St, Albert St, or both, where buses will be given increased priority.”
Councillor McKeown says a rapid transit busway is being developed on the North Shore for $200 million, to cater for North Shore commuters who want to travel through the CBD to the University, AIT, Auckland hospital and Newmarket.
Out west, Waitakere City would like to see their residents travelling by train on existing lines to the Britomart Station, and then continue on light rail up Queen St and across to the Auckland Hospital.
He says Auckland City’s position at the moment is supporting flexible bus options, while preserving future options to move to other modes, including light rail.
The more immediate problem, however, says councillor McKeown, is getting buses across Grafton Gully. A new bridge is being built by Transit from the top of Wellesley St to Grafton Rd, but it has only one lane each way at the Wellesley St end.
“Given that the current Grafton Bridge is only one lane each way and cannot be widened, these two bridges don’t provide a clear route for public transport as well as cars,” says Councillor McKeown.
He says how to get buses across Grafton Gully is a fundamental decision to be resolved immediately. The new bridge does not have the capacity for dedicated bus lanes, and closing Grafton Bridge to cars to make way for buses would be a difficult choice