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Northern Christchurch roading ¨C the next step

Northern Christchurch roading ¨C taking the next step

The Christchurch City Council is about to start the decision-making process on how to best meet the needs of future travel demand in northern Christchurch.

As a first step, the study partners - the City Council, Transit New Zealand (Transit), Environment Canterbury, Waimakariri and Hurunui District Councils, have released the traffic consultant¡¯s completed report of the Northern Roading Options Scoping Study (NROSS).

Stuart Woods, the City Council¡¯s Senior Transport Planner, says that even though the consultant¡¯s report has been received by the study partners and will be released to the public, no decisions have yet been made. ¡°The key, at this stage, is to make the information available to those interested. The next step is to offer briefings for interested groups. Next year, City Council elected members and Transit senior officials will offer to meet and discuss the report with interested groups and individuals. ¡°The Council will then debate its options and is likely to make a decision in April next year about what to do next,¡± says Mr Woods.

The report examines the 1600 submissions made by the public about the draft roading strategy released for consultation. It includes further traffic modelling analysis, which assesses the effects of modifying the draft strategy to address concerns raised during consultation. The report goes on and recommends a way forward.

It says there is a clear case for constructing the rural northern arterial from the northern motorway southward across QE II Drive to Cranford Street. The study also recommends upgrading the capacity of Cranford Street, Hills Road, Northcote Road and part of QE II Drive, and creating a new link extending Hills Road to QE II Drive. It recommends the western Belfast by-pass not be constructed in the next 20 years, based on current planning.

Transit has indicated that it had proposed retaining the rural northern arterial designation. However, the study has shown that this is dependent on the development of an adequate network south of QE II Drive, including increased capacity on Cranford Street.

Tagged for further consideration and discussion with the public is the extension of Grants Road. The report also supports the idea of further discussion on extending Rutland Street to Grassmere Street, with particular attention paid to its potential social and environmental effects. There were more than 600 submissions earlier this year against this part of the strategy.

The report is not light reading. The two volumes run to some 150 pages. The recent work is outlined in the second volume, about 40 pages, excluding the many diagrams and the public submission analysis. For those interested in reading it or the executive summary, the report will be available from the Civic Offices in Tuam Street and shortly on the Council website.

¡°I think everyone needs to understand that, in this case, doing nothing is not a responsible option,¡± Mr Woods says. ¡°A lot of submitters talked about making better use of public transport and of course the Council is doing that and it will provide part of the solution.

¡°But the reality is that the city¡¯s population and travel demand is growing. The predictions are that trips into and out of the city¡¯s north are going to grow by at least 40 per cent in the next 20 years. The way the roading system is now, it just won¡¯t cope,¡± he says. ¡°This study gives the Council a way to move forward by identifying the best projects for more detailed study and allowing less useful elements to be reconsidered or dropped.¡±

¡ñ The report will be received on 26 November by the Council¡¯s Sustainable Transport and Utilities Committee.

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