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Council hold on Onewa bus lane extension

Council hold on Onewa bus lane extension

A proposed extension to North Shore City's Onewa Rd bus lane system is to be put on hold.

North Shore City Council last night (December 18) decided not to go ahead with the extensions in Lake Rd Northcote and to the lower part of Onewa Rd, which would add to the existing bus and multi passenger vehicle lanes.

The council decided not to pass a bylaw which would have allowed it to enforce traffic rules on the extension, which was planned to run an additional 470 metres down Onewa Rd to the Onepoto Stream bridge, and 500 metres along Lake Rd, which feeds into Onewa Rd.

It also passed a resolution that the construction work not now proceed.

Some local residents have told the council that traffic delays had noticeably worsened over recent weeks, mainly due to the extra congestion caused by Transit New Zealand work on improvements to Spaghetti Junction in Auckland City.

The work on the Onewa Rd extension was to be done in the lighter traffic period in January and February, before the start of the new school and university years. Contract documents had been prepared, but the contract will not now be let.

Mayor George Wood and Councillor Joel Cayford, chairperson of the council's works and environment committee, were in favour of proceeding with the extension, as they believe it will form an important part of the city's overall plan to move more people over the bridge in buses and private cars.

Councillor Cayford says, "I am disappointed that many North Shore residents will now be denied further commute time savings because one group of residents successfully lobbied to protect their local access to this arterial road."

Mr Wood says the halt is not the end of the line - the council must respect the concerns of local people and find ways to work together toward a solution. He says the remodelling of the Onewa Rd interchange could well be the catalyst that provides that solution.

Councillor Tony Holman, chairperson of the strategy and finance committee, says that the concerns of all commuters should be considered.

"The time to extend the transit lane in lower Onewa Rd is when the Onewa interchange is remodelled to provide two 'on' lanes to the bridge, and not some years in advance - and not while there are additional delays to the motorway network because of the extensive roadworks to be completed in central Auckland," he says The existing Onewa Rd transit lane will continue to be enforced, with surveys showing that motorists are generally pleased they no longer have to sit in the general traffic lane and watch others jump the queue. Travel times have decreased, traffic flows better - and bus travellers are getting to their destinations faster.

The city was earlier given special permission by former Transport Minister Mark Gosche to allow its transit officers to issue tickets to those who don't follow the 'three or more in the car' rule on Onewa Rd.

Councillor Cayford says: "We have seen a daily increase of 150 cars carrying three or more people and following the rules, and this has effectively reduced the overall volume of cars using Onewa Rd and the bridge by around 300 a day. The increase in bus patronage we've seen already could also mean 150 or so fewer cars on the road."

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