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Improved footpaths to reflect city character

Improved footpaths to reflect city character

Auckland City footpaths are set for significant improvements under a new policy that sets higher standards for footpath materials, workmanship and long-term management.

“The policy addresses the use of a variety of materials according to need and area, and takes account of site specific characteristics, heritage values, use and special feature areas. It also considers the asset life and long-term overall costs of footpaths, so that we get better value from increased footpath expenditure,” said Councillor Greg McKeown, Transport Committee chairperson.

For many footpaths in residential areas and parks, concrete coloured with either black or red chip is being introduced to replace the current standard “white” concrete, and in many cases the finish will be exposed to raise the appearance. Black asphalt is being retained for some areas particularly where trees affect the footpath. A comprehensive range of stone, concrete flagstones, clay pavers and banding treatments have been adopted for commercial, retail and heritage areas, with a view to retaining a high level of amenity in these areas.

“Besides making footpaths safer, the new policy provides a clear direction toward making them look better,” said Councillor McKeown. “We want to see patchwork repair jobs removed, and over time greater design attention being paid to whole street corners and streets. Combined with the appropriate selection of other street furniture, trees and a reduction of signage where practical, we can do a lot to improve our city streetscapes.

“The policy also considers the overall cost of different materials. While some materials may be cheaper to install initially, the ongoing maintenance cost and shorter life make them more expensive in the long run than more durable materials which have a higher up front cost but require less maintenance and last longer.”

The council is spending $20 million in the next two years to upgrade footpaths, and work will be undertaken in accordance with the new policy starting July 2003. “In this forthcoming year we’ll be concentrating on the footpaths in the worst condition, and will be spending accordingly across all parts of the city”, said Councillor McKeown. “Safety is our immediate concern. Areas outside schools will have a smoother surface rather than an exposed aggregate finish to reduce potential risk of minor injuries to children, such as grazes.”

Some 21 per cent of the total 2,114km of existing footpaths do not meet minimum acceptable standards at this stage.

Accelerated deterioration has been caused by a combination of high levels of activity by utility operators and building developers, tree roots, illegal parking of vehicles on the footpaths, inconsistent reinstatement standards and insufficient funding. Many of the city footpaths were constructed at a time when design conditions and standards were not as high as they are today.

In addition to higher design standards for footpath construction, measures put in place to improve footpaths include: strict requirements placed on utility operators and developers for high quality reinstatements that will last the life of the footpath increased parking enforcement for vehicles illegally parked on the footpath.

In conjunction with the footpath policy, the kerb and channel policy is currently being reviewed. One of the matters this policy will address is where and when bluestone kerbs should be used. These kerbs are a distinctive feature in some older areas of the City and are highly valued by residents in those areas. The kerb and channel policy will be reported in September to the Transport Committee.

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