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September likely start date for Queen St upgrade

MEDIA RELEASE
7 April 2005


September likely start date for Queen Street's
world class upgrade

Plans to transform and revitalise Auckland's iconic main street received support today from Auckland City's Urban Strategy and Governance Committee.

The revised concept plans, which were recently the subject of extensive consultation with business and property owners and users of the street, will now proceed to the detailed design stage.

Implementation of the detailed design is scheduled to begin, in stages, starting with the section between Karangahape Road and Mayoral Drive, in September this year.

"The revised concept plans strongly reflect the desire to create a more exciting and inviting environment for the increasing number of visitors who come to Queen Street for business and pleasure," says Deputy Mayor Bruce Hucker, chair of the Urban Strategy and Governance Committee.

"Elements such as using water to recognise Queen Street's origins as the valley of the Horotiu Stream, creating a leafy boulevard between Mayoral Drive and Karangahape Road, installing artworks and street furniture by some of New Zealand's best artists and designers and recalling the history of the street with artworks and plaques will achieve this,” says Dr Hucker.

"The revised concept plans also give priority to pedestrians through introducing additional mid-block crossings, extending curb lines at busy intersections, increasing 'green' time for pedestrians at crossings, eliminating free left turns, countdown clock trials and, in the upper valley, central media islands. These design features will create a safer pedestrian environment.

"The plans significantly improve pedestrian facilities by upgrading street furniture and installing these in areas most likely to get sun, improving the overall sense of safety with a less cluttered, cleaner footpath layout and introducing better lighting.

"The plan also recognises that Queen Street also has an important transport function, but does not rule out the possibility of changes as passenger transport improves."

Parking, a source of considerable debate during the initial round of consultation after the preliminary designs were unveiled, has been carefully thought through in the revised concept designs.

There are currently close to 5000 off street parking spaces available in the CBD. The revised concept proposes 51 multi-use stopping places. Until 11am, Monday to Friday, the spaces will be for loading and servicing businesses. After 11am, there will be a mix of short term stopping and servicing.

The committee has requested traffic volumes and short stay parking in adjacent streets is monitored as the project is implemented.

Feedback on the revised concept, which closed on March 24, indicated that businesses were now generally satisfied. Of note were Heart of the City and the Property Council of New Zealand both of which have shifted from having serious concerns about the impact of the preliminary concept on their members to being generally supportive.

While the concept design has now been approved by committee, many aspects of the concept's detailed design are yet to be finalised.

An expressions of interest process is currently underway to identify preferred suppliers for the major elements of the project including paving, lighting, vegetation and furniture. Until these processes are complete an up to date budget estimate is not available.

However, due to escalations in construction costs, the project costs are estimated to have increased from $23.4 million to $27 million. Funding sources to cover this increase are currently being investigated.

Another $3 million, funded by the CBD targeted rate, has been previously allocated to the construction of canopies and the entrance to Myers Park. Targeted rate funding will also ensure that the project is completed as soon as possible.

The Queen Street upgrade is a key project under the CBD into the future strategy to revitalise inner city Auckland as one of the world's most vibrant and dynamic business and cultural centres. Other key projects in the strategy that were endorsed by the Urban Strategy and Governance Committee today were the Victoria Quarter (formerly known as Nelson Quarter) and Aotea Quarter plans.

The Queen Street upgrade concept plans were endorsed by the Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee yesterday.

Ends

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