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Traffic on Queen Street to move at snail’s pace

Traffic on Queen Street to move at snail’s pace

News piece by
Syed Akbar Kamal

*****


A new proposal by Auckland City Council’s Transport Committee has emerged to almost halve the present 50km/h speed limit on one of Auckland City’s premier business address Queen Street.

Presently Queen Street is undergoing a makeover to the tune of $44 million and work has been going on for months.

Ken Baguley

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Transport Committee chairman Ken Baguley says reducing the speed limit, and improving compliance by motorists, will help reduce the severity of injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists when involved in crashes.
Key improvements completed as part of the Queen Street upgrade include three new pedestrian crossings, widened footpaths and improved signal phasing. These have already created a safer environment for pedestrians and a reduced speed limit would further enhance this.

Ken Baguley says the council officers have approached him and said the average vehicle speed on Queen Street is currently close to 31km/h. The council had undertaken a traffic survey way back in 2004 and incidentally found the traffic speed averaging 31 km/h with just over 2 per cent of the vehicles exceeding 50km/h.

The Chairman of the transport committee observed that the proposal to formally reduce the speed limit is not expected to have any appreciable adverse impact on Queen Street businesses and retailers, journey times, vehicle emissions, or the quality and frequency of passenger transport services.

He was quick to add that this was not a ploy to garner more revenue through levying of fines as that fell in the Central government domain.
The proposed 30km/h speed limit would operate on Queen Street between Mayoral Drive and Customs Street.

He said Aucklanders will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal in the coming weeks. The Transport Committee will consider all feedback before making a final decision.

He noted that with the opening of the Northern Busway more reliable bus services and reduced travel times between Auckland’s CBD and the North Shore are expected to follow.

He says the busway and the council’s improvements to Fanshawe Street are important elements in reducing travel times and improving connections across Auckland City and the region for public transport.

New Zealand’s first dedicated two-way purpose built busway that took 10 years to build at a cost of $300 million runs alongside State Highway 1 between Constellation Drive in North Shore city and north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

To contribute to the busway’s success, the council widened, resurfaced and extended Fanshawe Street bus lanes, as well as improving footpaths, bus stops and pedestrian safety.

Fanshawe Street in the CBD is a significant part of the busway route, linking the northern motorway to Auckland’s CBD.

He was hopeful that work on the council’s Central Connector project starts on time next month on sections of Park and Beach roads and Anzac Avenue.

The project will see bus lanes installed between Britomart and Khyber Pass Road, improving connections with other services and between Newmarket and the CBD.
Mr. Baguley also revealed that the council is considering introducing the bus lanes on Queen Street in future and might go in for a bus station behind Bledisloe Building in the CBD.

“They are not on the agenda right now. There’s only so much a council can do with whole lot of projects going on,” he said.

“We have put a hold on 8 different projects and presently spending $175 million on 40 different projects,” he added.
He pointed out that a proportion of the amount would go toward consulting the consultants “for the resources that they have and I do not have any problems with that.”

“In many projects you get a 20 to 25% of percentage of the project cost being in all sorts of fees. We are not trying to cut everything out but we just want to get a balance to what we do and we want to make sure we can afford to do what we say we are going to do.”

When questioned why the work on Queen Street is taken up in instalments making the upgrade more expensive, he said that the previous council had more than 100 projects and running around with bits of paper and not being able to complete the projects.

“Citizens & Ratepayers said we don’t want to have more than 4.8% rates increase, therefore, we have to rationalise the projects.”

In the past years tens of millions of rate payer dollars have been spent on the make-over of Queen Street and Consultants and contractors have had a field day.
Mayor John Banks promised to end the regime of wasteful spending and rein in the culture of consulting the consultants. With the council’s eye fixed on Queen Street into the future, there seems to be no respite for the much harrowed Auckland City ratepayers.

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Syed Akbar Kamal is Producer/Director for current affairs programme Darpan-The Mirror nationwide on Stratos & Triangle TV.
www.teamworkproductions.co.nz

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