Tag: The New Zealand Herald

Southern Motorway Gridlock

Bring Back the Eastern Highway?

 

And so it happened, an accident on the southbound lanes of the Southern Motorway (State Highway One) on the Newmarket Viaduct causing absolute gridlock for hours on end – and it even delayed the start of the Breakers game to boot.

You can see (what is most likely to have been caused by hopeless driving Auckland is known for) the accident and its absolute chaos from the NZ Herald along with a bonus video

From the NZH:

How one crash caused gridlock chaos

By Amelia Wade

5:30 AM Friday Mar 8, 2013

Inner-city Auckland traffic was brought to a virtual standstill last night after a motorway crash – gridlock that the Automobile Association described as the worst it had seen.

A van crashed into the back of a truck in the southbound fast lane on the Southern Motorway at Newmarket at 3.50pm, seriously injuring a man.

More than two hours later, traffic on almost all of the city’s arterial routes was gridlocked, with buses backed up in city streets and motorists reporting speeds of less than 10km/h.

Journeys that normally took 15 minutes were taking more than an hour.

Automobile Association traffic spokesman Phil Allen said he had never seen traffic so bad in central Auckland.

Are you sick of Auckland’s traffic problems? Send us your commuting tales of woe and any ideas you have on how to fix Auckland’s traffic jams here.

The association launched traffic-mapping technology on its site 18 months ago. Routes marked in black show where traffic is moving at under 25 per cent of the speed limit.

You can read the rest and watch the video over at the NZH.

 

I was fortunate enough to have returned from the success at the Strategy and Finance Committee ahead of that traffic disaster yesterday however it is going to highlight a rather sore point?

 

Would of the much vaunted four lane Eastern Highway expressway coupled with cycle-ways and even the Botany (heavy rail) Line alleviate some (not all but some) of the chaos yesterday by giving a viable bypass for those heading south out of the CBD. Those coming from the north would have used the Western Ring Route (State Highways 16 and 20) if it had been completed by now as an extra backup.

 

The Eastern Highway and Botany Line basically followed this trajectory before its mothballing in 2004

Eastern Highway and Botany Line
Eastern Highway and Botany Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click for full resolution

 

I have the original EASTDOR report into the four options available for the Eastern Highway and will get them uploaded when I return from Australia.

But for now just ponder to yourself; The Eastern Highway – that critical back up for the CBD we now miss.

 

Of course I am waiting for the fringe brigades from both the pro road, and pro public transport and nothing else to pipe up and basically kill the debate before it starts…

 

Just remember folks – the Eastern Highway provided an absolute full suite of actual integrated transport options such as: road, freight way, bus priorities, cycle ways and even heavy rail to a part of Auckland not served by rail as of current. I suppose I could have the last laugh after the project was mothballed in 2004 and how (as it would have been completed by now) it could have made a pure crap day just that slightly bit better for those stuck last night…

 

More to Ponder Over

Needing Help?

 

While I have one “Thought” post on ice as I check that it won’t land me in the crap here is something else to think over while on holiday:

From NZ Herald:

Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

In what should have been a lovely, relaxing wind-down to the year, I found myself getting wound up instead.

Normally, talkback in the week before Christmas is full of callers ringing in with lovely stories of family get-togethers and their own personal Yuletide traditions, and we wish each other well for the holiday season. Nice, warm, fuzzy stuff.

This year, however, the news of a fuel tax hike on the same day the Remuneration Authority announced a pay rise for MPs – backdated to July 1, what’s more – had us incensed.

Bill English said he needed to impose an extra 3c a litre on petrol six months from now because he wanted to meet his target of a surplus by 2015. Growth has slowed right down, mainly because of rising unemployment, hence the tax.

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn’t work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch. Well, that hasn’t worked, either.

There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of ‘fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They’ll see the world, gain experience – no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.

Well, I’m not. Why can’t he just concede that this politics lark is a darn sight more difficult than he thought it would be? National was voted in because they promised voters they had the answers. They’d be a breath of fresh air. They were business people who knew a thing or two about making money, not academics who’d spent most of their lives in ivory towers.

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don’t seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.

Prices will rise because of the increased cost of transportation so the fuel tax will affect everyone in this country, not just motorists.

And don’t give me that nonsense about needing the money for roads of national significance – most roads of national significance are tolled. So we already pay a fuel tax. That will be increased. And then we pay a toll. Fabulous.

There are those who say it’s only going to be an extra $3 a week for motorists – not even the price of a cup of decent coffee. That just shows how wide the gap between the haves and the have-nots has become. Many people on low incomes haven’t been inside a snazzy cafe for years.

Why doesn’t the Finance Minister ask his parliamentary driver to use the fuel card to fill up the Beemer and take him for a drive to areas where people are really doing it tough? I’d like to see him tell those people that an extra $156 a year coming out of their pockets is neither here nor there.

I really hope 2013 is the year that National stops blaming the country’s poor performance on the recession and starts coming up with the innovative initiatives they promised us.

 

So some thoughts:

  1. Are we stuck for a lemon for a Government
  2. Is National on Empty and if so how long on empty
  3. Can anything be done by government to move this nation actually forward
  4. Are voters ready to make the hard choices including maybe weaning ourselves on big items like Working for Families?
  5. What are your ideas to move us forward.
  6. Are we ready to maybe swallow that dead rat and do something requiring  some sacrifice short-term for long-term gain – even if it goes against one’s ideology (The City Rail Link being the prime example)

 

I have a few ideas but will go into them sometime in the future. But for starters as I said above: “Are we ready to maybe swallow that dead rat and do something requiring  some sacrifice short-term for long-term gain – even if it goes against one’s ideology (The City Rail Link being the prime example)” – I am ready to commit to that sacrifice and go with moving the CRL forward. Call it the Gibbs gut feeling knowing the CRL is the most logical and pragmatic start in a range of options to be rolled out over the next thirty years to move Power Shift Auckland Forward.

 

But I shall leave you with those thoughts and maybe some ideas to help the government or more to the point getting this nation forward.

 

In the mean time, hopefully the ex-cyclone system otherwise was known as Evan doesn’t drown your Christmas out.

 

Have a Good Christmas Folks

And see you all next year! 😀

 

In Brief

A Brief View of Auckland

 

 

Was a busy day in the NZ Herald today with two different articles on Auckland’s Transport, and another two on our Council Control Organisations.

 

The two transport articles were:

 

In both these cases I have run commentary on these and are giving specific mention in my submission to Auckland Transport‘s Regional Public Transport Plan. Further commentary will be at hand as the week advances and I continue my RPTP submission.

 

As for the other two articles covering our CCO‘s, they were:

 

In regards to these issues, I have run commentary on this before and it seems I will be doing so again here at BR:AKL again this week if not next week. CCO’s being secretive is one of my pet hates and a campaign plank as I run for Papakura Local Board in next year’s Local Government 2013 Elections.

 

So yes today was a very busy day in the NZ Herald, with plenty more to campaign on for a Better Auckland here at BR:AKL!

 

BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND

Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL

 

Quay Street Nuts

 

Quay Street Plans Are Nuts

 

Well so the Herald has pointed out this morning:

 

From the NZH:

 

Quay St boulevard ‘just nuts’

By Amelia Wade

5:30 AM Monday Oct 1, 2012

 

Anger has erupted over plans to turn Quay St into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard within three years – and the greatest upset has been caused by what critics say was lack of public consultation.

But Waterfront Auckland says it kept the community well informed about the “exciting project” and it “couldn’t have done more” consultation.

Waterfront Auckland’s plans, revealed in the Herald on Friday, could result in more crossing points, a wider footpath taking in a lane of traffic or two and opening up parts of the red fence to improve to the water’s edge.

The first stage – from the Viaduct to Britomart – is due to be finished by 2016.

But critics of the project say the Tamaki Drive Master Plan hasn’t been taken into account, the traffic plan is “just nuts” and the local board most negatively affected by the proposal was not consulted.

Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor said he was disappointed by the plan, which he said would take cars off the street in the name of beautification.

“This is a surprising development that does not appear to have been thought out …

 

It seems to be motived more by ideology than practicality.”

Mr O’Connor said Waterfront Auckland was pinning its hopes on the “unfunded, yet to be built rail loop and a new ferry service”.

Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer said the suggestion that Quay St was not a busy road outside rush hour was “just pie in the sky”.

“This is a critical piece of transport infrastructure that carries over 30,000 cars a day. Taking out lanes and directing more traffic down the likes of Customs St is just nuts.”

Mr Brewer said he had been given assurances that the community would be closely consulted before any decisions were made.

Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson said Auckland Council‘s environmental strategy and policy planning manager, Ludo Campbell-Reid, had been to only one of the board’s meetings, during which he gave a short presentation on the original Quay St Vision.

“We were not encouraged or asked for any comment on input into these plans. He promised to workshop this with the board which has yet to happen,” Ms Simpson said.

She said the plans also didn’t take into account the Tamaki Drive master plan, in development since February, which includes safety improvements at the intersection with The Strand.

Waterfront Auckland’s general manager of development, Rod Marler, said the Tamaki Drive plan was outside its area of control and influence but it had been working with Ms Simpson and consulting the local board about its plans.

Mr Marler also said there was three months of consultation for the waterfront plan last year and included in that was the Quay St project.

“All the projects that we proposed for the waterfront had wide consultation, on general public bills, with key stake holders. It’s been through council, it’s been through local boards – there was plenty of opportunity for people to discuss those initiative … I don’t think we could have done too much more, from a waterfront plan perspective.”

Mr Marler said there was a roadshow for the plans, to which all the affected parties were invited, and there were also workshops with the council.

Waterfront woes

Tell us what you think about the plan. newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz

 

Might get some feedback to the Herald on this if I can be bothered getting round to it (lunch first) 😛

 

Now this was from Facebook this morning in regards to Councillor Cameron Brewer replying to the Herald’s “Nuts” piece (comments also included):

 

  • Local MP Simon O’Connor, local board chair Desley Simpson, and the local councillor went out to bat for their eastern bays constituents who woke up on Friday to the surprising news that the Quay Street boulevard is supposedly done and dusted!

    Quay St boulevard ‘just nuts’ – National – NZ Herald News

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz

    Anger has erupted over plans to turn Quay St into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard within three years – and the greatest upset has been caused by what critics say was lack of public
    • Ben Ross And for the rest of us, this morning in today’s edition of the Herald. Give me a second to check the CCMP and what that says on this
    • Jan O’Connor Quay St is crucial for the successful operation of all North Shore bus services – these services all connect with others at the Britomart Transport Centre. Are they mentioned at all? And how will the cars from the East ever get to the carparking in the Viaduct or Downtown. Ferries from the East – highly expensive operations.
    • Jules Clark If a lot of the through traffic using Quay St are trying to get to the motorway north, then they should just use the Stanley St city bypass. I’m actually happy to see that a transport decision is this time not “car-centric”. There are plenty of Aucklanders who would love to see Quay St made pedestiran friendly. I know this next comment will raise hackles, but perhaps all those in the Eastern Bays who are up in arms should stop driving into the city every day with only one person per vehicle. Stop being selfish and try public transport once in a while – or carpool and use the T2 lane!
    • Ben Ross Still looking through the CCMP…
    • Ben Ross From Page 90 of the CCMP
      Changes to Quay Street need to be considered in the context of the wider road network and public transport improvements, such as the restructured bus network and the City Rail Link. from entering the city centre, although access to the surrounding area. It will also have a critical role as a diversion route during construction of the City provision for pedestrians will naturally encourage freight and unnecessary freeing up Quay Street for an enhanced pedestrian environment with reliable public transport. Consideration of the surrounding road network, especially Customs Street, will be vital to ensure elsewhere in the city centre.

      Okay not good – although I thought in my presentation to Council said that the above was extremely fool hardy if not stupid… someone forgot to give Ludo and the Planners the memo 😛

    • Ben Ross I think the problem is that this part of Quay Street flipping over to a boulevard is somewhat too soon without actual alternative in place. Stanley Street and State Highway 16 is not somewhat of an alternative heading from the east seeming our engineers can not phase traffic lights for peanuts
    • Jan O’Connor The boulevards are wide enough already. Just going there now to inspect & see if I can count more than 30 people braving the weather between the Viaduct & Britomart.
    • Ben Ross Right I have gone through the CCMP with a fine tooth comb and if I am reading this right I have nothing but bad news (which I wish wasn’t). According to the CCMP in three different sections and the LTP, it seems Council and the CCOs have (now I am being neutral here so no opinion on being a passer on on what I am seeing) gone on limb here and consulted when submissions were asked for when the City Centre Master Plan was up for consultation. The CCMP also stated that part one of Quay Street works is due to begin now as stated.
      I remember so as I put the boot into the hearings panel (Ludo was present as I have a letter from him acknowledging my submission) on Quay Street, the CRL and Parnell Station while singing the praises and passing a few ideas of Wynyard Quarter. 

      However as I said above: the problem is that this part of Quay Street flipping over to a boulevard is somewhat too soon without actual alternative in place. Stanley Street and State Highway 16 is not somewhat of an alternative heading from the east seeming our engineers can not phase traffic lights for peanuts

      Emphasis on the last past with engineers, lights and peanuts!

      Look why I am giving a damn here when this is affecting Waitemata, Orakei and North Shore Wards and not Papakura is a case of who knows. But there is a way around this for Quay Street west (the Britomart end) I am just trying to think of something (Quay Street East is not affected yet).

      In the mean time I seriously need more coffee – I don’t get paid enough for this – wait I dont at all 😛

So from what I can gather unless my English and interpreting documents some what out of whack, these incoming changes have been signalled well in advanced in three sets of plans (The Auckland Plank, The City Centre Master Plan, and The Long Term Plan 2012-2022). Whether I agree with the changes or not is a different story although it can be seen above in my comments to the Facebook thread.

In short I have no issue with the Quay Street works, but as I said:

“I think the problem is that this part of Quay Street flipping over to a boulevard is somewhat too soon without actual alternative in place. Stanley Street and State Highway 16 is not somewhat of an alternative heading from the east seeming our engineers can not phase traffic lights for peanuts” 

 

Outside of that issue, I am not having major issues here with Quay Street (west) although I am looking at alternatives here (not whole scale Quay Street west – just some minor tinkering to smooth the works transition). As for Quay Street east, I already drew up a plan for that and submitted on it. However works in that sector are not due to after the CRL I believe, so still time to keep the dialogue going there.

 

Oh if you are wondering what I meant about sticking the boot in at that particular Hearings Panel; it means I strongly disagreed with Parnell and do not want that station built, was not overtly fond of Quay Street work so soon in the game, and as for the CRL – well you all know how I advocate for that mega project on a delayed timetable. But as I said, there was both constructive criticism and as I said singing the praises too. So I am not always a grumpy old fart 😛

Due credit is give when it is due – such as Councillor Wood is about to find out. 😀