Auckland's future 'green link' in jeopardy

Generation Zero spokesperson Leroy Beckett says Auckland needs space for pedestrians to be able to walk east to west.
JAMES PASLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Generation Zero spokesperson Leroy Beckett says Auckland needs space for pedestrians to be able to walk east to west.

The transformation of a key Auckland street into a green pedestrian link is in jeopardy.

Linear Park is a proposed walkway that would join Victoria Park and Albert Park, which had unanimous support from Auckland Council.

The link was part of Auckland's 20 year City Centre Masterplan, and would recreate Victoria St as a green, pedestrian-focused road with fewer traffic lanes and wider footpaths beneath a canopy of trees.

A concept design of Linear Park - the greening of Victoria St.
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A concept design of Linear Park - the greening of Victoria St.

However if an option for a bus route proposed by Auckland Transport (AT) goes ahead the park would not be feasible. 

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In March AT launched its consultation for the Midtown bus route, seeking feedback about which route would work best for buses travelling from Sandringham Rd, New North Rd and Remuera Rd out of the city.

Councillor Chris Darby says council intends to deliver Linear Park.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Councillor Chris Darby says council intends to deliver Linear Park.

AT's preferred option 'Outbound on Victoria St' would have buses use Victoria St, making it difficult to reduce lanes and making Linear Park unlikely.

Climate change group Generation Zero was rallying against the preferred option.

The group advocated for AT's second option 'Outbound On Wellesley St', which it argued would allow Linear Park to happen and provide a better route for buses.

This option would have buses entering and leaving the city centre via Wellesley Street.

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Generation Zero spokesperson Leroy Beckett said it didn't have to be a choice between functional bus routes and Linear Park.  

"The second option sends buses straight up Wellesley St, it's the most direct option and it seems to make the most sense," Beckett said. 

"We need space for people, we need space especially for pedestrians to be able to walk east to west and this could transform the city."

AT spokesperson James Ireland said it identified Victoria Street as its preferred option for a number of reasons, but that didn't indicate a predetermined outcome. 

Ireland said Victoria St already had bus stop infrastructure, whereas Wellesley St would require putting in additional traffic lights which would delay other buses on Symonds St.

He said using Wellesley St would require the use of a narrow slip lane on the approach to Symonds St, which was a pedestrian-filled area.  

Transport commentator for Greater Auckland Matt Lowrie said AT's preferred option was the worst option for buses.

He said it wouldn't work without significant impacts on Albert Park to make room for bus lanes on Bowen St.

"The preferred route is flawed and further analysis, particularly of the cost impact, is necessary," Lowrie said.

Auckland Council's planning committee chairman Chris Darby said the council's support for Linear Park had been reiterated at a meeting on March 28.

"AT wants the route to be on Victoria St, we would like to see it on Wellesley St," Darby said. 

"We're only a block apart and I'm sure we can close that and land on Wellesley St as the preferred route"

Ireland said AT was committed to working alongside council and should Victoria St be chosen the timing and form of Linear Park would need to be updated. 

Generation Zero are taking submissions about the different options which are being sent directly to AT.

On Thursday it had received 1000 submissions.

 - Stuff.co.nz

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