Plans to kick cars off busy Quay St

BOULEVARD BLUES: Councillor Cameron Brewer is not convinced the plan to make Quay St a pedestrian- friendly boulevard is a good one.
BOULEVARD BLUES: Councillor Cameron Brewer is not convinced the plan to make Quay St a pedestrian- friendly boulevard is a good one.

Commuters may have to find a different route to work if an Auckland Council proposal to make Quay St a pedestrian-focused boulevard goes ahead.

The council's draft CBD Waterfront master and Auckland plans suggest turning Quay St into shared space similar to Britomart and Wynyard Quarter.

The initial idea proposes light rail going east and west, two lanes of vehicles and cycle lanes all going from Wynyard Quarter or Westhaven Marina along Fanshawe St, across the Hobson St flyover and along Quay St to Tamaki Drive.

Ludo Campbell-Reid, the council's environmental strategy and policy department manager, says the proposal is part of the mayor's vision to reconnect the city with the water.

"We'd like to decrease the traffic volume on the waterfront and open up the waterfront as a shop window – as a first point of contact for tourists who come to visit Auckland but also for Aucklanders. People talk about it being one of the world's greatest waterfronts but it's not there just yet."

St Heliers resident Tony Simpson owns two apartments on Princess Wharf and travels east along Tamaki Drive to get to work in the morning.

He fears closing Quay St to traffic or even decreasing the volume of traffic along it will create more congestion.

"My immediate reaction would be: `Where is that traffic going to go'?"

He says more people will be forced to work their way through the city or add to the chaos heading on to the motorway via Stanley St.

"My next question would be what would draw pedestrians along there? I just don't know what would draw people down there."

Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer is also concerned about the congestion the proposal could cause.

"Quay St is a critical east-west connection and key to getting to the North Shore. If you close it down, it will put a lot of pressure on the likes of Customs St East, Beach Rd, and even the Auckland Domain," he says.

"Motorists are not going to trade in their cars for public transport. That's completely pie in the sky, and the current service and frequency of buses and trains makes it less than feasible. Commuters have no real option but to continue taking their cars, which will only transfer the traffic to other streets.

"We should be looking at improving the east-west connections, not closing them down."

Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert says the proposal for Quay St would make life easier for cyclists and encourage more commuters to use their bikes. She says it would be an ideal way for Tamaki Drive – the country's busiest cycle lane – to connect with the northwestern cycleway.

"Quay St is literally the key to opening up the waterfront to the eastern part of the city and way out west."

Ms Cuthbert says it is important to make the connection between the ferry terminal and Britomart bus and train stations more cycle and pedestrian friendly.

The project is still in the early stages and a final design is still a long way off, Mr Campbell-Reid says.

"It's going to be a case of a change of routes for some people and a slightly slower route for some," he says.

"Quay St has been designed for rush hour. It's busy from 7am to 9am but the rest of the day it's just a big piece of tarmac that's not working very efficiently."

The project, which is likely to take 10 years, was taken to councillors before the Christmas break.

Planners will be looking for public feedback soon and hope to report back to councillors in March or April.

Your Views: What do you think? Comment below and let us know what you think of Quay St becoming a car free zone.

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