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Divided opinion over Quay St

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014
Quay St

MAYBE BABY: An artist’s impression of the potential redevelopment of Quay St.

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The long-awaited Quay St revamp is a "waste of money" and should be put on the back burner because of the city's growing debt, Cameron Brewer says.

Quay St has been earmarked for change and ideas put forward include creating a boulevard for shared pedestrian and vehicle use.

Outdoor dining and recreation is also likely to be enhanced along the corridor which connects the central city to eastern areas like Parnell and Mission Bay.

The idea is outlined in the City Centre Masterplan, a blueprint for Auckland's business hub created by a group of stakeholders including Auckland Council. Nothing is set in stone and any proposal will be subject to feedback from Aucklanders.

The Orakei councillor says the future of Quay St is not a priority considering Auckland's financial circumstances.

In the next 11 months the city needs to find more than $2 billion of savings in order to keep rate rises at 2.5 per cent.

"I can't believe that tens of millions of dollars is going to be spent on prettying up Quay St when council is facing a big budget blowout," Brewer says.

"With council turning Quay St into a more pedestrianised boulevard and giving Customs St greater bus priority, where on earth will the 30,000 daily cars go?

"It's a critical east-west link and let's not forget the years of construction and added disruption for a City Rail Link."

Brewer says the project is not a priority for ratepayers right now.

"Most days it's a pretty hostile wind tunnel, it's never going to be much of a place to eat your lunch and sun your legs."

But councillor Mike Lee says Quay St should be a funding priority and believes undergrounding traffic should be revisited.

Putting traffic underground and leaving the street as open space was investigated in the 1990s during Les Mills' turn as mayor.

Rick Walden, of the City Centre Integration group, says the legacy council proposal would be taken into consideration when Quay St's redevelopment goes out for consultation.

Walden says expressions of interest for designing a new Quay St are being sought. A report on Quay St will return to the Auckland Development Committee by August.

SEAWALL UPGRADE TOPS $40m

A $40 million seismic upgrade to Auckland's downtown seawall is the latest expense for the cash-strapped council.

But the works, due to begin next year, need to be done because sections of the wall "may fail" in a moderate earthquake.

In addition, urgent works to a section of the seawall between Princes and Queens wharves is under way to the tune of about $400,000.

City Centre Integration group general manager Rick Walden says the risk "isn't huge, but it has been identified that in a moderate seismic event the wall, in places, may fail".

The seawall repairs could take several months. Stormy weather last week delayed work.

Ferries and other wharf activity would be largely unaffected, he says.

Work done to the seawall must align with and take into consideration any future redevelopment of Quay St, he says.

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"It's complex work, it's complex design, it needs to be integrated with other city thinking but there is no intention in any which way that it will be delayed," Walden says.

"It needs to be done but we believe that the timing we have around it is entirely appropriate and we've taken advice on that."

- East And Bays Courier

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