Transport plan for 'an accessible city'
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Pedestrians and cyclists will be made welcome in central Christchurch while vehicles will be restricted to 30kmh and public transport will be streamlined, the Government's transport plan reveals.
After months of delays, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has unveiled how the future of the inner city transport network will function.
A huge chunk of central Christchurch, including Cathedral Square and three blocks to the north, south, west and east of that focal point, will be known as the "Core'' where traffic will be slowed and pedestrians will get priority over other users.
Cyclists will get a cycling route around the edge of the Core and access through the central city too while motorists will have to slow to 30kmh and have to contend with some changes to the city's one-way system.
The most significant changes include making Tuam Street a west to east one-way street that will be the key route into the central city from the west.
This change will replace the one-way route between Oxford Terrace and Lichfield Street which will revert to a two-way system.
The plan sees Tuam St as "a major accessway into the city'' from the west, for both vehicles and buses. Cycling and walking routes will also be developed along Tuam.
The other key one-way routes running through the central city including Madras and Barbadoes Streets will stay as is.
But Salisbury and Kilmore Streets, which are one-way streets, will be opened up to become two-way routes, the plan shows.
There are also changes planned for Victoria Street and Colombo Street, south of Cathedral Square.
The plan regards these as "significant shopping and business streets'' which will be dubbed "Main Streets''.
They will be prioritised for walking and cycling and have 30kmh speed limits.
Main streets will have a high standard of landscaping, surface treatment, street furniture and lighting and designed to match the local character of the individual streets and building frontages, the plan said.
While there will be less room for cars in the central city, more people will be encouraged to use buses to get there.
A bus interchange, to anchor the Metro transport system, will be on the land bordered by Tuam, Colombo, Manchester and Lichfield Streets and offer "walking connections'' to the southern half of the Core, the South and East Frames and the sports stadium.
Bus routes will mainly go around the edge of the Core, along Manchester and Tuam/St Asaph Streets.
More buses more often will be offered along those routes - every 10 minutes in peak periods and every 15 minutes at other times.
There will also be two high quality Super Stops along key bus routes.
One will be near Christchurch Hospital with pedestrian access to the nearby Metro Sports Facility, hospital, health precinct and South Frame while the other will be on Manchester Street (between Gloucester and Worcester Streets) to provide a link to the northern half of the Core.
"These Super Stops will provide passenger waiting facilities sheltered from the weather, quality information and dedicated cycle parking facilities nearby.''
The plan said the public transport system has been designed to accommodate "significant growth'' in usage.
The plan also features "a soft edge'' between the Core and the East Frame by converting Manchester Street between Armagh and Lichfield Streets into a boulevard.
"This will separate public transport and other vehicles, provide access to businesses and ensure a high quality connection between the Core and east Frame.
"Cycling and walking paths will feature widely in the Frame and in the Core.
"New parking buildings will be constructed in time and the plan said the amount of short-term parking will return to pre-earthquake levels although on-street parking within the Core will mainly be offered to disabled and short-term visitors."
A new bi-lingual navigational system, Wayfinding, will give drivers, pedestrians and cyclists key information including street signage, directions and information for visitors, pointers to the public transport options and other essential information for getting around the inner city.
Key partners in the transport plan, including the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), the Christchurch City Council and New Zealand Transport Agency will share responsibility for delivering key features of the plan with "working documents'' expected to be finalised by the end of this year.
Design work has already started on all the key projects while the first signs of construction activity should become visible early next year.
The plan shows construction on the bus interchange will start in mid-2014 but early work on improving some streets could begin in the first quarter of the new year.
Brownlee has been under pressure to release the plan for several months.
Public submissions were heard at the start of this year and the plan has been with the Government for more than six months.
Today's plan release only covers the first phase of a new-look transport environment for the city.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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