Sunday, October 31, 2010

Long time, no post

Long time, no post. I'm posting on my blog over at these days.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Opening up Manners Mall

Here is my submission on the proposed reconfiguration of Manners Mall and surrounds. Quite a major change, in fact, perhaps the biggest change in the area since Civic Square. I hope a lot of people make submissions on this.

See Restoring the Golden Mile - Bus Route & Street Changes.

1. Opening Manners Mall to buses

Bus priority
The proposal ignores the already limited provisions for public transport in the draft Nguaranga to Airport corridor plan. The plan clearly states that priority will be given to public transport through this corridor. In particular it includes "dedicated bus lanes all along the route at peak morning and evening times."

This promise should be adhered to in the design. Manners Street should be closed to general traffic along its entire length.

Pedestrian space
There is a significant loss of pedestrian space with the removal of Manners Mall that should be re-established elsewhere as part of the project. Instead the proposal in its current form takes space from pedestrians and provides more space to cars.

Lower Cuba St should be turned into a mall as part of the project.

The 35 car-parks on lower Cuba St and 15 car-parks on eastern Manners St would be replaced by the 65 new car-parks on Dixon St, Victoria St, and Wakefield St, meaning there is still a gain for cars, but no loss for pedestrians.

If additional parking is absolutely required, a further 10 new car-parks could be provided at the bottom of the lower Cuba St mall. This could be similar to the parking provided on western Gray St. However, the benefits of additional parking should be seriously considered as it will only induce more traffic to the area.

Relocated bus stops
The proposed location of the bus stops at the Manners St and Cuba St intersection is inappropriate. These would be a major obstruction to pedestrian movement on what will become very narrow footpaths (3.5-4m) for such a highly used pedestrian route.

Instead, the existing Manners St, Dixon St, Cuba St, Courtenay Central, and St James bus stops should be rationalised to a new bus stop on Manners St alongside Te Aro Park.

The fewer bus stops will provide faster movement of buses. The location alongside Te Aro Park allows room for buses to pass other stopped buses. The extra room and the potential length of a bus stop at Te Aro Park also allows for different bays to be allocated to different routes, further improving the efficiency of bus movements. Allocated bays could also be implemented at the Courtenay Plc bus stop.

The Willis St bus stops should be relocated further south, to the section of Willis St between Mercer St and Manners St. Doing this will even out the spacing between bus stops after the rationalisation suggested above.

Closing Willis St
Willis St should be closed to general traffic and Victoria St should be reverted to two-way traffic. Victoria St was reduced to just one lane of southbound traffic for a very long period during the construction of the storm water culvert. This demonstrated the ability for Victoria St to be reduced in capacity without any negative long term impacts.

Traffic to/from Boulcott St that would normally use Willis St and Mercer St could be redirected to reach Victoria St via Dixon St.

The sketch below depicts this possible scenario where a dedicated busway is formed and Victoria St is reverted to two-way traffic.

  • Western Dixon St is reverted to two-way traffic.

  • Victoria St between Wakefield St and Manners St is reverted to two-way traffic with one lane in each direction.

  • Victoria St between Hunter St and Wakefield St is reverted to two-way traffic with two southbound lanes, and one northbound lane.

Road and footpath surfaces
High quality paving should be used throughout the Golden Mile. This should be started with the reconstruction of Manners Mall.

The picture below shows an example of high quality paving on O’Connell St in Dublin, Ireland. The paving pattern is consistent, well finished, and level. The pavers provide good grip while looking good. The roadway itself is level with the kerbs on both sides at the same height. The roadway’s width is consistent; it does not fluctuate. Kerbs are straight and regular. Additional small treatments such as the metal studs are used subtly to add effect, such as increasing visibility and safety.

At present, the north side of Manners Mall is significantly lower than the south side. The reconstruction should provide a level roadway in the centre of the reserve, with the kerbs on either side sitting at equal height. The roadway should allow future conversion to light rail.

To provide a level roadway the footpath on the south side may need to angle up at a slight gradient. The footpath on the north side may need to angle down at a slight gradient and require a central drain. As new building entryways are constructed on the north side the footpath’s gradient can be adjusted and the drain removed at those sections.

Utility tunnels
A shared utility tunnel should be installed as part of the reconstruction. This would allow services to be installed and maintained without disrupting bus and pedestrian movement. It would also prevent damage to the road and footpath surfaces. Plus, it facilitates any future option of installing light rail.

The long term costs of not installing the tunnel are greater than if it is done as part of this project. The actual relocation of many existing services to the shared utility tunnel may be too costly to consider as part of the project. By installing the tunnel and having it ready, it allows such relocations to be carried out as part of any future works or when new services are being installed. Eventually the utility tunnel can be extended through the Golden Mile as other major road works are conducted.

2. Changes to Dixon, lower Cuba, Victoria, Wakefield and Mercer Streets

Dixon St should be traffic calmed. Kerb bulbs should be installed to create pedestrian space for the likes of cafe seating. The intersection with Cuba Mall should be made narrower to improve the connection between the two sections of Cuba Mall.

3. Reducing the speed limit

Reducing the speed limit is ideal, as it will produce a safer pedestrian and cycling environment. The speed limit should also be reduced on streets that intersect with the Golden Mile, in particular, the section of Victoria St between Wakefield St and Dixon St.

The speed limit should also be reduced to 30 kph on Dixon St to make it a safer and more inviting for pedestrians and cyclists.

4. Traffic lights at pedestrian crossings

Bus movements should be improved by removing the general traffic from Courtenay Plc first. However, if implemented these signals should provide priority to pedestrians during non-peak hours.

5. Other comments

The proposal appears to be independent of any serious long term plan for public transport and pedestrian movement in the city. It does not appear to consider any follow on work when the capacity of public transport needs to be increased further. This creates a risk of increased cost and disruption in the future.

The time will come when even a dedicated busway along the Golden Mile is too congested with buses to work effectively. (Some would argue we’re already near that point during peak hours.) With increased demand and density it is inevitable that Light Rail will be the solution to public transport through Wellington’s Growth Spine. Planning for this should start now to reduce future costs and risks.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Where the North Shore/Manukau line could run

Since Britomart is full.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CBD Rail Routes

Old picture of possible rail routes for the Wellington CBD (hence some stray cosmic rays have corrupted the middle of it).

A1 - Under the station, down Featherston St to a station sitting in the middle between Willis St and Boulcott St. Ideally a full terminus Britomart style for the EMUs and for loco-hauled services such as the Wairarapa line. I'd envisioned a big development for the station incorporating the demolishing of Airways Corp house, and providing a nice connection through the station from Willis up to Boulcott in line with Chews Lane and Harris St. This is feasible at the moment, but wont be after all the proposed development for that area. Which is exactly why long term plans are good if this were a preferred route.

A2 - Future extension to Courtenay Place for the EMUs only.

B1/B2 - Self Explanatory routes around the waterfront. The B2 route with a terminus was lightly looked at by Opus for some particular study. In this case you'd ideally want to reserve some space here for 4 platforms so some services (e.g. Wairarapa) can stand for a while. This may mean that developments such as the recently proposed one next to Les Mills should be designed to cater for it (again this is why you should have a plan so you can mandate things like that).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SimAuckland -- Rail to the Airport

I've seen a lot of talk at different times about rail to Auckland Airport. The proposals all appear to be either extending the Onehunga line through Mangere, or head out the back to Manukau.

I've never understood why a link directly across to Otahuhu is not proposed as an option. There are few streets to cross, and not that many properties that would need to be bought. In fact not so long ago the path the line would've run through appears to have been vacant, almost like it was reserved for a road or something.

I also think this has the nice affect of allowing transfers between more lines (see second image).

Is the area too lumpy or something?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some example cross sections of what Adelaide Road could look like. These are for a future 26m reserve. Naturally the two-way traffic could be two-lanes one-way, paired with two-lanes on King Street (as per the N2A option). (Naturally two way traffic is better from an urbanist POV though...)

A 21.5m version of these is obvious, just narrow the two traffic lanes to one (wide) traffic lane, paired with King Street. As we know a few chunks of the reserve are already widened to 26m, and much of the rest is currently occupied by empty space, or small twilight buildings due for replacement anyway. The heritage buildings at the John St intersection could easily be moved back 4.5 meters. So widening the rest of the road reserve shouldn't be a problem (except for cost naturally).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Motorway configuration for Pipitea

This is a quick sketch showing a motorway entry and exit ramps for the Pipitea (railyards) area. If it were ever planned cohesively something of this sort would allow traffic from the southern/eastern suburbs to use the motorway for efficient access to Pipitea. And would also allow connectivity between Hutt Rd and the motorway to better serve Ngaio/Khandallah residents.