Archives for posts with tag: transport

Amongst all the other decisions at Council last week, they also voted down a roading project. A bunch of people are pissed about it – Waimak mayor, the NZTA – so the Press have gone in hard on the issue.

The city councillor responsible for overseeing transport in Christchurch is defending his decision to vote to pull funding for a crucial roading project. Cr Phil Clearwater heads the Christchurch City Council’s infrastructure, transport and environment committee and was one of seven councillors who last week voted to remove funding for the northern arterial extension and Cranford St four-laning from the council’s Long Term Plan (LTP).

The decision shocked both the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Waimakariri District Council, which were expecting the city council to rubber-stamp the $50 million project they had been jointly planning for years.

I think the angle the Press are trying to run here is “this guy is in charge of transport, so why he no moar roads???” It’s nonsensical. Just because Clearwater is the head of the transport committee, that doesn’t mean he has to blindly vote for roading extensions. In fact, his experience as the head of this committee should suggest that he actually has more expertise on the subject, instead of him being singled out.

And singled out he is – though 7 councillors voted against it, he is the only one named. The other six don’t even get a mention in this. Clearly, the Press don’t like the People’s Choice councillors, whether it be their opposition to asset sales, or their defending of the Town Hall. All that said, this seems a remarkable ad hominem attack on one of the councillors who was just doing his job. As the story belatedly mentions at the end, there was public opposition to this project:

The city council received 45 submissions regarding the extension, with 37 expressing opposition.

If only the Press had access to the names of the 37 people who submitted against this, maybe they could do stories about them too?

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This is a really good post on Christchurch’s future cycling infrastructure. I don’t have a huge amount to add to it, but would suggest you read it, if you prefer your cycling analysis to be backed up by research rather than based on wild speculation and grudges against bikes:

Even if the costs have blown out to ~$160 million, a quick calculation shows that the Benefit/Cost Ratio of the total cycleway programme in Christchurch is conservatively at 7:1 – a pretty good business case in most people’s eyes … Just for comparison, the much-vaunted Southern Motorway extension ended up costing $140 million for a projected Benefit/Cost Ratio of about 2.4:1

Given the state of traffic and roads in the city, I always thought transport was going to be a big issue this election. However, I was surprised that when we hit the streets on Saturday, changes to bus routes were the biggest complaint. The number of routes, and frequency which buses travel on them, are proposed to change – and this hasn’t gone down too well. There is a facebook group which already has over 1500 members. In a discussion on twitter yesterday, someone jokingly suggested that we elect more pro-bus councillors to ECan, the council responsible for Metro. Part of the problem is a confusion between the city and regional councils:

In Christchurch, responsibility for the provision of public passenger transport lies with ECan, but the responsibility for providing the infrastructure to support public transport, including bus stops, shelters, and interchanges, rests with the city council, which has caused some tension.

Mayor Dalziel has suggested that one or other of the two councils take control of the portfolio:

Dalziel said during the council’s recent draft annual plan hearings that either the Christchurch City Council or Environment Canterbury (ECan) should take over the portfolio. “The separation is what creates the extra work,” Dalziel said. “Either which way you look at it, it doesn’t make good sense.”

I think it’s definitely an idea worth discussing. While we’re at it, why don’t we put responsibility for passenger rail – which is theoretical at this point – into the mix and create a single transport authority for Canterbury?

I’ve covered the travesty that is the impending demolition of the Majestic on the blog a few times, but as I was walking past yesterday, realised that most people won’t be as familiar with the area as I am. The more you know about the area, the madder the decision becomes. I’ve made up a couple of maps, with three buildings highlighted on them: The Majestic, The Excelsior and Shooters.

2D majestic

The Majestic is on the corner of Lichfield and Manchester St. I and others have written about the history of the building itself. It is currently in the process of being prepared for demolition, with the main reason given being that the land is required for the “accessible city” part of the CCDU Blueprint. In other words, they want to knock down the building to widen the road by 9 metres. You could argue that in a 21st century city, creating a 20 metre wide road actually makes a barrier that is less accessible to the pedestrians who are meant to be living in the frame on the east of Manchester St. You could argue that, and you’d be making a good argument, but it would be an argument that would be ignored by the powers that be.

You could also argue that CERA seems to have an irrational grudge against the Majestic. For example, just 25 metres south of the Majestic is the facade of what was the Excelsior hotel. This building is now literally just a facade, propped up by stacks of shipping containers which stick right out into the eastern lane of Manchester St. As you can see from the photo, this is a current impedance to traffic on Manchester St, but CERA would rather concentrate their energy and wrecking ball on the Majestic, which poses a theoretical, future impedance to traffic.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see the Excelsior retained and rebuilt. It was a lovely old building, and the corner of High St in front of it was a pleasant, under-utilised part of town. However, I think it shows the lie of the CCDU’s actions; it is both a higher safety risk, and a bigger traffic problem than the Majestic, and yet there seems to be none of the hastiness to have its future resolved.

3D majestic

Just one block further up the street, on the corner of Cashel and Manchester, is the lamentable Shooters bar. Unlike either the Majestic or the Excelsior, Shooters has very few, if any, redeeming features. It is a fairly horrible tilt-slab building that used to be the home of one of Christchurch’s more notorious booze barns.

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I can’t imagine anyone will be chaining themselves to the fake cattle skull on the front of this building anytime soon. However, I have heard nothing from CERA regarding their intentions for this building. Perhaps they are planning to widen the road by 9m where the Majestic is, then run a chicane down past Shooters? Or maybe they have some sort of grudge against heritage buildings, and they are using whatever excuse is convenient at the time to pursue their agenda?

At this point, it’s hard to argue that the Minister doesn’t have some sort of grudge against he he famously termed “old dungers”. There is a comprehensive list of Christchurch’s heritage buildings here, of which over 235 have now been destroyed. CCDU acquired the building, and then CERA used the section 38 provision to request demolition, which means that there is no recourse through legal means to object to this process. CERA have also refused to release the engineering report for the building, despite saying they would when asked by the CCC in December. An OIA request has now been lodged to try and access this information. The reason given for the building’s destruction – which I’d argue is a spurious one – is that it is required to implement the “accessible city” part of the Blueprint plan, but at this rate, one has to wonder whether there will be any city left to access when Gerry and his mates are done.

 

 

 

One of the anchor projects in the CCDU blueprint was building a new Bus Interchange. This is part of the transport plan, and is set down for the block between Tuam and Lichfield St. This is where the old Council / Millers Building is / was.

Millers-Tuam-St_2This is the old Millers building. It was built in 1931, and was the first building in the country to have an escalator. I’ve always liked the building, and would have liked to have seen the building be converted into a transport exchange. Instead, this is the design that CERA has released for the Bus Interchange today:

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.52.38 PMMaybe it will look better in real life, but based on the image above, I’m not convinced that it’s a fair exchange.

 

 

The transport plan for central Christchurch has finally been released, and it’s another piece in a rather underwhelming jigsaw puzzle. There are a few things that are going to piss off some people – Tuam St being changed to a one-way street, whilst Kilmore, Salisbury and Lichfield St are reverted to two-way from their current one-way. Also, the speed limit for the “core” of the CBD will be dropped to 30km/h – though as Eric Crampton pointed out on twitter, that’s effectively what we have now.

While the plan says lots of nice things about cycling and pedestrians, call me cynical (go on, do it. I dare you) but I can’t help but be underwhelmed by this announcement. The transport plan on it’s own won’t do much to revitalize the inner city, but then, what will? There are two things in the plan that I do have problems with – the bus exchange, and the widening of Manchester St. The bus exchange is going to go onto the Tuam St site of the old CCC / Millers building – which is a magnificent building which could and should be saved, not knocked down to create a bus terminal. Secondly, the widening of Manchester St will see a bunch of buildings torn down – some of the last remaining ones in the CBD, as well as ones that have been built since the quakes – so they can get a bus lane in. Manchester St was very prone to traffic jamming pre-quakes, so I’m not convinced that running buses down it will sort that issue out.

It will be interesting to see how the new Council responds to this plan, and whether they agree with all the aspects of it. After all, they – not the government – are ultimately the ones who are going to have to administer it.