Work on the long awaited upgrade of Dominion Road, one of Auckland’s busiest roads and its second busiest bus route, will go ahead in September, following decisions by Auckland Transport and New Zealand Transport Agency this week, to fund the $66.3 million project.
The project which will transform Dominion Road and the key villages that it serves, will be carried out in stages and is expected to be completed in about mid-2016.
Work on the associated cycle routes on streets paralleling Dominion Road, will start in May and be completed by about October.
This has been greeted by Auckland Transport chairman, Dr Lester Levy, as a red letter day for Auckland and one that the New Zealand Transport Agency has helped to make possible.
Dr Levy says that the improvements to the road will give it the capacity to deliver up to 3 million bus passengers a year to their destinations, quickly and efficiently.
He says that because of the importance of Dominion Road to Auckland’s future public transport systems, with greater walking and cycling options and reduced congestion as part of the mix, Auckland Transport (AT) and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) had collaborated in the planning and funding of the upgrade.
NZTA’s commitment has been vital to an immediate start, Dr Levy says. “Joint planning and coordination has been followed by joint funding by NZTA, who will contribute 53% of the cost. This means we can start the search for tenders immediately.”
Albert-Eden Local Board chair Peter Haynes also welcomes the announcement saying the proposed upgrade is already boosting investment.
“It’s been a long time coming but with increasing certainty that it will go ahead, new investment has begun and we’re already seeing signs of renewal and rejuvenation. We can now look forward to a significant acceleration in the revitalisation of these historic, vibrant and diverse communities that are full of difference and character and are increasingly being “discovered” by the rest of Auckland and its visitors,” he says.
A principle outcome of the improvements will be the promotion of bus travel to achieve a projected 67% increase in patronage by 2021. Bus-lanes will be connected from State Highway 20 to View Road and there will be no-parking in them during peak hours. These measures will reduce total trip times, increase the number of bus movements at peak times and increase service reliability. For user convenience, bus stops will be located every 400 metres or so.
In addition to the bus lanes, a raised median will be installed in the village centres. The median will improve road safety and provide pedestrian refuges. New Zealand native shrubs and trees planted in the median will dramatically enhance the look. The median will also enable street lights to be installed on the centre line in the village centres, much improving the night time lighting.
Footpaths will be improved along both sides of Dominion Road and the three major villages of Mt Eden, Balmoral and Mt Roskill will be transformed, with landscaping and planting, decorative paving, seating, bike stands, lighting and pedestrian-priority crossings.
Each town centre has retained its own special character from the days when it was a stand-alone village and the differences will be maintained and re-emphasised with the choice of trees and the patterns in the paving. Rain gardens will also be constructed as part of improved stormwater management.
Cyclists, meanwhile, have been given their own routes on side-streets paralleling Dominion Road where the traffic is light, inherent safety much greater and exhaust fumes almost non-existent.
“With population increasing all the time, it is vital to undertake this massive project as quickly as possible,” Dr Levy says.
“Dominion Road is a key artery and a vital component in improving passenger travel – and safety - for many thousands of people. It will have an equally important part to play in the strategy for reducing congestion,” he says.
“Equally desirable is the opportunity to boost the quality, vibrancy and attractiveness of these historic town centres and so contribute to the quality of experience for people using them, and the quality of life of those who live there.
“I want to sincerely thank NZTA for the support they have given us,” Dr Levy says. The Transport Agency identifies the upgrade as a strategic project to help improve public transport and to make better use of existing transport corridors like Dominion Road, says it’s Regional Manager of Planning and Investment, Peter Casey.
“Supporting Auckland Transport and Auckland Council deliver key projects like this has winning advantages for everyone,” Mr Casey says.
“Improved public transport gives people more travel choices - they don’t have to rely on their car - and helps reduce congestion on busy roads and motorways.”
The Transport Agency’s funds are provided through its National Land Transport Programme which re-distributes money collected from fuel taxes, vehicle registrations fees and road user charges, into transport-related projects.