Over 2 years ago Auckland Transport came to the Waitematā Local Board with a proposal to make safety improvements to the intersection of Angelsea St and Ponsonby Road. We supported the need to make it safer to cross but we rejected the engineer’s design as it failed to prioritise pedestrians (the proposed pram ramps off- set down Angelsea St would have made it impossible to walk straight along Ponsonby Rd). The proposed layout also did nothing to improve the street amenity and wasn’t consistent with the Ponsonby Rd Plan.
The Board (transport portfolio – myself and Christopher Dempsey -and Board Chair Shale Chambers) insisted on a design that provided a “continuous pedestrian experience” and that would be a best practice template for all the residential side streets off Ponsonby Road. Auckland Transport responded several times saying it couldn’t be done for “safety reasons” (in effect “the computer said no”!). Each time we pushed back – even though we are not traffic engineers we knew it was possible because we could see it happening all over the city and overseas with great results for all road users.
Fortunately there are people in Auckland Transport who were willing to challenge traditional traffic engineer solutions and push for a design that finally met the Board’s criteria (and responded to community pressure including a recent petition calling for greater safety on Ponsonby Rd). New and greatly improved proposals were presented at our monthly board meeting on 13 October 2015 together with a concept design for the section of MacKelvie Street just off Ponsonby Rd that has been transformed recently into a boutique shopping area but without any changes to the street environment.
Following an earlier resolution confirming support and budget for the “Ponsonby Road Pedestrian Experience Project” the Waitematā Local Board approved the revised scope and additional total budget of $242,000 ($114,000 for Mackelvie St and $128,900 for the Ponsonby Road raised entry treatments) from the Local Board Transport Capital Fund for the Ponsonby Road Improvements Project (taking the total project budget to $703,000) to include Mackelvie Street and Posonby Road raised entry treatments.
Surprisingly for a pedestrian focused project the concept design allows for 14 additional car parks resulting from the changes to the layout of side streets and on Ponsonby Road (there are also improvements to bus stops, crossing points and opportunities for new bike parking, seating and trees)
Auckland Transport is now moving to detailed design and public consultation (likely to start on 13 November). If all goes to plan residents & visitors to Ponsonby Road will be able to enjoy a safer and more pleasant walking experience by July 2016.
Note the concept designs are draft only and that they may change prior to release of the designs for public consultation.