Mike Yardley: Auckland Transport needs to give Queen Street a break

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Feb 2021, 4:13PM
The pocket park that will occupy the Fort and Queen Street intersection at some point in 2021. Photo: LandLAB / Auckland Council
The pocket park that will occupy the Fort and Queen Street intersection at some point in 2021. Photo: LandLAB / Auckland Council

Mike Yardley: Auckland Transport needs to give Queen Street a break

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Feb 2021, 4:13PM

If you happen to be in a part of New Zealand enjoying a regional holiday, Happy Anniversary Day.

For Aucklanders, AT has injected themselves into your anniversary weekend with quite the gift-wrapped lemon.

AT’s latest gift to Auckland is their plan to kick cars off Queen Street. The transport agency has grand designs to radically rehash the city’s signature street into a sanctuary for buses and pedestrians.

Just how much of Queen Street will be declared a no-car zone remains to be seen. But AT is gagging to axe through traffic within six months. A pocket park will rise up from Fort Street and fence road traffic off.

There will be no end to end drive throughs on the city centre’s last remaining two way north south thoroughfare. Bus only sections look set to rule the roost.

To me, Queen Street is to Auckland what Fifth Avenue is to New York. It’s Sydney’s George Street or Melbourne’s Collins Street. And cars currently drive through all of these retail golden miles.

But ever since lockdown, Queen Street has been molested by AT’s pedestrianisation pilot. The vast and cluttered pollution of plastic pylons and concrete blocks, hijacking the street’s kerbside lanes for walkers. Let’s be honest – it’s a dishevelled farcical mess.  

AT’s mangling of Queen Street is representative of their wider impact on the city’s roading network. AT is turning Auckland roads into an ever-growing and never-ending construction site. The city is the obstacle course from hell.

And isn’t that the problem? Why can’t AT finish a project, get the job done before they unleash fresh and far-reaching upheaval somewhere else, even right next door?

There’s already a colossal cluster looming for Queen Street traffic very shortly, with the closure of Victoria Street for the CRL.

Surely AT can hold its horses, and stop messing around with Queen Street anymore, until some of their other major disruptive works have actually been completed. Commuters, retailers, shoppers and businesses are under the pump, constantly wrestling with road closures, diversions and AT-inflicted gridlock. 

Give the city a break.