Can you please confirm the rumour that Grafton Bridge will be closed permanently during daylight hours later this year (after the local body elections) to all transport (except buses) as part of Mayor Dick Hubbard's public transport plans? What thought has the mayor given to where the thousands of vehicles that currently use the bridge will travel and the impact that this will have on already congested roads such as Khyber Pass?
R. Manley, Ponsonby
Yes, the bridge will be closed to vehicles while it is strengthened as part of the Central Connector project. Grafton Bridge will become a major part of the grandly titled Central Connector, which is a bus priority route, giving buses and cyclists a quick link from the CBD to Newmarket and back.
Car travel across the bridge will be restricted once the Central Connector is complete and it begins operating as a bus lane between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday.
There are a number of alternative routes for car travel during these times. Alternatives to the bridge will be widely publicised before the bridge is closed for strengthening work in 2008.
Now that the Government has approved the Penlink bridge on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, when can we expect the work to begin? Pete Matthews
There's a long road to go yet, Pete, if you'll pardon the pun. Finance Minister Michael Cullen has to get legislation through Parliament allowing for the regional fuel tax, Transport Minister Annette King has to submit an Order in Council allowing Penlink to be designated a toll route and Rodney District Council is yet to let the tender for a private partner to come in and build, manage and toll the route.
However, the council says that if everything falls into place, construction could start mid-2008 and be completed three years later.
Are tour buses allowed to use bus lanes in Auckland City? These are those buses licensed to carry nine or more passengers. Can they use the bus lanes loaded or otherwise?
In a word: yes. Road-user rules define buses with more than nine seating positions (including the driver's seat) as passenger service vehicles so tour buses are able to use bus lanes in Auckland City regardless of how many passengers they are carrying.
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