Beaumont residents say traffic worse

By Andre Hueber

People living in Beaumont Quarter, on the north side of Victoria Park in the central city, say traffic near their homes has become unmanageable.

"The council wants people to live and work in the city," says complex manager for the Beaumont Quarter residents society Ulf Behncke. "We've done what they've asked - cut back on cars and journeys - but they're making it difficult. It seems they're set on making life easier for commuters at our expense."

Beaumont St is one of the main feeder streets - with Fanshawe and Curran streets - to SH1 and Auckland Harbour bridge, but has carried extra traffic since the closure of the Wellington St motorway on-ramp.

Mr Behncke says the impact of that closure gridlocks the road more often, with cars backed up past Victoria Park Markets earlier in the afternoon, and for longer. He says he's been told the on-ramp is not likely to reopen because the motorway must flow and restoring the on-ramp would slow things down.

"But cars have to enter the system somewhere. Isn't it easier to spread the load than put them all on one or two on-ramps?"

A NZ Transport Agency spokesperson says the agency is reviewing the effects of the Wellington St closure until July. "As part of that review, the NZTA and Auckland Transport will seek to understand the local impacts and investigate ways in which these impacts could be managed if the review recommends restricting access to the Wellington St on-ramp."

No decision will be made without letting all parties have their say.

Mr Behncke says the Victoria Park tunnel has been fully operational since March and asks why any review should take three months. "NZTA has installed traffic lights at the on-ramp, shut it down, opened it up, then shut it down again. Now they're playing with the idea it'll never open up.

"The question should be asked: how much money did we waste?"

The new motorway layout in the area now forbids vehicles turning right from Beaumont St into Fanshawe St or from the east side of Beaumont St (Wynyard Quarter) north on to SH1.

"I assume their logic is that one green phase moves all the traffic, because if you have a right-hand turn from Wynyard to the motorway, you'd have to increase the length of stopping time on Fanshawe St. But why make one road flow at the expense of another?"

The Aucklander witnessed numerous vehicles performing illegal u-turns on Beaumont St, with cars coming from Wynyard Quarter, through the lights then turning to head north across the bridge.

Auckland Transport says from the national agency's perspective the network is operating well and Fanshawe St is operating better than before the closure of Wellington St. It says it is aware of people doing u-turns and will install no u-turn signs on Beaumont St.

The 500 residents are also unhappy about the lack of parking spaces on Beaumont St. Mr Behncke says Auckland Transport told the society a carpark beside the skatepark would be open by March 30, yet it has remained closed.

But a proposed Quest hotel and apartment block at 80 Beaumont St, with only two on-site carparks, is the final straw.

"Adding a hotel to one of the busiest motorway on-ramps will impact on traffic flows at peak times. People will have to park their cars somewhere. Added to that will be the movement of taxis, shuttle buses and service vehicles."

He says that problem will be inflamed by the reintroduction of temporary bus stops beside the skatepark. Buses park in these 'layover lanes' in off-peak hours and move off before the peak. Mr Behncke says while the tunnel was being built buses parked at Wynyard Quarter and he can't understand why the lanes are being brought back as they add to daytime congestion.

Auckland Transport says bus parking provisions have been reviewed and reduced at the northeast end of Beaumont Street adjacent to the skate park. It says its parking and design team is reviewing parking in the area.

Auckland Council says its hearings committee will decide this week about whether to notify the resource consent application for the Quest Hotel.

Mr Behncke says construction on Victoria Park tunnel, Victoria Park Markets, the Rob Roy Hotel, the Campbell Free Kindergarten, the skatepark and Victory Church has caused considerable disruption, and residents in the area have been largely forgotten.

"We've spent all this money making this a really sharp neighbourhood but we haven't taken into account neighbouring streets. It's a piecemeal approach."

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- The Aucklander

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