Pedestrians get the works

By Mathew Dearnaley

A busy section of Queen St in Auckland will be closed to traffic this weekend as council contractors install the first of three new pedestrian crossings as part of a $41 million upgrade.

The block between Wellesley and Victoria Sts will be closed until 6am on Monday.

That means some buses beginning scheduled services at Britomart or Victoria St East will be diverted from their normal routes, via Albert St, although their departure points will remain unaltered through the weekend.

The street closure is to allow contractors to raise the road surface at the site of a new controlled pedestrian crossing outside the Mid-City Centre.

Auckland City Council special projects group manager Jo Wiggins said it would be one of three mid-block crossings aimed at making the main street more pedestrian-friendly.

Other crossings would be constructed further down Queen St - one just south of Durham St and the other just north of Fort St - and all three would be controlled by traffic lights.

Ms Wiggins said the three sites had been identified as black spots where jay-walking pedestrians were at greatest risk of being knocked down by traffic.

The council intends raising the road surface slightly at the three crossings, but not so high as to obstruct buses.

Ms Wiggins also disclosed a proposal, due to be recommended to a council committee in August, for 24-hour bus lanes to be extended along each side of Queen St.

The council will also start work on Monday on a 500m extension to a city-bound bus lane along Quay St.

That is aimed at clearing bottlenecks where an existing priority lane from The Strand runs out at Tangihua St.

Auckland Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt welcomed both sets of improvements, but said it was a pity the council had no apparent plans to provide better shelters and landscaping for bus passengers around the Britomart terminal, which he described yesterday as cold and uninviting.

* Buses will replace trains along the southern railway line over the weekend between Papakura and Papatoetoe to allow major track replacement and improvement work.

* Rail agency Ontrack will hold a public information session with Auckland City and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority from 10am to 3pm today over plans to move the Avondale railway station further west to allow room for longer train platforms.

Officials will be available to discuss the plans at the Deaf Foundation Hall, at 1836-1848 Great North Rd, Avondale.

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