Auckland Mayor Len Brown wants one of the city's most historic thoroughfares, Dominion Rd, given special treatment in a rethink of controversial $100 million upgrade plans.
"I'm a bit like Don McGlashan - I see Dominion Rd as a community," he told Auckland City's transport committee, referring to the musician who immortalised the road in a song named after it.
"I think we could do something special with Dominion Rd as a great old arterial of Auckland."
Although Auckland Transport has dropped plans by the former Auckland City Council to have 24-hour bus lanes on both sides of the road, which residents and businesspeople said would have been its death knell, it still intends catering for high public transport use.
Major projects manager Rick Walden told the committee Dominion Rd would develop into a busier bus corridor than its neighbouring routes, Sandringham Rd and Mt Eden Rd, and Auckland Transport intended keeping most properties bought for the upgrade.
They were needed to provide extra width for safety and for stopping bays which would enable buses to pass each other.
Although some properties would be sold again, more acquisitions were needed, particularly in Dominion Rd's southern sector between the Mt Roskill shopping centre and State Highway 20, where there was only a small section of bus lane.
That was a serious bottleneck in morning and evening travel peaks, preventing buses from getting through congested traffic.
But Mr Walden said the $48 million budgeted for property purchases would be scaled back to about $26 million.
About $20 million has already been spent buying properties, including for abandoned bus loop proposals behind the Valley Rd and Balmoral Rd shopping centres.
There was no intention to retain properties back from Dominion Rd, and his organisation would work with the Auckland Council on what to do about them.
"We are not doing it unilaterally," he assured the committee.
That followed advice from councillor Cathy Casey that the council was keen for all titles to be assessed by its property subsidiary for the possible provision of affordable housing.
Mr Walden said all his organisation wanted from most properties was a couple of metres from their frontages. In some cases where entire properties had been bought, Auckland Transport would sell back what it didn't want.
But some committee members remained wary of the council-controlled organisation's intentions.
Council heritage forum chairwoman Sandra Coney said the viability of the village centres along the route was important.
"We want to ensure we don't transform the character of Dominion Rd," she said.
"We don't want to make everything fit for purpose for peak times but leave it lacking in character and personality and vitality the rest of the time."By Mathew Dearnaley Email Mathew