Cash-hungry Auckland Council leaders are eyeing a proposal to replace the complex Dominion Rd interchange with traffic lights to free valuable land for housing and commercial development.
Mayor Len Brown has indicated interest in what Auckland Transport makes of the proposal, which Albert-Eden Local Board member Graeme Easte says offers better connections between neighbourhoods of Kingsland and Eden Terrace severed when the three-level interchange opened in 1968.
Ward councillors Cathy Casey and Christine Fletcher are applauding his idea, as is council urban design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid, who calls the interchange "one of those eyesores designed when traffic engineers only saw their customer as a car".
Mr Easte, who has persuaded his board to promote the proposal, expects dismantling the interchange and its four traffic ramps - including the sweeping 277m one-way flyover to New North Rd - to more than pay for itself.
Not only could at least $20 million be raised from selling 2ha of council land for mixed residential and commercial development, but that much again could be saved by not having to build a large road bridge over the southern end of the $2.4 billion City Rail Link in nearby Porters Ave.
That is because motorists travelling between Kingsland and Eden Terrace would no longer have to go via Porters Ave or George St, over rail crossings which could be closed.
Mr Easte believes the extra movements allowed through a conventional intersection would compensate motorists for having to wait at traffic lights.
Although he has no estimate of costs, he believes they could be minimised by keeping retaining walls intact while filling in the two underpasses.
He suggests using the smaller underpass while filling in the larger structure through which New North Rd passes beneath Dominion Rd.
Dominion Rd once ended at a T-junction with New North Rd packed with shops, before the underpass displaced it, and the link route now known as Ian McKinnon Drive was built to Newton Rd.
Although Mr Easte says Auckland Transport initially indicated it had no budget to assess the proposal, the council body has told the Herald it is arranging a meeting with him over it. A mayoral spokesman said Mr Brown "looks forward to the outcome of the meeting".
The interchange was described in a newspaper in 1969 as an elaborate example of the type of intersection that would become increasingly common in Auckland.
But Mr Campbell-Reid said that implied "a degree of cleverness and smartness".
"It's overly complicated and unintuitive, and that whole journey is a disgrace."
Dr Casey called the interchange "an ugly concrete mass and mess" which she did not enjoy cycling under each day, and Mrs Fletcher praised Mr Easte for coming up with a "very creative" way of rationalising space while potentially saving the council money.