The City Rail Link (CRL) project has launched the next phase of Aotea station construction progress with a traffic ‘switch’ involving two Auckland central city intersections.
In late June, the project and Auckland Transport re-opened the Wellesley Street West intersection with Albert Street to all through traffic. Two days later traffic at the nearby Victoria Street and Albert Street intersection closed to through traffic for two years until it reopens in 2023.
Both intersections will remain open for business and to pedestrians, but the necessary changes will have a significant impact on people using public transport, and drivers and riders.
The Crowne Plaza service lane below Albert Street will stay open from Victoria Street, allowing essential vehicles to access businesses in the area.
“While the intersection switch is necessary to build the station, we’re committed to keeping central Auckland moving,” says CRL chief executive, Dr Sean Sweeney. “Shops, cafes and restaurants and other businesses and offices in the area will stay open throughout construction and will always be accessible by foot.”
CRL’s main contractor, the Link Alliance, has a comprehensive development response programme planned to support the project’s neighbours through the closure period. It includes a business support programme and a range of activations and events in the area. The area will be kept tidy and well lit, and there will be wayfinding to help people safely find their way.
The changes to the intersections are part of project’s planned programme of works. CRL closed Wellesley Street West to traffic in March 2020, to move underground utilities. The focus now moves north to the Victoria and Albert Street intersection. Underground utilities that need to be relocated include a steel gas pipe that feeds most of the city centre as well as power, water supply and telecommunication services.
“When we finish building our world class rail system for Auckland, the benefits will be huge – CRL will double the number of people within 30 minutes of travel of the central city, New Zealand’s largest employment hub,” Dr Sweeney says.
Auckland Transport (AT) is making changes to 35 bus routes that travel into the city centre. All services currently using the Victoria Street will be re-routed. AT’s Executive Manager of Integrated Networks, Mark Lambert, says the return of buses to Wellesley Street will benefit passengers.
“When Wellesley Street reopens, there will be increased bus priority to cater for up to 150 buses an hour at peak times. This will mean quicker travel times for the 30,000 passengers who travel into the city centre each day,” Lambert says.
Auckland Transport’s website has details to help people plan their journey, no matter how they travel. People should be mindful that using public transport, walking or cycling may be a more convenient travel option than using a car to get to the midtown area.
While general traffic can use the re-opened Wellesley Street intersection between Albert Street and Queen Street eastbound, access westbound is restricted only to buses and heavy vehicles. Mayoral Drive is the best option for general traffic to travel across the city centre.
“That support plays an important part in the progress we continue to make,” Sweeney says. “Relocating services is one example of the huge scale and complexity of construction New Zealanders have probably not seen in a city centre before.”
Aotea will become the country’s busiest railway station when CRL opens. Together with the Wellesley Street bus corridor, it will become a key transport hub helping drive residential, business and leisure-based redevelopment of Auckland’s midtown.
For more information on CRL visit CityRailLink.co.nz.