29 Apr 2015

Residents unhappy with road plans

7:05 am on 29 April 2015

Increased traffic congestion and major safety issues are among the concerns Christchurch residents have about multimillion-dollar roading proposals.

The New Zealand Transport Agency and Christchurch City Council want to extend the northern motorway and upgrade an already busy road leading from the north into the central city.

The proposal is proving as controversial as when it was first created in the 1960s.

Under the plan, a stretch of Cranford St would be widened to four lanes and an extension to the northern arterial would be built through the suburbs of Mairehau and St Albans.

The aim is to increase capacity and reduce congestion caused by city-bound commuters from the ever-expanding Waimakariri district.

Almost 70 percent of public submissions opposed the changes.

Features of Northern Corridor projects

  • A new roundabout connecting the extension to Cranford St
  • The removal of on-street parking and the relocation of bus stops
  • A raised central median on Cranford St through to Innes Rd
  • A pedestrian and cycling overbridge at the southern end of the extension.

St Albans resident Jane Murray told a panel of independent commissioners that, as things are now, if her daughter slipped and fell on Cranford St she would fall onto the footpath but if the changes went ahead it would be a different story.

"If we were trying to convince her to ride and bike ... and she [skidded on wet leaves], if she did that on Cranford St, she'd be dead."

Dirk De Lu of cycling advocacy group Spokes Canterbury used a phrase from the city council's draft long-term plan to criticise the project.

"'Increasing capacity to accommodate increased traffic volumes is not desirable because it's expensive, resource-intensive and encourages further traffic growth, creating more capacity problems in the long term'. And I think that pretty much sums up this project - it's a problem, it's not a solution to a problem."

Cranford St resident John Allen said he was unhappy with the consultation process and urged the commissioners to prevent the plan going ahead.

"To say the public has been informed is insulting." said Mr Allen.

"You're still using 1960s motorway thinking for a 21st century problem.

"It's a disaster waiting to happen. You're not to going to improve the flow times. You're reducing the bottleneck from [the] Waimak bridge to outside my house."

A 2012 research paper, commissioned by the New Zealand Transport Agency, ranked the proposal a 'C' for sustainability and future-proofing.

This fact was raised in a letter from a concerned resident to the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges.

The minister's response to the letter, received under the Official Information Act, said the changes were now urgent because of growth in the north since the quakes.