Residents voice views on downstream traffic plans

Have your say: the draft Christchurch Northern Corridor (CNC) Downstream Effects Management Plan is open for public feedback. As a condition of the project’s consent, this plan is required before the CNC opens. The plan “recommends a programme of work to reduce the downstream effects of the CNC”, however not everyone is a fan. There is a ‘Can the Plan’ campaign underway in the local community, as can be seen on the front page of the latest St Albans News:

Can the Plan STAN p1
Image credit: St Albans News, April/May 2019

What’s in the plan?

The CNC is expected to open in late 2020. The draft management plan proposes three delivery stages for mitigation work:

  • Stage 1: Projects proposed before the CNC opens in 2020
  • Stage 2: Project proposed within three years of the CNC opening
  • Stage 3: Projects proposed to be delivered any time between the opening of the CNC and 2031

Details of these projects can be found in the Downstream Effects Management Plan (DEMP) [14MB PDF], and they are summarised online and in the Council’s consultation document. This article does not comprehensively cover the proposed work but goes highlight some aspects – please see the official documents for more information.

Stage 1

Stage 1 upgrades are ones “that need to be in place before the CNC is opened, to address severe traffic congestion and excessive rat-running in local streets”. Proposed projects include:

  • Major road upgrades, including Cranford Street clearways (from Berwick Street north), intersection upgrades, and also ‘South Berwick upgrades’ (see below).
  • Investigating High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Cranford/Sherborne Streets.
  • Nine 30km/h or 40km/h reduced speed limit areas
  • Traffic calming measures on specific streets
  • See the official documents for a complete list

South Berwick upgrades

Stage 1 includes both a scoping study and also delivery of an upgrade for traffic south of Berwick Street. The current consultation document contains almost no information on this, but it does appear to be one of the highest-stake decisions yet to be made. Nine options are described in the DEMP (p.27-34), with three highest ranking ones to be progressed to the scoping study. These are:

  • Increasing capacity on Barbadoes St and Madras/Forfar St using clearways (option 3a), or
  • Increasing capacity on Barbadoes St and Madras/Forfar St by extending the one-way system all the way up to Warrington St (option 3c), or
  • Increasing capacity on Cranford/Sherborne St using clearways (option 4a)

Two of these options will direct CNC traffic along Barbadoes/Madras/Forfar, while the other will direct it along Cranford/Sherborne. (Other options such as permanent three-laning of Barbadoes/Madras/Forfar or permanent four-laning of Cranford/Sherborne are included in the DEMP but are not proposed to be further investigated.)

Stage1-diagram detail
DEMP stage 1 projects (detail)

In conversation at one of the drop-in DEMP consultation meetings, I asked the plan’s author Dr Shane Turner why the current consultation document doesn’t include more detail on the ‘South Berwick’ options, as this seems like an ideal time to get feedback from the community. (To be fair to Dr Turner, he is independent of Council so is not responsible for the scope & content of the consultation document.)

Dr Turner told me that the South Berwick scoping study would take place during 2019, and that there would likely be specific public consultation late this year or early in 2020. Apparently the work required to implement any of the three options is relatively minor (it mainly relates to signage and road markings, rather than major roadworks), however the decision itself will have a significant impact on the community.

Future stages

Stage 2 upgrades are “those improvements that will reduce other traffic effects of the CNC opening traffic flows, including additional traffic calming schemes, safe cycling, and safe access to schools, parks, and commercial areas”.

Stage 3 upgrades are “those improvements that the modelling indicates will be required between 2021 and 2031. This includes traffic calming and some additional safe cycling improvements”.

See the official documents for details of stages 2 and 3.

What about increasing public transport usage, or other measures to reduce single-occupant car traffic?

At the 14 February Council meeting, Richard Osborne (Council Head of Transport) stated that the scope of the DEMP and associated consultation was in accordance with the project’s designation conditions – it is not looking at wider issues such as strategies to reduce travel demand or increase public transport use.

Mr Osborne assured the community that wider issues are being considered through other workstreams. Apparently a programme steering group has been established, led by NZTA, to bring four workstreams together (the DEMP plus three other projects: High Occupancy Vehicles; a sub-regional Urban Development Strategy business case around travel demand management; and a Public Transport Futures business case).

Mayor Lianne Dalziel noted at the meeting that NZTA & CCC material relating to the CNC and the other workstreams don’t link well online, and there is a need for more joined-up communication for the public. At the time of writing this article however there appears to have been no action on this.

What positive benefits will the CNC bring?

The CNC project website lists a number of outcomes, including: reduced commuter travel time; reduced congestion; improved safety; and more. I’m currently researching the project’s benefits and will write more about this in a future article.

How to have your say

The City Council’s consultation on the DEMP is open until 5pm on Monday 15 April 2019. See the ‘have your say’ section of the Council’s website, or look for material in your local library or Council service centre.

Outside the Council’s process, on Thursday 28 March at 6:30pm there will be an independent community-initiated meeting at the Scottish Society Hall to discuss the DEMP. See the Facebook event for details.

Questions for readers

Do you want to ‘dump the DEMP’? Have you, or will you, give feedback to Council on the draft plan? Why or why not?