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$26m plan to sidestep traffic chaos
Wednesday December 6, 2006
By Bernard Orsman

Transport will be a mess around Eden Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup unless Auckland City ratepayers stump up $26 million for a pedestrian concourse linking the sports ground with Kingsland, say transport experts.

Sandringham Rd will be crowded with pedestrians, catching trains will be difficult and some bus services will have a 3.4km detour without the concourse, the resource consent hearing for the park upgrade heard yesterday.

Eden Park transport consultant Graeme Steverson said one of the keys for the upgrade was the $26 million pedestrian concourse to allow an efficient flow of rail passengers to and from the ground.

The project involves a 25m-wide concourse over Kingsland railway station with four sets of stairs on either side to the platforms below.

A 10m-wide overbridge would run from the end of the concourse over Sandringham and Walters Rds to the northeast entrance to Eden Park.

The concourse would be linked to Kingsland at an existing plaza off New North Rd and by demolishing a building for a second link.

Various submitters for the Eden Park Trust Board have said the $26 million was an Auckland City Council project.

Board chief executive John Alexander yesterday admitted that the council had only promised to "lead" the project and how it was to be funded and designed would be subject to a public process.

Some Auckland City ratepayers are angry at the assumption that the council had taken "ownership" of the project when, in fact, no decisions have been made.

The $26 million cost is also outside the $385 million upgrade of Eden Park. The board believes it has about $160 million of funding lined up but faces a $225 million shortfall it wants the Government and Auckland ratepayers to meet.

Auckland City transport general manager Stephen Rainbow said the council was considering a number of options for the connection between Kingsland and the park based on what resource consent conditions emerged from the hearings.

Sydney-based Mr Steverson, who has been involved with transport planning for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Melbourne's 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said Eden Park had the ability to increase public transport from 40 per cent at last year's Lions rugby tour to 74 per cent. The "minimum" goal for the 2011 Rugby World Cup was 55 per cent.

That would involve about 15,000 of a capacity crowd of 60,000 travelling by train - double the current capacity of Kingsland station - and another 18,000 by bus and coach. On match nights, trains would head back to Britomart on both platforms.

Kingsland would cater for about 13,000 passengers, leaving an upgraded Morningside station to carry a further 2000 in a westerly direction.

Mr Steverson said without the concourse the number of people who could use public transport to Eden Park for the cup would be 50 per cent and, in the long-term, no greater than 56 per cent.

The transport plan involved closing Sandringham Rd from New North Rd to Balmoral Rd to traffic other than buses and permit-holders for cup matches.

The proposed concourse would reduce the number of pedestrians using Sandringham Rd, allowing buses and more than 200 coaches an easy path to and from the ground.

A bus terminal, with 18 stops, would be built at the Sandringham Rd "front door" to the stadium and there would be a further 10 stops for coaches opposite the ground on Sandringham Rd.

Another transport planner, Stephen Reddish, said the number of Eden Park carparks would be reduced from 917 to 630, and 510 on games days.

Taxis would predominantly be confined a short walk away to Dominion and New North Rds, and the park itself 45 minutes to one hour after a game.


Consent hearing

* The Eden Park Trust Board is applying for resource consent for a $320 million option to upgrade the park.

* The board is expected to modify its resource consent for a bigger $385m upgrade.

* The hearing is before three independent commissioners.

* The board is due to finish presenting its case tomorrow.

Some of the 502 submitters will present their views after that.