For a Better Brisbane

Postscript: Auckland, City of Cars

This is a short clip (3:07 min) from the NZ Television Archive describing the construction of the Auckland motorway system. Brisbane had a similar motorway plan in the 1960’s done by the American consulting engineering firm Wilbur Smith, which recommended closure of the tram system, and eventually led to the construction of the Riverside Expressway, Centenary motorway and South East Freeways.

A second expressway for Brisbane was called for, similar in design to the current Riverside Expressway spanning from where the Story Bridge and Ivory Street tunnel is, right across Eagle Street riverwalk and where the riverside restaurants are today. The New Farm Powerhouse would also have been demolished as it was in the path of a freeway artery.

Motorway construction will always be hotly debated. In his recent book, Transport for Suburbia, Dr Paul Mees describes how density measures were misused, describing how the Auckland Technical Committee at the time allegedly ‘sifted’ a table of city densities, deleting anomalous cities, to show a table of city densities with Auckland having a lower density than it actually had.

The density argument appears in many debates about public transport provision (or rather, how city X is not dense enough for upgraded public transport). It will appear again in the next Monday Movie.

This is not to say that higher densities and transit-oriented developments (TODs) won’t improve transport patronage. On the contrary, it makes sense to have higher density around transport nodes to improve public transport. The point is that funding and improvements must also follow for it to work.* If it does not follow, it is entirely possible to have a comparatively high density city like LA or Auckland, and poor public transport mode share.

By way of analogy, baking a cake with only flour won’t work- one needs all the ingredients, including the flour, to be present for it to work.

Enjoy the clip and see how it all began for Auckland.

*Note: This post was written before the announcement of the Connecting SEQ 2031 document. The Connecting SEQ 2031 document represents a landmark in SEQ planning, and will feature on this blog in due course.


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September 2, 2010 at 12:53 am

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  1. OMG!!! the very same reasoning re traffic patterns has been peddled by Campbell Newman to argue that Brisbane should continue building the Wilbur Smith plan some 40 years after originally conceived.


    September 6, 2010 at 9:17 pm

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