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Rebuilding Franklin Road from the underground up

Published: 3 July 2019

Franklin Road is famous for its Christmas lights and its London plane trees, some more than 100 years old.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says after nearly three years of utility service upgrades, repairs and streetscape construction, Franklin Road has been rebuilt from the underground up and is looking better than ever.

“Franklin Road is an important connection between Ponsonby and the city centre, with more than 14,000 vehicle trips daily. Thanks to this upgrade, it’s now a lot safer and more pleasant for everyone who walks, drives, bikes, lives, works and shops in the area.

“Before the rebuild, the road and footpath were in a terrible state. The underground infrastructure needed upgrading or replacing, stormwater got into the wastewater system, and tree roots damaged the footpaths and road creating hazards for pedestrians, drivers and people on bikes.

“At the street level, the $16 million transformation is obvious with wider, even footpaths, a new roundabout at the Wellington Street intersection and new cycleways on both sides of the road. Underground, the aged sewerage system has been replaced and new drain catch pits have been installed.”

Waitematā Local Board chair Pippa Coom says this much-needed upgrade of Franklin Road had been in the ‘too hard basket’ for many years due to the challenge and costs of accommodating the historic trees, utilities, parking and transport requirements.

”It is thanks to the persistent advocacy of Freemans Bay residents, Bike Auckland and the local board that we have a finished design that we can share in and be proud of.

“I am pleased to see raised speed tables along all the side streets, this is a pedestrian safety outcome the board had been advocating for since the beginning.”

Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison says Franklin Road is a fine example of AT working collaboratively across council teams and utility providers.

“AT took a ‘dig once’ approach, which meant engaging and planning alongside Auckland Council’s Stormwater team, Watercare, Vector and Chorus, before beginning any work.”

Consulting with the community too on the design was key to the final result. Retaining the road’s natural heritage, improving street lighting, well-defined parking spaces and improving safety for pedestrians, drivers and people on bikes, are design elements desired by the community.

“This was one of the most complex, challenging and bespoke project in terms of design and construction management. It took a considerable amount of time, but it has paid off because Franklin Road has been a huge success.”

Challenges included coordinating when the various utility crews could be on the road to carry out their service work, trying to keep at least one lane of the road open at all times, protecting the trees during construction and working in an area both residential and business. Work had to shut down in December for the annual Christmas light festival.

Mr Ellison says, “Along with AT’s project team and contractors, I want to add my appreciation for the residents and businesses of Franklin Road and surrounding streets. The Community Liaison Group did a great job helping shape the design and in providing a valuable forum for community views.” The residents have had to contend with heavy machinery, road detours, noise and everything else that comes with a complex construction programme such as this.

“It has tested their patience and we are grateful for the goodwill and support we have received over the years. We can be confident and proud that we are leaving behind an attractive, safer, and future proofed Franklin Road better than when we started.”

A civic event to mark the completion of the project was held today. The event was attended by Mayor Phil Goff and the Waitematā Local Board.

Franklin Road timeline

Public consultation and detail design – from 2014 – 2015

Stage 1 – underground service works and street lighting by Watercare, Vector and Chorus (August 2016 – October 2017)

  • New sewer lines and watermain pipes with new connections added to homes
  • Sewer separation along Collingwood Street and Franklin Road for the top section from Ponsonby Road to Wellington Street
  • Overhead power lines were placed under the ground

Stage 2 – footpath, road, parking and cycleway construction and Stormwater upgrade by AT and Auckland Council Stormwater (August 2017 – July 2019)

  • New stormwater pipeline installed between Wellington Street and Victoria Street
  • New roundabout at Wellington Street intersection. Vehicles from England Street can now exit on to Franklin Road
  • New cycleway (semi Copenhagen style) on both sides of the street
  • Footpaths were replaced. The paths have fibre reinforced concrete to keep the trees from lifting them up again
  • New raised speed tables at every side street intersection to improve the walking experience and to slow vehicle speed
  • Installation of more than 40 new catch pits to improve stormwater drainage
  • Construction of well-defined parking bays and improved tree pits
  • Upgraded street lighting with new catenary street lighting design using energy-efficient LED luminaries
  • Road rehabilitation and resurfacing

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