An artist's impression of the new-look Manners Mall
Over the next few weeks, you'll see new stormwater drains being laid across the mall at various points. We'll then build the new two-way bus-only roadway, create wide paved footpaths on either side, install trolley bus poles and plant some trees.
There will be considerable activity in the mall, and Willis and Manners streets, over the next few months as changes are made that will enable buses to travel in both directions from the railway station to Courtenay Place through Lambton Quay, Willis Street and Manners Street.
The changes will not only provide a shorter and simpler bus route through town - restoring the route trams and buses used before Manners Mall was created in the late 1970s - but will also allow us to improve areas where buses travel now.
We expect work in the mall to be complete by late September, and buses to be using the new route before Christmas. Work on the new shared space in lower Cuba Street, where pedestrians will have priority, is planned to start early next year once the new route is operational. This will improve pedestrian links from Cuba Mall to Civic Square and the waterfront.
Manners Street will continue to be a major pedestrian thoroughfare with wide paved footpaths on either side.
Council Infrastructure Director, Stavros Michael, says the changes will create a public transport spine through the city. This could potentially be used at some stage in the future for a more modern form of bus or light rail.
"These are big changes that will take some getting used to but we believe they will further improve the city and the way people get around it," he says. "Transport experts and bus operators agree that replacing the current split bus route - with all its twists and turns - is a necessary step if we want to help future-proof the city and further improve our already well-patronised public transport system.
The Environment Court has also considered the project in detail and ruled that the advantages outweigh any disadvantages."
Work is under way in Willis Street and at the Courtenay Place/Taranaki Street intersection. The work at Courtenay Place and Taranaki Street includes changes at the end of Te Aro Park to allow buses to travel two ways on Manners Street, and some safety improvements. More pedestrians have been hit here than anywhere else in the city and we are modifying the intersection and the way it is currently used, to make it safer. In Willis Street we've removed the central island near Mercer Street so buses can travel in both directions. We'll also be widening the road slightly between Mercer and Manners streets.
Our contractor, Downer, will be doing everything possible to minimise disruption. Work in the mall will be done in sections to ensure that people can still walk through and get to the shops, food outlets and businesses. Please take extra care wherever work is going on.