The Kaiapoi Town Centre Plan was published in 2011 by the Waimakariri District Council (WDC). This plan was developed by WDC staff and a consultant team including ViaStrada. The plan built on the Kaiapoi Town Centre Revitalisation Plan that had been under development since 2008 and responded to the restoration and development requirements of the town centre following the Canterbury earthquake in September 2010. The Plan considered Kaiapoi town centre as it stood then, identified issues that needed to be addressed and set out a vision for the future. It outlined a number of projects that would help achieve the vision and shape the future of the town centre. One of the key implementation projects identified in the Plan was an Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) for the town centre. ViaStrada was commissioned to prepare the ITP.
The ITP included:
Intersection improvements: Assessed the current roundabouts and identifying alternative options.
Streetscape improvements: In line with objectives identified in previous planning, it was proposed that as Kaiapoi's main street, Williams Street should provide for movement of people and goods by all modes while helping to create a sense of place appropriate to a successful and economically vibrant river town.
Parking proposals: The parking within in the town centre was reviewed in the ITP and recommendations included better signage, changes to time restrictions, provision of on-street angle parking on the quiet streets near the river.
Development of the ITP was informed by input from a community Reference Group and technical assessments.
Traffic modelling concluded that roundabouts and traffic signals would both perform adequately. Accordingly, concept designs were produced and rough order costs developed for these intersection forms. The report indicated that the overall project objectives would be more easily achieved with roundabouts. Textured corner aprons were proposed to enable heavy vehicle turns while controlling speeds for other motor vehicles, thus improving safety. Improved pedestrian facilities and traffic calming would support street activity, while the roundabouts could feature urban design elements to create gateways to the Kaiapoi town centre. The proposed new roundabouts were estimated to cost about half of what traffic signals would, and would also have lower operational costs.
Williams Street design
Establishing a design for Williams Street required careful balancing of the anticipated KTC Plan transport outcomes. This is because Williams Street is an arterial road (hence has a high traffic volume) yet is also a town centre main street (servicing the local and wider community). Three key decisions were required in the design process:
- How can the intersections effectively cater for heavy vehicles without compromising other road users?
- Where and how should pedestrians cross Williams Street?
- How should the space available in the 20 m wide road reserve be allocated amongst pedestrians, cyclists, parked vehicles and moving vehicles?
It was concluded from the intersection options assessment that the existing roundabouts on Williams Street at Hilton and Charles streets be replaced with new improved roundabouts. The existing courtesy pedestrian crossings at the roundabouts will be relocated to suit the new intersection designs and align better with pedestrian desire lines. As the Hilton Street intersection is critical in terms of heavy vehicle movements the improved design was tested at Wigram Airfield and it successfully catered for the required movements.
It was concluded from a pedestrian survey, previous studies and the Reference Group workshops that Williams Street required seven fixed pedestrian crossing points, there are currently five. Two of the proposed crossings will be zebra crossings (between Hilton Street and Raven Quay) and the remainder will be courtesy crossings.
It was concluded that provision of on-street parking should remain on Williams Street however the space required for parking could be rationalised. The width of the parking lane is reduced from 2.5 m to 2 m as this is a more efficient use of space and promotes better parking discipline. The length of each space is increased from 6 m to 6.5 m to improve access to the parallel parking spaces.
The space allocated for footpaths, how cyclists are accommodated and whether the pedestrian crossings are one or two stage crossings were aspects that required further consideration and as such four options were developed for Williams Street. The majority of the Reference Group preferred Option 1. The Technical Team also supported Option 1 in terms of achieving the best balance between the desired transport outcomes. The preferred option was:
- Generally 3.2 m wide footpaths but with wider footpath areas created near intersections to allow space for pedestrians, landscaping and seating; two 3 m wide traffic lanes with a 1.8 m wide space for cyclists located next to each traffic lane (this could be marked as a cycle lane), and two stage (median divided) pedestrian crossings.
The Option 1 design has created 720 m2 of additional amenity space (for footpaths, landscaping and street furniture), predominantly at the intersections and pedestrian crossings, this will provide a significant improvement to the town centre environment. Pedestrians will have more choice of places to cross the road and the design of crossings minimise traffic delay.
On-street parking supply on Williams Street is reduced but the spaces are more accessible.
A plan illustrating Option 1 is included below.