When thinking about the Western Ring Route the most common thought is about completing the Waterview Connection however there is also another bit part of overall project and that is widening SH16 from St Lukes all the way through to Westgate. The image below shows the planned number of lanes for this entire section.
The works from Te Atatu to St Lukes are included as part of the Waterview Connection but the other parts aren’t and recently the NZTA started construction on the Lincoln Road interchange. I think most people that have used it would probably agree that Lincoln Rd has to be one of the worst interchanges on the Auckland motorway network. The on and off ramps are generally quite tight an curvy with little space to merge, the overbridge is narrow and you would have to be pretty brave to try getting across on foot.
So here is what the NZTA have said about it.
$100 million seems like a hell of a lot of money for one interchange and a small stretch of motorway on each side. So what are we going to get for that $100 million? The most promenant thing is that they are going to widen the bridge from 2 lanes to 7. The bridge is almost exclusively for access to and from the motorway and most of that is to get to the citybound onramp so why on earth does it need 7 lanes and what are they going to do with them all?
Of the other things we will get, more bus shoulders are better than what we have now but it seems like such a wasted opportunity not to have put a proper busway in as it serves a completely different catchment to the western rail line. They will realign the ramps and probably the best thing of the project is the cycleway will be extended a further 2km. So what is the interchange going to look like and what are all those lanes for? The NZTA don’t seem to have anything in the way of maps or diagrams online but I have managed to find the NOR documents that were filed with the old Waitakere City Council. There are quite a few maps as the project actually extends from just east of the Henderson Creek to Huruhuru Rd but here is the one for the interchange itself.
So we can see that there will be three lanes heading north towards the citybound onramp and one of those is a bus /HOV lane which seems reasonable, the transport assessment indicates that there won’t be huge numbers of buses even at peak time so this should be ok. We can also see that the 4 lanes that make up the rest of the bridge are all Southbound which seems completely overkill, even though one is a turning lane. You can also see some quite big changes to 3 of the 4 ramps, removing the tight corners that currently exist.
You can also see they have highlighted all of the footpaths/cycleways in yellow which makes them much easier to see. This is definitely a lot more than there are now however I can see one big issue with this, for someone travelling along the cycleway they will have to cross 4 sets of traffic lights just to be able to carry on their journey. How much more expensive would it have been to put a bridge in while they were doing all of these works, by doing it at the same time it and being for pedestrians/cyclists only it surely wouldn’t cost that much. A bridge also wouldn’t look that out of place as the area is light industrial and the nearest houses are 150-200m away. If a bridge was to much, what about a simple underpass? again if done at the same time it shouldn’t end up costing that much more. To me it just seems like the NZTA put it in the to hard basket which is a real shame as the NW cycleway is probably the best infrastructure of its kind in the city and many of the other onramps or major roads have been bridged over to allow a continuous journey.
Lastly you can also see the existing red dotted line marking the existing motorway boundary. With the realigned ramps, particularly the Eastbound ones, I wonder if the NZTA have considered selling off the excess land after they finish as there seems like there will be quite a bit available which could be redeveloped.