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Albany Highway upgrade to start later this year

Auckland Transport have announced that they will spend $58 million to widen a 4km section of Albany Highway starting in September. The road is an interesting one in that some parts look like a typical suburban street while other parts don’t appear to have really changed since the road was a state highway. Here’s the press release:

Auckland Transport’s greatly anticipated upgrade of the northern section of Albany Highway is expected to begin this September.

The $58 million construction of the Albany Highway North upgrade involves widening a 4km stretch of the highway between Schnapper Rock Road and the Albany Expressway to accommodate four lanes of traffic and separated cycling and walking paths. The main aims are to cater for traffic growth, reduce congestion, improve safety for all road users and encourage alternative modes of transport, such as bus travel, cycling and carpooling.

About 15,000 vehicles, as well as cyclists and pedestrians, use Albany Highway every day, and it also serves the North Harbour industrial estate, five schools, Massey University and a cluster of residential estates.

The announcement is welcomed by the Upper Harbour Local Board, which says many locals are looking forward to the benefits the completed upgrade will bring to those living, working and commuting in the area.

“The local community – and in particular its 5,000 school students – can only benefit from improvements aimed at delivering safer and quicker travel options as this area of Auckland continues to grow,” says board chairman Brian Neeson.

The NZ Transport Agency is funding 53 per cent of the upgrade, which together with the agency’s current project to upgrade SH1 between Upper Harbour Highway and Greville Road, is part of a wider strategy to improve transport links on the North Shore.

The Transport Agency’s Regional Manager of Planning and Investment, Peter Casey, says: “This is a priority investment for the Transport Agency to help ease congestion and provide more reliable journey times for people in a very busy and growing part of Auckland”.

Features of the Albany Highway North Upgrade:

  • Four traffic lanes (with two general traffic and T3 transit lanes)
  • Signalisation of three major intersections (currently roundabouts) at Rosedale Road, Bass Road and Wharf Road
  • Signalised pedestrian crossings and wider footpaths
  • Dedicated cycle paths and footpaths, or shared paths where there is insufficient space
  • Stormwater improvements to reduce pollution from the road flowing into local streams
  • Relocation and undergrounding of main utility services (gas, water, telephone and electricity)
  • Construction of a new four-lane bridge over the Oteha Stream (Days Bridge)
  • Street lighting upgrade using energy-efficient LED lanterns
  • New bus stops with shelters

The upgrade is expected to start in September, once the worst of the winter weather is over, and take about two and a half years to complete.

For more detailed information on the Albany Highway North Upgrade, visit www.at.govt.nz/albanyhighway

The section that’s being upgraded is in red below

Albany Hwy Upgrade route

Like so many projects this one seems to have some really good aspects and some not so good aspects. One one hand $58 million is a lot of money to be spending on road widening, especially seeing as the NZTA is currently in the process of widening the motorway northbound between Upper Harbour Dr and Greville Rd.

On the other hand, from what I can tell it might end up being one of the closest streets we have to a complete street that caters for all users. I understand that Cycle Action Auckland have fought hard for dedicated cycling facilities which AT are saying they are providing – although only through shared paths in some places. For a busy road like this mid-block pedestrian crossings are also quite useful providing they’re frequent enough.

If we are widening roads, making the new lanes T3 right from the start is a much better idea than just creating additional general traffic lanes – providing the T3 lanes are monitored of course. This is something I think Auckland Transport should have done for the Tiverton/Wolverton upgrade too. For this particular road bus only lanes would likely have been overkill as even with the new network, there won’t be that many buses using it. An idea of what the layout will be is below:

Albany Hwy Upgrade layout

There are a number of before and after images on the AT website however they are quite small and hard to see the details of so I’ve not included them in this post.

Overall I do find the timing of this announcement quite odd as construction is still months away. We’ve seen the NZTA stealing the limelight recently with funding announcements for local road projects. Perhaps this is a case of Auckland Transport trying to announce the project before the NZTA does. Also worth noting is that this is a project we did list in the list of road projects that would still happen even if the CFN was adopted immediately.

10 comments to Albany Highway upgrade to start later this year

  • Sailor Boy

    I am glad this is going ahead. Probably doesn’t actually need the extra traffic lanes but it will be good to see segregated cycle lanes along an arterial road in quite a flat area with a lot of school kids

    • Bryce P

      Much of the traffic appears to actually be school related between 815 and 9am. Parents dropping kids off and kids driving themselves to school / uni. A case of you get what you build for. It is encouraging to see the extra lanes as T3.

      • Bryce P

        And I see we just cant bring ourselves to loose flush medians. I wonder if these are still there in the places where dedicated bike lanes are not possible? There is 2m just by itself.

        • Yes that is something I was wondering, If there isn’t the space for a dedicated cycle lane but still a full median then that’s not acceptable.

          • Max

            It’s been a long time since I saw the plan, so knock on wood they haven’t changed, but the “shared path only” sections used to be absolutely minimal – from memory, along one property purchase pinch point for maybe a dozen or so meters. As I said knock on wood, it should be fine.

  • Barney

    Kristen School creates a lot of congestion and I doubt if a students bus only option would work here as many of the students live beyond the bus routes. Maybe if parents were able to drop their children off at points around the North Shore and then bus them to school from there. Maybe Albany Village, Greenhithe village and Albany & Constellation Stations. This could work also for Albany Senior & Junior High schools as well.
    I have a young friend who drives to Massey Uni everyday from Glenfield as the bus is too expensive for his budget and the timetables to inconvenient and also the bus transfers plus the bus stops don’t connect.

  • Jacques

    They need to find a better system to police T3 lanes though, if it ends up with loads of false positives, it’s going to piss people off big time. A case of culprit unless proven innocent which is really not right. Maybe a two step process with an automatic camera taking pictures of cars that have been found be infringing by whatever system they put in place, so that these can be reviewed by a human before sending a fine?

    • Sailor Boy

      The tickets already are reviewed by the human operating the camera. The fine just needs to be higher I feel so it becomes the sort of mistake you would only ever want to make once

  • A good point regarding the Tiverton/Wolverton upgrade. Is it too late to change that? What designates a lane is, after all, only paint.

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