The NZTA have announced that next year they will be starting construction on grade separating the intersection of SH20A and Kirkbride Rd and bringing SH20A up to full motorway standard. The project was announced last year as part of the governments Accelerated Roads Package which is seeing them pump $800 million into making bigger motorways. For those that don’t know the area well the intersection being grade separated is below. The NZTA don’t explicitly say however the intersection of SH20A with Montgomerie Rd will be closed as part of the motorwayification of the road.
This specific project is costing $140 million and it appears the NZTA have let their most mono-modal engineers loose in the asylum to design it.
Key features of the project include the construction of a trench that will carry SH20A – the main road link to and from Auckland Airport – under Kirkbride Road, new facilities on local roads for walkers and cyclists, and the provision for future bus shoulders on the state highway.
Mr Gliddon says keeping Kirkbride Road at its present level and sending motorway traffic underneath will improve local connections and safety for people on either side of the current intersection.
“Separating the two roads means children will no longer have to cross a busy state highway to get to and from school,” he says. “The airport’s also expected to become a lot busier in the future and separating SH20A from Kirkbride will help manage that.”
The SH20A to Airport project is one of four transport programmes that are being accelerated by the Government to help manage the projected growth in population, jobs, and freight in Auckland. The others are the East West Connection on the north side of Manukau Harbour, and improvements to the Northern and Southern Corridors along State Highway 1.
Construction is due to start in 2015. To minimise disruption to people, it is timed to coincide with work to construct Watercare’s Hunua 4 pipeline across the Kirkbride Road intersection.
Mr Gliddon says that in addition to next month’s public information days, community newsletters and a project website will be used to help keep people informed of what is happening.
”We are committed to working with the community and keeping them up to date with what is going on,” Mr Gliddon says.
Here are some of the issues I have with this
- Despite Kirkbride Rd being only a single lane to the east of the intersection it seems like the engineers plan to monstrously oversize the interchange with it being six lanes wide in a bid to cater for almost every kind of movement in it’s own lane. On top of that the very suggestion of making it easier for kids to walk to school is plan and simple BS. Every corner of the intersection has slip lanes for cars and trucks to hurtle through which is hardly the place we’d want kids crossing the road or riding their bike. On the NZTA page for the project they even try to claim that this will reconnect the currently severed community – it will do nothing of the sort.
- The NZTA say they are designing the project so that it only has the provision for bus shoulders some time in the future. Why not at the very least build those bus shoulders at the same time.
- Cyclists are being kicked off SH20A which is probably a good thing seeing as it’s already a very high speed road but are being dumped on to the local road network instead with no indication that those local roads will be upgraded (other than the diagram below which shows that at least one section of Kirkbride Rd (presumably between SH20A and Ascot Rd) will have both shared paths and on road cycle lanes although the on road lanes also don’t appear to be protected.
- One area that the NZTA suggest a lot of effort will be put is in the landscaping around the road to make it more welcoming for visitors. What’s the bet that they will probably spend more on landscaping than they do on other transport modes?
- The big elephant in the room of course is the question around Airport rail. Auckland Transport have yet to even release a rough route despite work on the project happening as long as 3.5 years ago (I understand they do have one planned/agreed on though). If the NZTA were truly muilti-modal like they try and claim they would at the least be building the project like the Maioro St interchange which has an extra span so rail can be added later easily.
According to the Herald, the NZTA are predicting 140,000 vehicles a day using the road by 2041. That figure seems insanely high so to put that figure perspective there are currently about 40,000 vehicles per day using the state highway to get to/from the airport. There are also approximately another 18,000 vehicles per day on Kirkbride Rd. The only sections of state highway that carry more than 140,000 vehicles as day is on SH1 between the Mt Wellington and Grafton and again between St Mary’s Bay and Onewa Rd. All of those sections need vast expanses of asphalt to move that number of vehicles so having 140k trips a day on a four lane motorway seems like a recipe for congestion.
Overall while I can accept some of the need for the project it ends up feeling just like it’s spending $140 million of to remove a set of traffic lights (maybe two if you include Montgomerie Rd) and not really getting much in return.
If you want to find out more about the project the NZTA is holding some open days in a few weeks.
- Saturday 11 October: Mangere Markets, Mangere Town Centre (7am-2pm)
- Monday 13 October: Mangere Central Community Centre, 241 Kirkbride Road (3pm-7pm)
- Wednesday 15 October: Mangere Central Community Centre, 241 Kirkbride Road (3pm-7pm)
- Saturday 18 October: Sudima Hotel Auckland Airport, 18 Airpark Drive, Airport Oaks (11am-3pm)