NZTA on motorways solving congestion

Last week the NZTA posted this video on their YouTube channel as part of a series talking about motorway works in Christchurch.

Not sure I could have said it better myself.

A good highway upgrade

The government made two significant state highway announcements within a week. The first was the announcement of a new motorway in Tauranga which was followed last week by the announcement of a significant $278 million upgrade to the 32km of SH2 between Pokeno and Mangatarata. This project, like the Mangatawhiri Deviation completed in 2008, are examples of exactly the kind of projects I feel the government should have been focusing on for the last eight years instead of some of the massively expensive Roads of National Significance.

This project should significantly improve safety on what is one of the country’s most dangerous roads, so much so that in 2011 the NZTA even lowered the speed limit on all but the new Mangatawhiri deviation to 90km/h. According to the press release from Simon Bridges, there have been 18 fatal crashes causing 34 deaths in the last five years alone – although a quick look at the info on the NZTA website says there were 15 fatal crashes over 10 years (to 2014).

As part of this upgrade three new deviations will be built, west of Mangatawhiri, at Kopuku and at Maramarua. In addition, the road will be widened to three lanes with two of them westbound towards Auckland. They say the upgrades will be designed so that a future a fourth lane could be added if/when it’s needed. Presumably this means also widening the existing Mangatawhiri deviation which was designed with future widening in mind. The NZTA will also install other safety features such as wire rope median and side barriers.

SH2 Maramua Upgrade 1

I’ve written before about how the Mangatawhiri Deviation has been a huge success. Not only did it come in 6 months ahead of time and $2.9 million (6%) under budget. It had a significant impact on safety as this graphic shows.

Mangatawhiri Deviation Crash record

From memory this project – or at least a previous iteration of it – was meant to have been started some years ago but it was put on hold and funding for it was diverted while attention shifted to the RoNS and particularly the Waikato Expressway.

Below are the traffic volumes on the road over the last 20 years. As you can see volumes were relatively flat for much of the last 15 or so years but have picked up a little recently. The NZTA say that on some days with holiday traffic, volumes can top 25,000.

Mangatawhiri Traffic Volumes

The press release from the government is below.

The Government will invest $278 million to upgrade State Highway 2 between Pokeno and the SH25 intersection, Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced today.

Work will begin this year on the design, consents and property purchase for a long-term overhaul of the road that will be carried out in five stages over several years.

The 32 kilometre long stretch of road will be widened to three lanes, with two lanes for traffic heading west towards Auckland. The work will also be future-proofed, enabling the road to become four lanes if needed.

“These upgrades will help ease congestion and improve journey predictability, making a huge difference for the local community, the freight industry and for people travelling north after a weekend on the Coromandel,” Mr Bridges says.

Along with the extra lane, a new roundabout will be built and four interchanges separating state highway and local traffic will be constructed.

“Improving safety on this popular holiday route is a key part of this project. Over the last five years there have been 18 crashes resulting in 34 deaths and serious injuries.

“Evidence tells us the majority of crashes on this stretch of highway are either head-on or where the vehicle runs off the road so median barriers and guard rails will also be installed.

“The long term goal is to reduce death and serious injury crashes by 80 per cent over 20 years.

“We also want to provide safer choices for cyclists and ensure local people have safe access to their homes, schools and businesses,” Mr Bridges says.

Construction is expected to get underway in 2017/18.

I can’t help but think that had this approach been taken with the Puhoi to Warkworth RoNS, much of it could be in place by now and saving lives compared it being 2020 or later depending on when it finally starts construction. This is of course what was proposed with Operation Lifesaver.

 

April AT Board Meeting

Tomorrow is the next AT board meeting and as usual I’ve been through the reports to pull out the stuff I find interesting.

The closed session is where all of the really interesting stuff happens, my comments in italics.

Decisions for Approval/Decision

  • Quarterly Report
  • AMETI Delivery Strategy
  • CAP Programme Business Case – This is briefly described in the business report as

The Programme Business Case for the Central Access Plan (isthmus to city centre) has been developed jointly with NZTA and Council. A recommended integrated programme (IP) will be provided to the AT Board in April and NZTA Board for approval in May. The IP identifies a range of investments to address growing bus patronage demands against corridor / terminus capacity constraints.

  • Road Stoppings
  • Lodgement of Lincoln Rd NoR
  • Station Security & Fare Enforcement – This will likely relate to changes announced last year including changing some stations including changing access to platforms etc.
  • Integrated Fares Product, Pricing – With integrated fares only a few months away I’m sure AT are finalising the details for it now.
  • CRL Enabling Works Update
  • CRL Procurement update – AT appear to be finalising how they’ll procure the main works part of the CRL

Items for Noting

  • 2016/17 Budget
  • Deep Dive – Harbour Master
  • CRL Communications Update
  • AT Deliverables
    1. Results for Projects completed to 31 March 2016
    2. AT Deliverables – Tasks for completion by 30 June 2016

In the open session there is an item looking at the final design of the New Network on the North Shore, I’ll look at that in more detail tomorrow.

On to the main Business Report. These are listed in the order they appear in the report

From the technology team there is this about AT HOP. It’s not clear just what this entails or what parts of HOP infrastructure are classed as aging.

A programme has been established to address the aging AT HOP infrastructure and the associated support requirements. This will also incorporate increased capacity if required; following the Integrated Fares rollout.

Project Updates

  • They say the design of Nelson St phase 2 is 85% complete and construction is due to start in October. As yet there is still no indication of just what the final decision about what side it will go on.
  • On the trains they’re now trialling harmonic reducing software and other power management tools presumably to improve reliability of the trains further.
  • The hearing for the bridge to replace the Sarawia St level crossing was held last week. Hopefully we can get a resolution on this project soon.
  • Otahuhu Bus/Train interchange is on track for completion in August which is earlier than I thought was intended.

Not in the project section but this chart below shows how AT are tracking on their PT project spend for the financial year and as you can see there’s still quite a bit to go in some areas. On the bus infrastructure improvements they say they are still on target as a lot of works are due to happen in May and June however on the bus priorities and bus lanes they say

As a result of delays in receiving project mandates, we are forecasting a $1.3m underspent this financial year. It is proposed to defer the underspent amount to next financial year. That way we will still be on track to deliver the overall three year programme. We continue to work with Metro to improve program and gateway handover’s

2016-04 PT Infrastructure spend

When AT introduced the city centre parking zone a few years ago it also came with a policy about how AT would review the pricing on a regular basis. The pricing is meant to be demand responsive to ensure that occupancy of the carparks is in the 70-90% range and as part of that the hourly price increases if you stay in the park longer. The point of that is to encourage long term to parking buildings and leave on street parking just for short stay parking. As part of this the first 10 minutes are also free. As a result of the regular review AT plan to make some changes to prices.

In area one prices will go from $4/hour for the first two hours with $8/hour thereafter to $4.50/hour for the first two hours then $9/hour for every subsequent hour. In area 2 there are two different prices and AT will standardise them to $3/hour for the first two hours and then $6/hour for every subsequent hour. That’s an increase for some areas such as at Wynyard but no change elsewhere. Occupancy of the areas is shown below.

Of course some media have already picked up on this and are using it to make headlines.

2016-04 City Centre Parkting Zone changes

There’s a section of the report talking about a Waterview Connection Completion Plan which appears to be the NZTA and AT working out how everything will operate but it also says some physical works will be needed to local roads as a result. It also says this is needed “due to the requirement to manage traffic in the Waterview Tunnel”. The wording of the information suggests to me that the NZTA don’t want traffic backing up in the tunnels and so they will restrict access to them at times (presumably during the peak) and divert extra traffic to local roads. I’ve asked the NZTA for more info about this.

AT are closely monitoring traffic in the city especially so with all of the disruption that is and will be going on for some time to come. They say this highlighted issues with bus journey time reliability which seems mostly related to works that were happening such as the CRL enabling works on Victoria St. In response to this they’re making changes such as to signals to reduce impacts. The wording seems to suggest they’re only worried about traffic flow and I hope those changes that are being made aren’t also negatively impacting on pedestrians as a result.

There are a number of PT Updates, some of the more interesting are:

  • AT are in discussions with Birkenhead Transport for them to buy double deckers for use on Onewa Rd in the future.
  • In what is likely related to the PT financial tracking, AT say that as part of the new network for South Auckland, 32 projects for new or upgraded bus stops are under construction or about to start with another 152 in the pipeline.
  • AT are working on moving the Glen Eden Park n Ride which is due to be completed in June
  • On-board train digital information screens have been installed on one train and will be tested in May while they say the screens on buses will be trialled from April
  • AT include information on the number of complaints they have had about PT. With crowded buses in February and March it’s no surprise bus complaints have jumped up recently.

2016-04 PT Complaints

Supersizing Lincoln Rd

Way back at the end of 2013 Auckland Transport started a consultation on supersizing Lincoln Rd in Henderson – a road that in my view as a regular user is one of the most soul destroying in all of Auckland. It’s a road that’s almost completely automobile focused in its design and land-use yet seems to perform poorly for cars too, a textbook Stroad.

AT’s basic plan back then for Lincoln Rd was to once again widen it – this time to three lanes each way with the additional lanes being T3. Each direction would be separated by a solid raised median. At the big intersections that six-lane road would blow out to 9-10 lanes wide to cater for various turning movements while pedestrians and cyclists were to only have shared paths which from memory didn’t even meet AT’s low standards of the time. Here’s a video of what was proposed.

When they released the outcome of the consultation almost a year later one of the strongest pieces of feedback was around the cycle infrastructure and wanting separated cycleways, after-all if AT were going to the cost and bother of buying land they should at least cater for all modes properly. Their response to that was “A separated facility for cyclists will be investigated as part of the detailed design

But following that I had heard almost nothing about the project till this week when on the closed session agenda at the Auckland Transport board meeting this item was listed – “Lodgement of Lincoln Rd NoR” [notice of requirement]. This surprised me given that AT normally at least show their designs and often have a second (or even third) round of consultation before embarking on lodging a notice of requirement. Recent examples include Mill Rd, the Newmarket Crossing and seemingly most cycling projects.

A quick look at AT’s page for the project found they had uploaded some new details about the project in February but that they only alerted a narrow range of people. I would certainly count us and our friends at Bike Auckland in that last category.

February/ March 2016

Property owners individually notified of whether AT intends to purchase some or all of their property.

The latest version of the Lincoln Road upgrade incorporating feedback from previous consultation rounds will be shared with:

  • Affected property owners.
  • Tenants.
  • The wider catchment around Lincoln Road deemed to be indirectly affected by or interested in the proposals.

AT will also seek feedback from these stakeholders.

As for what’s now proposed, most of the project seems pretty much identical to what was proposed back in 2013 with the main change being that they have added separated bike lanes in.

The proposed upgrade of Lincoln Road seeks to:

  • Widen the road to provide an additional bus/T3 transit lane on each side.
  • Install an on-road kerbside cycleway segregated from the transit lane on both sides of the road.
  • Upgrade existing intersections.
  • Build a solid raised and planted median to replace the existing painted median.
  • Upgrade traffic signals and implement stormwater treatments.
  • Relocate and upgrade existing utility services.
  • Integrate with the NZ Transport Agency’s motorway interchange upgrade at Lincoln Road.

And the preliminary design (4.2MB) indicates what the road will look like. Below I’ll step through it with my observations, click the images to enlarge. In all cases North is to the left of the image.

The Triangle Rd/Central Park Dr intersection

As you can see the Lincoln Rd splays out over 10 lanes wide here if you count the space for the cycle lanes and central raised median. You can also see the cycle lanes that have been added which will be segregated – although this plan doesn’t say how yet.

One big new addition here is what appears to be a new road which presumably AT want to build to allow for driveways to be taken out. This may be for traffic reasons or that widening the road will make driveways physically impossible. There also seems to be a small island of houses being left that with this new road will effectively be surrounded by roads. I wonder if this is a case where AT and Panuku Development Auckland need to work together to come up with a better outcome. One potential positive though is that road also seems to open up the local park which is currently only accessed by a few walkways.

A few other things you can notice are a new possible shared path on the North-western side of the intersection which will presumably lead to an extension of the NW cycleway as part of the Royal Rd motorway widening. There also appear to be raised tables on each of the slip lanes which is at least positive and it adds the missing pedestrian crossing on the northern side of the intersection

Lincoln Rd Feb Design - Triangle-Central Park

Universal Dr intersectoin

Continuing on from the image above you can see a mid-block pedestrian crossing being proposed. One good thing is it appears that side streets such as Paramount Dr and Datyona Rd will get raised tables at their intersections with Lincoln Rd.

At Universal Dr the road once again splays out to a wide beast with 9 traffic lanes on either side. Most of the changes here are not too dissimilar to those at the Triangle/Central Park intersection. The left turn for cars to head north on Lincoln Rd has also been narrowed to a single lane which might upset some drivers. I’d also like to see a cycle lane on the western side of Universal Dr right up to the intersection as especially with that left turn being narrowed as there’s not much space there.

Lincoln Rd Feb Design - Universal

Pomaria Rd intersection

Pomaria Rd represents the end of this project and the image shows one of the aspects that concern me the most with the current incarnation of it. As you can see just after the intersection for coming out of the Pak n Save and Mitre 10 carpark (on left of image), the cycle lanes on either side just stop dead and there’s no indication of how bikes will be accommodated after that. In my view, AT need to find a way to extend those cycle lanes right to the Pomaria Rd intersection where it can at least there join with the existing cycle infrastructure.

Lincoln Rd Feb Design - Pomaria

Overall the design has improved but regardless it still represents a massive supersizing of the road and one that won’t come cheap. There is no indication of any changes south of Pomaria where ideally at least protected cycle lanes would be extended in the future.

While AT are about to go through the NoR for the project it seems it could be quite some time before anything is actually built. based on this timeline.

  • February 2016 to May 2016 – Project update with affected property owners and affected/interested parties.
  • May 2016 to June 2017 – Notice of Requirement (NoR) processes.
  • July 2017 to June 2020 – Hold up period (due to lack of funds).
  • July 2020 to December 2022 – Detailed design and land-take.
  • July 2020 to June 2022 – Consenting processes.
  • April 2023 to April 2025 – Construction.

All future dates are projections. Final timelines are to be confirmed and are subject to availability of funds.

Another Tauranga motorway approved

Tauranga continues to aspire to the title of mini-Auckland with an announcement from the government on Friday of $520 million for another motorway into the city, the 6.8km Tauranga Northern Link. The funding even includes a money set aside for a future extension of the to be built motorway a further 6km+ to Omokoroa.

Tauranga Northern Link Map

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced a $520 million roading package that will transform State Highway 2 (SH2) between Tauranga and Waihi.

The package includes:

  • The $286 million Tauranga Northern Link (TNL).
  • $85 million worth of safety improvements designed to reduce death and serious injury crashes.
  • Up to $150 million to provide for future traffic growth, paving the way for an upgrade between Omokoroa and Te Puna.

“This is a significant transport investment for Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty area. It will improve safety, reduce congestion and support growth on what is a very busy route, making a noticeable difference for motorists and easing freight movement,” Mr Bridges says.

“It is yet another example of the Government’s focus on increasing economic growth and improving safety through transport investment.

“We know that transport is an enabler of economic activity so we need to continue unlocking key congestion points to get people and freight moving efficiently around the country.”

The TNL is a new 6.8 km highway which will connect Tauranga’s Takitimu Drive Toll Road with SH2 Te Puna.

“The TNL is a long awaited project in the Tauranga community. Last week I attended a public meeting to hear the views of local people and it’s clear there’s a lot of support for getting this project underway.

“Once complete it will reduce traffic through the busy townships of Bethlehem and Te Puna, provide a better commute into the city, and support the Western Bay’s many industries.

“Today I’m also announcing that $150 million has been earmarked for a future extension of the TNL. A business case for extending the TNL from Te Puna to Omokoroa is expected to be completed toward the middle of next decade.

“All up this means the TNL will provide a four lane highway linking Tauranga’s Takitimu Drive Toll Road with SH2 at Omokoroa,” Mr Bridges says.

 

The project isn’t exactly new and a quick search finds it has been around in some form since the early 1990’s and was designated in 2001 so at least the project wasn’t just pulled out of thin air like the Puhoi to Warkworth project was. What surprised me the most about the announcement was the timing. I’ve seen discussion of the project before but it hasn’t been listed in various documents as happening at least within the next few years. It’s not even a project listed on the Bay of Plenty section of the NZTA website.

The daily traffic volumes at the western end of the project at Te Puna are shown below and the road is obviously busier once it gets closer to Tauranga – such as around Bethlehem. They’ve definitely taken a sharp upwards turn in recent years and given Tauranga’s plans to open up more development, especially around Omokoroa I suspect those volumes will increase.

Te Puna Traffic Volumes

While the announcement has been made now, the press release mentions construction won’t actually start till 2018 and the extension obviously some time later. As there’s already a designation the focus till then will be on design but it raises the question of why make such a public statement about it now? The funding for the as yet un-assessed extension also highlights the dramatic difference in playing field that exists with transport in NZ. Public transport, walking/cycling and even local road projects seem to have to jump through huge hoops to get funding but for state highways the cash is handed out without question.

The $436 million for those two bits of motorway can be added to some of the recently completed and currently under construction projects around Tauranga. This includes the $455 million Tauranga Eastern Link, the currently under construction $102 million to grade separate sections of SH2 through Bayfair and the $45 million to build an underpass at Maungatapu. There’s also the $62 million the NZTA recently spent to buy the failing Takitimu Dr (Route K) toll road off the Tauranga City Council.

The one aspect I do think is very good about the announcement is the significant amount of money going towards safety improvements between Te Puna and Waihi. One of the improvements already made a few years ago inspired me to write this post about how we need to see more focus on improving safety and so $85 million is likely to have significant benefits. The map below shows where the focus of that spending will be

Tauranga-Waihi SH2 Full Corridor Map

And this one focuses just on the Te Puna to Omokoroa section

Tauranga - Omokoroa to Te Puna Safety Improvements Map

The Future of Lake Rd

It doesn’t seem to take much to get residents along the Devonport Peninsula to quickly cursing Lake Rd and over the years I’ve seen many comments across all forms of media and politicians calling for the road to be upgraded as a priority – and by upgraded the implication is for it to be widened. One such example is below from a month ago.

But Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Jan O’Connor said Belmont was not an apartment area.

Building that number of extra homes would have a major impact on the already congested Lake Rd, the only route in and out of the peninsula, O’Connor said.

“Our board has really opposed any redevelopment until the Lake Road issue is addressed,” she said.

“It’s been like this for many years, it’s not something that’s just cropped up.”

Local residents Lesley and Myles Opie said the old navy housing area was a “shambles” and needed upgrading, but over 300 new homes would create unmanageable traffic.

“It’s going to be a massive increase in cars,” Myles Opie said.

As an aside, the 300-350 homes Ngati Whatua plan to build would represent just a ~3.5% increase over what’s on the peninsula now. Compared to the levels of growth in many other parts of the city that’s a tiny change. There is also not a huge amount of growth allowed for within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

Some other examples from a quick google search include this, this and this.

A lot of the commenters have also blamed the painted cycle lanes for causing congestion problems on Lake Rd even though the addition of lanes in the late 2000’s didn’t remove any vehicle lanes.

Those hoping for their own personal expressway up the peninsula are likely to be disappointed though if Auckland Transport’s plans for the corridor go ahead. They are about to start an Indicative Business Case to look at improvements along Lake Rd and that will build on the work already undertaken for the Corridor Management Plan which was completed in December 2014.

For some reason AT don’t publish their Corridor Management Plans (CMP) but they should be public in my view. However, the Lake Rd CMP was included in the agenda (27MB) for a meeting of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board last month (unfortunately due to the way the document is uploaded the images are low quality and can be difficult to read). CMPs incorporate a wide range of factors to create a 30 year strategic management plan including what if any changes might be made.

Lake Rd CMP area

The Lake Rd CMP area

My first thought is well done AT (and consultants), the vision is fantastic and exactly the kind of thinking that is needed across so much of our urban area. So what does the Lake Rd CMP say?

Network Role

The network role of the corridor was determined through a workshop process with technical stakeholders drawn from Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency.

Cyclists and pedestrians have been identified as the highest priority along the entire length of the corridor given the existing popularity for cycling and walking for recreation and commuting purposes to work and schools, their potential for growth and strategic policies requiring their increased support.

Public Transport has been recognised also as a high priority along the northern half of Lake Road, given its future use as a frequent bus route and the ability for this mode to increase the person carrying capacity of the corridor. South of old Lake Road this priority drops back to low as this section of Lake Road services few buses (and no frequent route).

Traffic has been identified as medium priority along the length of the corridor. This level is not so much a reflection of existing or future demand, but rather a strategic choice to provide greater focus and support for active modes and public transport to maximise the people moving capacity of the corridor.

Freight is generally identified as low priority as there are comparative minor levels of industrial and commercial activity along the peninsula.

I’ll cover the modes a little more shortly but first here are some demand forecasts for the peninsula over 30 years.

Population and employment growth are far lower on than for the rest of Auckland. According to Stats NZ there are about 27,000 on the peninsula and there is expected to be less than 10% growth over 30 years.

Lake Rd CMP Land Use

PT and Active modes are also expected to grow at a much faster rate than general traffic – although they start from lower levels.

Lake Rd CMP Transport Demand

Here are the strategies for each mode.

Pedestrians:

They say “a significant proportion of the land is relatively flat and with a well-connected grid of side streets in comparison to many other parts of Auckland” and that there are a wide range of destinations that are often in a short proximity to each other and so highly walkable. The plan includes increasing the frequency and quality of crossing opportunities, widened footpaths where there are current deficiencies, removal of shared paths where separated cycle-lanes can be installed and improved amenity elements (tree planting etc.)

 

Lake Rd CMP Walking

Cycling:

AT have recognised that the painted cycle lanes are not great for many people who may want to bike such as those less confident on the road and children. They are proposing to substantially improve them including separating them from traffic where possible.

 

Lake Rd CMP Cycling

Public Transport:

Public transport will be improved through high quality, better spaced and located stops and transit lanes where possible. While not part of the Lake Rd CMP, the map includes a potential bus bridge across Upper Shoal Bay connecting Akoranga to Takapuna which comes from a previous study into transport for Takapuna but they say would be relevant for the Lake Rd CMP.

Lake Rd CMP PT

General Traffic, freight and parking:

Due to the focus on active and PT modes there is very little suggested to change conditions for general traffic. They say that a substantial upgrade to traffic capacity such as four laning the section between Jutland Road and Bayswater Ave is unlikely to be appropriate, citing the high cost relative to benefits as well as the impacts on other modes and urban amenity.

Lake Rd already has low levels of on street parking. The CMP says it recommends retaining parking on the street through the Belmont local centre to “provide support to the economic viability and success of this local centre” but also say the design needs to be balanced with the objective of achieving continuous cycle lanes through Belmont shops junction.

Lake Rd CMP General Traffic

Urban Design amenity and place-making:

They say that while some parts of Lake Rd have retained their heritage landscape qualities, the rest of Lake Rd would benefit from regular street tree planting although that needs to avoid compromising the footpath width. They also say it would bring a number of benefits transport-wise such as visually narrowing the street corridor, thereby slowing traffic and providing a buffering for footpaths and potentially cycle lanes from moving traffic. Trees would also enhance residential property values and the local centre functions at Hauraki corner and Belmont Shops.

The CMP divides up Lake Rd into six distinctive segments each with its own strategy. The preferred spatial allocations for each segment are also shown.

Lake Rd CMP Corridor Segments

Segment A – Esmonde Rd to Jutland Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment A

Segment B – Jutland Rd to Bayswater Ave

Lake Rd CMP Segment B

Segment C – Bayswater Ave to old Lake Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment C

Segment D – Old Lake Rd to Seabreeze Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment D

Segment E – Seabreeze Rd to Ariho Tce

Lake Rd CMP Segment E

Segment F – Ariho Tce to Albert Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment F

Sections B-D are all essentially the same and an potential alternative version for them is below. The CMP says this would have greater benefits for walkers and cyclists plus urban amenity but would also likely have higher costs due to requiring kerbs, drainage and other utilities to be moved.

Lake Rd CMP Segment B-D Altnerate

At the Belmont shops the CMP gives two potential plans for how to improve either bikes or buses. Both would see the slip lanes removed and the angle parking on the eastern side of the road replaced by parallel parking. The differences between the two are both south of Bayswater Ave, one having a transit lane with a shared path and one having a single lane with a protected cycle lane.

Lake Rd CMP Belmont Shops

Overall the CMP looks great and would really help in turning Lake Rd into a complete St that catered for everyone.

As mentioned AT are about to start an indicative business case which will build on the CMP. This week the local board will decide on its feedback on the scope for it, the main components of which are listed as:

  • assessment of potential transit lanes to improve people-carrying capacity of Lake Road;
  • assessment of better pedestrian and cycle facilities within the peninsula to encourage more short trips by foot or bike;
  • analysis of intersection improvements to optimise traffic flows within the peninsula; and
  • analysis on travel behaviour change opportunities, to reduce and better manage bulk movements within the peninsula.

Given there’s so much else that needs to be done around the region, much of it in areas with far higher growth I’m not sure of the priority of upgrading Lake Rd but at least the thinking on what would be done is heading in the right direction, perhaps just not quite the direction some locals might expect.

Draft Preferred future urban networks

Yesterday we saw the feedback on the first consultation from the Transport for Urban Growth piece of work that AT/NZTA are currently undertaking. Now the next more detailed round of consultation has started and they’ve released their draft preferred transport networks. By in large the networks are very close to including most of what was initially consulted on. One thing that they haven’t given any indication on is what the timing will

The websites for each of the three main areas also gives a little bit of information as to how they’ve responded to the feedback received and for each of the key areas there is also a more detailed map which is on the AT website. In all of the maps below the mode/intervention uses the same colour scheme, Red = Rail, Green = Bus, Blue = Road, Gold = Safety improvements.

South

In the south it’s good to see AT specifically mention electrification to Pukekohe as that was something no mention was made of in the earlier consultation. It’s something we can only hope gets the go ahead soon as it seems fairly critical to some of the other parts of the plan for the South including a bunch of new stations and better services. On the roads the massive Mill Rd corridor is set to march on all the way to Pukekohe. The biggest omission from compared to the first consultation seems to be an east-west route from Pukekohe to SH1.

In this transport network, a key focus is increasing access to public transport, with more capacity and a well-connected rapid transit network at its heart. This would include electric trains to Pukekohe, express trains, new stations and rapid transit links, for example between the airport, Manukau, Flat Bush and Botany and a high frequency bus route between Drury and Manukau.

The plan focuses on great access to jobs, town centres and recreation within south Auckland and links to the wider region.

Another key focus for the south would be an extension of the Mill Road corridor from Manukau to Papakura and Drury. This would help improve safety, provide improved access to new growth areas and provide an additional north-south route. Connected to the Mill Road corridor is a new route to Pukekohe to improve safety or reduce congestion on SH22. An interchange with SH1 will also be further investigated at Drury South.

We’ve also identified further work is needed on how better connections between Waikato and Auckland can be provided.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - South

North

The North looks like a much bigger roads fest compared to the with almost all of the proposed roads from the earlier consultation included in this consultation. For PT the busway will be the heart of the system in the area and s being both physically extended by going to Grand Dr but also and with more stations too.

At the heart of the network is the extension of the rapid transit network (RTN) by linking Albany to Dairy Flat, Silverdale, Wainui and Grand Drive.

Additional stations along the RTN would become hubs for extended public transport services into the growth areas and Orewa, providing fast and efficient access to employment, town centres and residential areas.

Dedicated walking and cycling networks linking to public transport hubs would provide a range of options to get to work or for leisure. New and upgraded arterial roads running both eastwest and north-south would improve connections and safety through the area as well.

Capacity would also be increased on State Highway 1 (SH1). An interchange incorporating both Dairy Flat and Penlink will be investigated to see if it would alleviate access from bottlenecks at Silverdale further north.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - North

Northwest

Like the others it appears that almost all of projects from the earlier consultation have made it through to this round. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is AT say they’ll do some more to look at the costs and benefits of extending rail to Huapai – although the website also suggests it could be compared to electric rail.

A key focus of the draft network is on providing high capacity public transport networks to move people efficiently and reliably between the places they want to go. This includes a rapid transport network (RTN) adjacent to the SH16 and SH18 to and from Kumeu, Westgate through to the city and the North Shore. Park and ride facilities are also identified to provide access to these services.

Further investigations are proposed on the extension of electric trains to Huapai to assess benefits and costs. Initial work shows a RTN along SH16 will have faster journey times and serve a wider catchment.

Another key focus is improving the safety and capacity of SH16 north of Westgate and the major arterials that intersect it. To help address congestion as the area grows and keep the Kumeu and Huapai centres as safe, local community-focused environments, an alternative through-route to SH16 is proposed.

A direct motorway to motorway connection between SH16 and SH18, improvements to Brigham Creek Road, and upgrade to the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway and arterial road networks in Whenuapai and Red Hills are also identified. The feasibility of a range of different types of interchanges at Northside Drive and Squadron Drive will also be investigated. Dedicated walking and cycling paths connecting to public transport and existing cycle routes also feature.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - Northwest

TFUG consultation results

You may recall recently the consultation that took place for the piece of work AT/NZTA call Transport for Urban Growth (TFUG). Essentially over 2 Hamilton’s worth of people/homes are expected to be added to the fringes of Auckland in the North, North-west and South over the coming ~30 years. To accommodate that there will need to be significant public investment all forms of infrastructure and the two transport agencies say they are trying to work out what high level transport infrastructure will be needed now so it can be used for future planning and funding processes.

Today the Council’s Development Committee has an item on its agenda looking at the results from the initial consultations. Supposedly this has been fed into the next more detailed stage of consultation due to start tomorrow – but there are no details for that yet. Given how long it normally seems to take for AT to respond to consultation feedback, the whole process has a bit of a pre-determined feel to it.

There are over 160 pages in the consultation report so I’m only going to stick to the high level results. There is a very clear theme throughout the results of people really wanting much of the focus on public transport.

The South

In the South a lot of the focus included the level of use of the rail network and extending Mill Rd potentially all the way to Pukekohe as an alternative North/South road corridor.

TFUG Potential Projects South Auckland

From the 98 submissions there was a strong support for various improvements to PT in the area.

  • Improvements to public transport services in the area were considered highly desirable. In particular there was a call for improvements in rail services, including introduction of express services, extension of the rail network beyond Pukekohe, additional stations along the existing route (eg. at Paerata), further electrification of the network through to Pukekohe and beyond and more park and ride facilities. There was a clear preference to spend money and invest on public transport in the area and rail, rather than bus services, was seen as the key focus.
  • Support for improvements to public transport services came from both residents and businesses.
  • There was also support for improved road connections to reduce congestion on the Southern Motorway, such as by providing an alternative north-south route (eg. to the airport and the west via Weymouth and/or extension of the Mill Road corridor), or widening of the existing Southern Motorway. Reducing travel times was considered the highest priority and an alternative route was preferred as the best way to improve roads to achieve this. Others suggested that increasing rail freight services in the area would reduce the number of trucks needed to move freight by road and in the area, therefore helping to address congestion.
  • While most comments and most comments and feedback focussed on public transport and road networks, there was a small number of comments regarding improvements to walking and cycling facilities in the area, including pedestrian and cycle access and connections to railway stations.
  • Many participants were sceptical that only 20% of morning peak work trips would be further north than Manukau and the Airport trip data collected as part of the consultation suggested the Auckland CBD is a key destination for those living in the south.

One of the interesting features about the consultations was the use of a wallet that allowed people to divvy up $100 of spending across each of the proposed projects. Here are the results.

TFUG Feedback - Spend - South

The North (Silverdale,Wainui), Dairy Flat)

In the north the focus was also on North/South routes with a number suggested along with extending the busway to Silverdale and possibly beyond.

TFUG Potential Network - Dairy Flat-Millwater

Again public transport improvements received the most support from the 100 submissions received. A summary is below.

  • There was a call for improvements to public transport services the area, particularly to bus services. Many people living in the area would prefer to travel by bus and wanted to see bus that were efficient, affordable and well-connected. Specific improvements included more frequent and express services, separate busways and bus lanes, extension of the Northern Busway and local bus feeder services. Increasing at park and ride facilities was identified as a key issue There was a desire to see heavy or light rail in the area and increased ferry services.
  • There was a sense that many participants felt transport networks and infrastructure were behind housing growth and development the area, further contributing to existing traffic issues. Improvements to public transport were seen as key to alleviating some of the current congestion.
  • Recommendations for improvements to road networks focussed on improvements to routes (eg widening State Highway 1, additional on/off-ramps), as well as east-west routes such as Penlink. Safety was also highlighted as an issue on roads in the Dairy Flat area. Strong links to through roads and motorways was considered a key focus for business areas.
  • The Auckland CBD and Albany were key destinations tor people Wing in the Silverdale, Wainui and Dairy Flat areas.
  • There was notable support for improvements to walking and cycling facilities in the area, such as separate cycle lanes and widening of roads to make them safer for cyclists and footpaths in places where people are currently forced to walk along main highways

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - North

The North (Warkworth)

In Warkworth the focus of the consultation was almost exclusively on a range of roading projects.

TFUG Potential Network - Warkworth

Warkworth bucked the trend of the other consultations and was the only one where people wanted the biggest focus to be on road improvements. Given the town is much more disconnected from Auckland than say Pukekohe, this isn’t all that surprising. A summary of the findings from the 169 submissions received.

  • For this part of north, improvements to roads in the area was the highest priority, In particular. participants wanted to see improvements to the Hill Street and reduced congestion generally, particularly in Warkworth itself and on Matakana Road. Addressing particularly around the Hill Street intersection. was considered a matter of urgency and one of the main ways to make the area a great place to live. This was considered a priority by both residents and businesses. East-west were considered a lower priority.
  • Recommendations to address in the area Western Collector bypass, the Matakana Link to access to Elizabeth Street, changes to traffic light phasing and/or the intersection a roundabout instead. A Matakana Link Road extension in particular had a hotel level of support from locals in this part of the north.
  • Public transport improvements were considered a priority, but secondary to improvements to road networks. Primarily, residents called tor improvements to bus services (such as regular bus services, new bus stations and bus service connections to the Northern Busway) and adequate park and facilities.
  • Good walking and connections were also desired by participants. This included provision of footpaths in areas not currently served by them, wider and better quality footpaths and cycle paths.
  • The Auckland CBD is a key destination for those living in the Warkworth area, followed by local trips within Warkworth and Abany. There was a preference for making journeys by car or bus.

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - Warkworth

The North-West

The Northwest was different to the others in that it presented quite a few potential PT options and of course some road upgrades too to SH16 beyond Westgate.

TFUG Potential Network - Northwest

Like in the South and around Silverdale, the biggest response from the 254 submitters was for better PT as the highest priority. That trains to Huapai came out as the top request doesn’t surprise me as it’s something that sounds good as a soundbite.

  • Public transport improvements are considered the key priority in the north west. In particular, participants called for re-introduction of a commuter train service from Kumeu/Huapai (and potentially as far as Waimauku and Helensville) to the CBD. Participants wanted to see a train service that was frequent, reliable and fast, with a timetable that met resident needs (eg. at convenient times tor commuters to the CBD). There was also considerable support for improved bus services, including express bus services and shorter journey times, separate busways and bus lanes, extension of the Northwestern busway to Kumeu/Huapai and bus services to locations such as Riverhead. Re-introduction of rail and improvements to public transport generally received support from both residents and businesses.
  • Alongside public transport improvements, participants wanted to see accompanying park and ride facilities with sufficient capacity.
  • Secondary to public transport improvements, improvements to road networks in the area was considered a priority to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.
    Recommendations included extending the North Western Motorway, widening the motorway and/or State Highway 16, bypassing Kumeu/Huapai, a direct connection between State Highway 16 and State 18 and improvements to intersections (eg. at the Coatseville-Riverhead Highway) to reduce congestion and improve safety.
  • Many participants mentioned that improvements to in the area needed to happen urgently, given that infrastructure is already to cope and the population the area is to grow
  • Improvements to walking and cycling facilities, particularly in the Whenuapai area.
  • The Auckland CBD was the key in the area, followed by Albany and Westgate/North West Mall. There was a preference for wanting to make journeys by train or bus

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - North-west

It’ll be interesting to see what the next stage of consultation includes.

Is SH20 (WRR) flooding the isthmus with traffic?

Commuting around the city has been intense lately. I generally avoid most of the drama since I ride a bike. From Balmoral I take Dominion Road to the City Centre and on most days at 10kph I’m moving faster than the cars. It is now common for traffic to be queued from Ian MacKinnon Drive to Mt Roskill.

IMG_2690

Dominion Road at Balmoral shops looking south

During March (and now April) traffic has become so acute that motorists are now using alternative routes when Mt Eden Rd and Dominion Rd get stuffed up. One such route is Matipo Street midway between Mt Eden Road and Dominion Rd. This route also happens to form part of the Dominion Road Parallel Cycle Route.

Part of the appeal of this route is the new signal added at Matipo Street and Balmoral Road. This enables motorists to turn safely and regularly. (This signal is also great for my kids as it extends their range of travel to schools and Potters Park.)

So while the signal plays a part in the attractiveness, the traffic levels seem significantly higher than last year. Here is a video of a what it looks like at about 8:30AM. I have seen these conditions on several days. This street is adjacent to Mangawhau Primary School so it adds an additional barrier for kids walking/cycling to school.

Some of the traffic is parents dropping their kids off at school. Some of the traffic is generated locally. But I don’t think either school traffic or locals trips would have changed over the last couple of years.
video
Instead, I think that the SH20 extension is dumping more traffic into the isthmus. Because Dominion Road and Eden Road are so swamped with traffic people are increasingly seeking short cuts to get through these neighbourhoods. As SH20 becomes a major traffic-inducing link I expect to see more of these unintended consequences popping up along its length.

The Domain and the Orakei Local Board

You may recall recently the council were consulting on a 20-year Domain Masterplan. In it a lot of the focus was on making the Domain more people focused including improving walking and cycling options while removing some of the parking and through routes for driving – among many other things.

Draft Domain Plan - Museum Carpark

The Orakei Local Board are voting to approve their feedback on the plan today and it highlights what a farce this kind of process could be. To start with it is based off the views of just seven people and three business associations. That’s hardly representative of a ward with nearly 90,000 residents. Worse is the feedback itself which can effectively be summarised as

  1. Keep all of the parking and roads in the Domain.
  2. Remove stuff that slows cars down.

Orakei Local Board Feedback

We’ll have to wait to see what what the rest of the feedback was and what – if any changes get made to the plan as a result.