Auckland Transport plans to begin work on Whangaparaoa Rd next month to prepare it for the trial of a traffic control system called Dynamic Lanes – and residents are invited to a public meeting this weekend to air their concerns.
Construction on the road between Red Beach Road and the highway is expected to take around five months, with the trial itself to start early next year. The cost of the project is $2.5 million.
Commuters who remember the widening of Whangaparaoa Rd (from Red Beach Rd to Vipond Rd) in 2005 will have their hearts in their mouths. That project took seven months and saw travel times as much as tripling in the rush hour. Traffic volumes have increased significantly since then.
However, although there are no specific details of the works available until a contractor is appointed, Auckland Transport (AT) spokesperson James Ireland says “the construction of this project is likely to be significantly less disruptive than for a traditional road-widening”.
He says AT and its contractor will work with the community in the lead up to the trial to minimise any inconvenience. “Local residents and businesses will be notified of construction details and traffic management plans well in advance of any physical work,” Mr Ireland says.
AT will seek to address residents’ concerns at a Meet the Project Team session to be held this weekend, on Saturday, July 8, at the Red Beach School Hall from 9.30am–11.30am. It is a public meeting and anyone may attend.
The trial will use gantries and LED lights to change the road configuration, creating an additional lane in the direction of main traffic flow in peak hours.
AT has been investigating dynamic lanes on road corridors since August 2014 and was originally expected to start the Whangaparaoa trial last year.
The system is relatively quick to build and cost effective compared to road widening (the cost of widening this section of Whangaparaoa Rd to four lanes was estimated at $20 million in 2011).
AT network management and safety manager Randhir Karma says that the installation of dynamic lane controls along Whangaparaoa Rd would also require relatively low use of surrounding road reserve land, which will minimise disruption to residents.
Similar systems operate on Panmure Bridge and Auckland Harbour Bridge, but this is the first time it has been trialled in a residential area.
“The outcome of this trial will be used to determine the suitability of dynamic lane controls for this section of Whangaparaoa Rd as a permanent feature as well as its suitability in other parts of Auckland,” Mr Karma says.