The latest reports produced by Auckland Transport on its Dynamic Lane trial on Whangaparaoa Rd show that the extra lane is reducing queues and travel times, although there is still congestion when cars turn left onto the highway.
Auckland Transport (AT) is monitoring traffic during the trial and producing monthly reports.
The system was designed as a way to improve traffic flow on the congested road. It involved overhead gantries, signs and marking the flush median between Red Beach Rd and Hibiscus Coast Highway with LED lights that can be switched on and off, allowing traffic to use the median as an extra lane on and off the peninsula at peak times. Speed on this part of the road was lowered to 50kph – AT says this is unlikely to change.
Operation of the $3m system began on January 24, initially only in the afternoon peak. The lane was switched on for the morning peak on April 18.
The May reports show that one crash happened during the morning rush in that first month. The report says that the crash was a result of a lane change from the Dynamic Lane to the left lane. “This could have occurred on any multi-lane section of road and is not considered a direct result of the Dynamic Lane,” the report says.
Travel time savings in the morning peak are calculated to be 2.5-7 minutes per vehicle, from Vipond Rd to East Coast Rd. This reduces to 2-6 minutes per vehicle (from East Coast Rd to Red Beach Rd) in the afternoon peak.
Key concerns raised about the Dynamic Lanes by residents who live on this stretch of road, or access it from side roads, included safe turning, and wait times.
The May report shows that it takes an average of 30 seconds to turn right from side access onto Whangaparaoa Road in the afternoon peak – which AT considers “acceptable”. The report says the average is 11.7 seconds for right turns off Whangaparaoa Rd in the afternoon peak, which AT considers good for an arterial road. The report notes that a higher frequency of westbound traffic than in previous months made right turns more difficult.
In the morning peak, wait times are an average of 15.3 seconds turning right onto Whangaparaoa Rd from side access, and 7.3 seconds for right turns off Whangaparaoa Rd. Fewer right turns were observed compared to the previous month.
Pedestrians are waiting around a minute, on average, to cross Whangaparaoa Rd – an average of 68.5 seconds in the afternoon, and 65.1 seconds in the morning. Most pedestrians are crossing to and from bus stops.
A very low number of cyclists has been seen using the road (at most two per day) with most of them riding on the road in the morning, and on the footpath in the afternoon. This is perhaps no surprise given that there is no designated cycle lane and around 1900 vehicles per hour are using the route – an increase of 250-300 on the same time last year.
While traffic queues have reduced at key points such as the right hand turn onto the peninsula in the afternoon and the Red Beach Rd intersection in the morning, there is still queuing turning left off the peninsula in the morning. Most cars (a ratio of 14:1) are using the established single lane for this turn over the new signposted left turn.
AT spokesperson Mark Hannan says that no permanent changes are planned to this intersection.
The trial runs until January, at which time a decision about whether or not the Dynamic Lanes will become permanent will be made.
The AT reports are linked here.