By Bruce Morris
Even the mighty and powerful cannot budge Auckland Transport from its conviction that the village upgrade has been successful.
After backgrounding staff from Jacinda Ardern’s office, AT has summed up the upgrade with a confident declaration: “We hope the data and information affirms that the key objectives of the project have indeed been delivered.”
The Prime Minister had expected to be at this week’s meeting to hear the council agency’s views, but it conflicted with her New York visit to the United Nations.
In her place, senior staff and members of the Albert Eden Local Board were led through the town centre project and now AT executive Lorna Stewart has written a follow-up document.
She’s told the board and PM’s office.“… despite people’s perceptions the evidence is that travel times (and speeds) through the town centre are not extreme and overall traffic counts remain similar to that prior to construction.”
The document gives the impression everything is going as well as can be expected, side-stepping community concerns over:
- Rat-runners using previously-quiet streets to avoid the town centre hassles;
- Illegal parking in poorly-signed clearways that will continue to impede traffic flows and be a headache into the future;
- The upgrade design (into which AT had major input) that introduced wide cycle lanes and footpaths, forcing the use of clearways always likely to pose policing problems;
- The east-west flow between Carrington Rd and Mt Albert Rd that badly stutters in busy times and gives too much emphasis to the limited flow of right-turning traffic.
In the document to the board and Ms Ardern’s local office as MP for Mt Albert, Ms Stewart says travel time through the New North Rd/Carrington Rd/Mt Albert Rd intersection is about the same as it was before the beginning of the works in April 2017.
Noting that traffic volumes in the area were cut by around 25-30 per cent after the Waterview tunnel opened in July 2017, she says the current traffic flow through the intersection is 22,000 vehicles a day.
This is comparable to the Mt Eden town centre, though vehicles spend less time in traffic in Mt Albert town centre than in Mt Eden.
Ms Stewart says the Auckland Traffic Operations Centre (ATOC) is continuing to actively manage the operation of traffic signals in the town centre, and the monitoring and tweaking of the light phasing has seen an improvement in the performance of the intersection.
In the morning peak:
- Vehicle speed when travelling through the intersection from Carrington Rd has increased from 20kph (measured August 20-24) to 34kph (September 17-20) and travel time decreased from 289 seconds to 175 seconds respectively
- Travel speeds for vehicles travelling through the intersection from Mt Albert Rd have increased from 26kph (August 20-24) to 31kph (September17-20), and travel time decreased from 304 seconds to 257 seconds respectively
- New North Rd has remained consistent
In the evening peak:
- Vehicle speed when travelling through the intersection from Carrington Rd has increased from 19kph (August 20-24) to 31kph (September 17-20), and travel time decreased from 304 seconds to 193 seconds respectively
- The speed and travel times for vehicles travelling from Mt Albert Rd have remained consistent.
Ms Stewart says the performance along New North Rd during evening peak continues to present a challenge.
“While AT continues to safeguard the clearway, a single vehicle parked in the clearway will have a detrimental impact on travel time and speed through the town centre,” she says.
Since July 9, AT has issued more than 200 infringement notices and towed over 120 vehicles. The AT enforcement team will remain in the town centre during evening peak for as long as possible, “but eventually they will need to return to a rostered system of enforcement”.
Ms Stewart says managing the traffic during the weekend will be more difficult to address. AT is unable to operate a clearway at these times because parking is important to local businesses.
But ATOC is working to find ways to improve the traffic light phasing for weekend traffic, and AT’s parking enforcement team will also ensure the P60 is enforced.
On other matters, she notes:
- AT earlier determined that retaining the right-turn from New North Rd into Mt Albert Rd was the best option and traffic engineers are monitoring the situation.
- AT has improved lighting at the car park behind ASB with safer white lighting and is in the process of improving the lights in the tennis club car park. A new pole and extra LED lighting will be added.
- Other issues, including time restrictions and more/improved signage are currently in the process of being resolved.