In this week’s issue, we cover what Auckland Transport propose as short-term solutions and what they will not consider. Some proposals will be implemented before Christmas and consult on one controversial proposal after Christmas.
At Wednesday’s Warkworth Area Liaison Group (WALG) meeting, Auckland Transport put forward five proposals, three that we agree with.
A minor win includes the redefinition of hatched no stopping areas. Basically, the areas between the Sandspit Road/Matakana Road intersection and Sandspit Road/ Millstream Place will be a “Keep Clear” zone. So will the area around the Sandspit Road/Elizabeth Street intersection. This will avoid gridlock where queued traffic blocks other vehicles from making turns into and out of Elizabeth Street, Millstream Place, Sandspit Road, and Kowhai Park.
The one big win is the relocation of the Sandspit Road pedestrian crossing to the traffic lights. That would mean the pedestrians can cross Sandspit Road when the State Highway 1 southbound signals are green.
To make the pedestrian crossing safer and Sandspit Road safer (but not safest), traffic light signals will control the SH1 sliplane into Sandspit Road. The new signals will be red when the Sandspit Road signals are green.
The sliplane signals removes one of the conflict issues, which is southbound State Highway 1 traffic entering Elizabeth Street. The give way on Sandspit Road at Elizabeth Street will remain, however, creating confusion for unaccustomed drivers not knowing whether the State Highway 1 sliplane traffic light is green. Just think of how fast vehicles currently travel through that sliplane towards Elizabeth Street.
Here is a diagram of the current priority of who must give way to whom:
According to the road code (http://bit.ly/2wPwC7m), turning traffic is meant to give way to Sandspit Road through traffic. Traffic coming out of Elizabeth Street still gives way to Sandspit Road traffic. But what about traffic from the southbound State Highway 1 sliplane onto Sandspit Road?
Because there is a Sandspit Road give way, that traffic must give way to traffic turning into Elizabeth Street from eastbound Sandspit Road traffic. The southbound SH1 sliplane is not part of the intersection with Elizabeth Street. It is part of the State Highway 1 intersection with Sandspit Road. We can understand this rationale as that area is the last place anyone wants queuing to get into Elizabeth Street.
With the traffic signals on the southbound SH1 sliplane into Sandspit Road, it might improve flow along Sandspit Road. But what about northbound State Highway 1 traffic turning right into Sandspit Road and then turning right into Elizabeth Street?
We suggested that to avoid the confusion, there be linked lights for Sandspit Road and Elizabeth Street. By widening the Sandspit Road through traffic to two lanes and removing the short queuing area at the current traffic lights, the capacity of the intersection can increase and gridlock is avoided. For a short-term fix, we understand that such a suggestion is asking too much.
Another suggestion that we proposed was a sliplane from the Sandspit Road/Matakana Road intersection to the Sandspit Road/Elizabeth Street intersection. Auckland Transport originally dismissed it but will relook at the suggestion of changing splitter islands.
Auckland Transport still think that access into Elizabeth Street is the core problem. After last year’s Elizabeth Street trial, they want to consult in the New Year about installing a movable barrier (like a railway crossing barrier) across the entrance to Elizabeth Street during AM peak only. In addition, they will add signage to promote Whitaker Street as the entrance to the Central Business District.
Temporary measures only add confusion. It will also add angst for Warkworth businesses, primary school parents, and emergency services.
One final measure that we are not happy with at all is the exit from Kowhai Park. We suggested that the current entrance to the park on be an entrance only and that an entrance/exit be located at the northern boundary with State Highway 1. NZTA dismissed this suggestion.
Finally, Auckland Transport will not be fixing the Mellwood Drive intersection this year, as we were lead to believe. They say they have other priorities this year. We need to really push this one hard. It is a real safety issue and is part of the wider Hill St Intersection problem.
We were meant to also receive an announcement about who is undertaking the major upgrade investigation. Cue the night crickets: http://bit.ly/1jKvRRt.
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