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Auckland Transport

Whangaparaoa Road dynamic lanes trial Whangaparaoa Road dynamic lanes trial

Auckland Transport (AT) is trialling dynamic lanes along Whangaparaoa Road to reduce traffic congestion during peak times.


Project status: Trial in progress.
Project zone: North.


Project overview

The 12-month dynamic lane control trial runs along Whangaparaoa Road in the area between Hibiscus Coast Highway and Red Beach Road.

The system uses LED lights embedded into the road surface to mark traffic lanes instead of painted lines. Changing these LED lights is a quick and safe way to create a temporary lane during heavy congestion and to ensure free traffic flow.

Traffic control gantries will also display clearly which lanes drivers should use.

Dynamic lanes have been trialled in cities around the world to manage peak traffic flows. Similar systems are currently used in Auckland along the Panmure Bridge and Auckland Harbour Bridge. The system is quick to build and more cost-effective than road widening.

Safety is a key consideration and has been reflected in the design of the dynamic lane trial. We will closely monitor the lanes for the duration of the trial and will make adaptive changes if required, such as to the phasing of signals at either intersection or the times when dynamic lanes are active.

Map of the trial area

View the map of the trial area (PDF 2MB)

Timeline

  • 2016 - Investigation and design work.
  • 2017 - Design completed; physical works began October 2017; system in place December 2017.
  • 2018 - Trial began 24 January and will run for 12 months.

How the system works

We selected Whangaparaoa Road for this trial because of its current configuration. It provides one lane in either direction and a wide central median strip.

Afternoon peak: Monday to Friday, 4pm to 7pm

During afternoon peak traffic, the centre median strip turns into an additional traffic lane for peak traffic heading towards the Red Beach Road intersection.

The lanes are signalled by the in-road LED lights and signs on the overhead gantries.

Whangaparaoa Rd afternoon peak lanes

Image: Artist's impression of dynamic lane controls.

Morning peak traffic: Monday to Friday, 6:00am to 9am

From 18 April 2018

During morning peak traffic, the centre median strip turns into an additional lane for peak traffic heading towards the Hibiscus Coast Highway.

The lanes are signalled by the in-road LED lights and signs on the overhead gantries.

Whangaparaoa Rd morning peak lanes

Image: Artist's impression of dynamic lane controls.

Non-peak traffic

In non-peak traffic, the median strip in the centre of the road remains unchanged. One lane of traffic runs in both directions as normal.

Off peak lanes

Image: Artist's impression of dynamic lane controls.

Operational hours

For the first three months of the trial, we have operated dynamic lanes during the afternoon peak period only (4pm to 6pm). We extended the afternoon period by an hour (4pm to 7pm) from 26 February.

The morning peak trial began on 18 April from 6am to 9am.

This staged approach allowed road users to become familiar with the system and addressed concerns raised by residents along the trial area regarding making right turns in and out of side streets and attempting to cross the road on foot during peak times.

If improvements to travel times are positive, we will continue to operate dynamic lanes during the morning and afternoon peaks. We do reserve the right to make changes to the operating times of dynamic lanes at any time.

Data will be collected throughout the trial to allow us to build a clear profile of what is necessary to make the dynamic system work most effectively and will inform, and may influence, further investigations into a permanent solution for Whangaparaoa Road.

Detailed designs by section

Signage

The system has been designed to be highly visible to all road-users. In addition, the approach to the trial site will be well sign-posted with Variable Message Signs (VMS) showing that the dynamic lane is in operation and overhead gantry signs will inform drivers which lanes to use.

All side roads will also have signage approaching Whangaparaoa Road to remind drivers that dynamic lane controls are in operation.

Getting in and out of side roads

We acknowledge that removal of the flush median may cause some delay for right turners and it is expected that right-turning vehicles will block through lanes at various times. Drivers who are not confident in making right turns during peak periods may need to change their travel route which may result in increased travel times. However, there are a number of other sections of busy, multi-lane roads across Auckland which operate without flush medians.

We believe that the current phasing of traffic lights will create sufficient gaps to give traffic, pedestrians and cyclists exiting side roads and properties enough time to safely cross or access Whangaparaoa Road. The site will be monitored at our control centre and AT will actively manage the phasing of traffic signals to optimise the movement of traffic. 

Creating an additional left turn lane at the Whangaparaoa Road intersection

Following feedback about easing traffic flow from the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board as well as the local community, left turns from the kerb-side west bound lane to Silverdale at the Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection will be allowed as part of the morning peak trial.

This will effectively create two left-turn lanes onto the highway and help to ease the movement of traffic.

The possibility of widening the left-turn slip lane at the intersection was investigated during the design phase of this project. It was found that an extra lane cannot be provided without significant road widening, which falls outside of the strategic and financial scope of this project. However, this will be investigated further based on data gathered by this trial and will be a consideration in the future if successful.

Safety

While the dynamic lanes on Whangaparaoa Road have been designed to increase efficiency, and to trial a valuable tool for addressing congestion, the safety of road users is a key element of the design.

We have undertaken independent safety audits of the preliminary design and of the latest design. These safety audits are carried out by independent parties to identify and mitigate safety risks.

Monitoring of safety is also a critical component of the trial. We will be using a series of CCTV cameras along the trial route for active and accurate monitoring of the trial. The issues highlighted by the audit will be closely considered as part of the monitoring. AT will seek to act quickly where significant issues arise through mitigation measures or ultimately a halt of the trial if it is deemed unsafe.

The speed limit on Whangaparaoa Road will be reduced to 50km/h for at least the initial period of the trial. This will be monitored as the trial progresses and data collected will be used to inform a decision on the final speed limit.

Walking and cycling along the trial location

Pedestrians crossing Whangaparaoa Road between Hibiscus Coast Highway and Red Beach Road currently experience difficulty due to the consistent stream of traffic in peak periods. Consequently AT’s survey data shows very few pedestrians cross mid-block away from signals.

As part of the trial AT will encourage pedestrians to make their way to either the Red Beach Road or Hibiscus Coast Highway intersections to cross. While there is not a footpath for the entire section, there is berm which pedestrians can use. AT recognises that this is an inconvenience to pedestrians who are centrally located on this stretch of road.

While the installation of new pedestrian facilities is not a part of this trial, AT will monitor and consider improved pedestrian facilities as a separate project, if the trial is successful. Part of the monitoring will also help determine whether the change in layout results in more gaps in traffic for safer pedestrian-crossing opportunities.

Survey data also indicates that there are very few cyclists using this section of Whangaparaoa Road. Reduced lane widths and removal of the flush median during peak periods will constrain the available space for motorists to pass cyclists, however providing two lanes of flow in the predominant direction will enable vehicles to change lanes in order to pass cyclists. The reduction in speed limit at the beginning of the trial should contribute to mitigating safety concerns for cyclists.

Throughout the trial, AT will closely monitor travel times, driver behaviour, delay for right turners and the safety of everyone using the road. The impact on pedestrians, cyclists and right turners together with any change in travel times, will be factored into reporting on the success of the trial. If at any time during the operation of dynamic lanes there are issues that result in a significant safety concern, the configuration of the road will be returned to its existing format.


Comment on the trial

Send your comments on the trial to the project team.

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