Auckland Transport (AT) is trialling dynamic lane controls along Whangaparaoa Road to reduce traffic congestion during peak times.
Project status: Trial in progress.
Project zone: North.
The 12-month dynamic lane control trial runs along Whangaparaoa Road in the area between Hibiscus Coast Highway and Red Beach Road.
The dynamic lane control 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 ensure free traffic flow.
Traffic control gantries will also display clearly which lanes drivers should use.
Dynamic lane control systems 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 dynamic lanes for the duration of the trial and will make adaptive changes, such as to the phasing of signals at either intersection or the times when dynamic lanes are active, if warranted.
Map of the trial area
- 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.
We selected Whangaparaoa Road for this trial because of its current configuration. It has 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.
Image: Artist's impression of dynamic lane controls: afternoon peak.
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 traffic 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.
Image: Artist's impression of dynamic lane controls: morning peak.
In non-peak traffic times, the median strip down the centre of the road remains unchanged. One lane of traffic runs in both directions as normal.
Image: Artist's impression of dynamic lane controls: off-peak.
For the first 3 months of the trial, we are operating dynamic lanes during the afternoon peak period only (4pm to 6pm). We are extending the afternoon period by an hour from 26 February (4pm to 7pm).
Should no critical issues emerge in the first 3 months, we will look to extend the trial to the morning peak (6.00am to 9am).
This staged approach will allow road users to develop familiarity with the system and will also address concerns raised by residents along the affected trial area (making right turns in and out of side streets and attempting to cross the road on foot during peak times).
The afternoon peak is when we believe the system will be operating at peak efficiency and road users will see the most improvement and benefit to travel time.
Although the impact on morning peak travel times is not expected to be as significant as the afternoon peak, due to there being only one lane turning left towards the city at the Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection, some improvement is expected as the centre lane will provide separate access for traffic heading to neighbouring Silverdale.
The benefit of this movement will likely increase as development in Silverdale and Millwater continues to grow. There is also likely to be additional benefit should any change in the left turn arrangement at this intersection be introduced.
If a noticeable improvement is detected we will continue to operate dynamic lanes during the morning peak and vice versa. Nevertheless, we reserve the right to make changes to the operating times of dynamic lanes at all times.
Regardless of the outcome, the data collected at this time will allow us to build a clear and documented profile of what would be necessary to make the dynamic system work during the morning peak which will inform, and may influence, further investigations into a permanent solution for Whangaparaoa Road.
- Section 1: Hibiscus Coast Highway end of Whangaparaoa Rd (PDF 544KB)
- Section 2 (PDF 408KB)
- Section 3 (PDF 356KB)
- Section 4 (PDF 384KB)
- Section 5: Red Beach Rd end (PDF 364KB)
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.
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 routes which may result in increased travel times. However, it should be noted that 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 also be actively monitored at our control centre and AT will actively manage the phasing of traffic signals to optimise the movement of traffic. The change in layout which will split the previous single-file queue along Whangaparaoa Road across two lanes, may also create more gaps.
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 2 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. Regrettably, it was found that an extra lane cannot be provided without significant road widening work, 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 following the trial, should it be successful.
While the dynamic lane controls on Whangaparaoa Road have been designed to increase efficiency and to trial a valuable tool for addressing congestion on Whangaparaoa Road and across the region, the safety of road users is also a key element of the design.
To optimise safety, we have undertaken an independent safety audit of the preliminary design and are currently undertaking a second safety audit of the latest design. These safety audits are undertaken by independent parties and are carried out 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 to facilitate 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.
A user perception survey was undertaken in 2014 to determine driver behaviour responses to a dynamic lane control. A second driver perception survey based on the final design of the system is being undertaken and will be completed before the trial begins.
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 currently 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, should the trial prove successful. Part of the monitoring will also include confirming whether the change in layout results in more gaps in traffic for safer pedestrian-crossing opportunities due to the previous single-file queue of traffic along Whangaparaoa Road being split across two lanes.
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 of the scheme 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.
Disruption to local residents and businesses
AT and its appointed contractor will be committed to working with the local community in the lead up to the trial to minimise any inconvenience during the construction period. Local residents and businesses will be notified of construction details and traffic management plans well in advance of any physical work.
We’ll be doing everything we can to make the trial work for local residents and businesses. We would urge them to work with us, talk to us and above all drive safely when the trial is underway.
Send your comments on the trial to the project team.
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