The NZTA have announced a much needed upgrade to SH16 between Brigham Creek and Waimauku.

A stretch of Auckland’s State Highway 16, between Brigham Creek and Waimauku is set to get a $53million upgrade that will include a new roundabout, extra lanes, safety barriers to prevent head-on crashes and more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
The NZ Transport Agency Board has approved funding for the design and construction of the project, which is part of the government’s $600 million Safe Roads programme.

Between 2006 and 2015, there were four people killed and 30 seriously injured on this stretch of road. Many deaths and injuries were caused by head-on crashes or drivers running off the road into trees, poles or deep ditches.

The Transport Agency’s System Design Manager Brett Gliddon says the safety improvements will help ensure that simple mistakes won’t cost lives or leave people seriously injured in the future.

The upgrade will introduce short to medium term solutions to improve safety and efficiency ahead of other longer term infrastructure projects to address expected urban growth in northwest Auckland. It will also coordinate with projects in the Kumeu, Huapai and Waimauku urban centres along SH16 to ensure consistency in standards and treatment.

“Improvements will include extra lanes between Brigham Creek and Taupaki roundabout to help with travel times, a flush median to give drivers more room and a safe place to turn, and a roundabout at the SH16/Coatesville Riverhead Highway intersection to help traffic flow,” says Mr Gliddon.

Flexible road safety barriers will be put along sections of the route. The barriers help reduce road deaths by 70-80 per cent.

Mr Gliddon says the funding approval meant the team could finalise the design and start construction in late 2018.

The project will be carried out in stages over three years. The section between Huapai and Waimauku will be started first and is expected to take just over 12 months. The Brigham Creek to Kumeu section is planned to start in February 2019 and finish in February 2021.

To make the road more forgiving if people make mistakes, we’ll make these improvements:

  • Install flexible road safety barriers to catch vehicles before they hit something harder like trees, poles, ditches or other vehicles.
  • Add extra lanes between Brigham Creek and Taupaki roundabout (four lanes, two in each direction) to help maintain travel times in the short-term, ahead of a longer term Supporting Growth project looking at realigning the State Highway
  • Put in a flush median, which is a painted area in the middle of the road, to give drivers more room and a safe place to wait before turning without interrupting traffic flow.
  • Build a roundabout at the SH16/Coatesville Riverhead Highway intersection to help traffic flow and make it safer to turn.
  • Between Huapai and Waimauku, we will consider widening bridges that are too narrow and providing safe turnaround facilities at Foster, Station and Factory Roads.
  • Review speed limits along the route to determine what is safe and appropriate.
  • Create a two-metre wide road shoulder so there’s more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Improvements on this stretch of road are long overdue. As the press release notes, this road has a poor safety record and so it’s good to finally see some improvements. The section of road between Brigham Creek and Coatesville Riverhead Highway has seen significant growth in the last few years since the motorway was extended to Brigham Creek and the growth in housing, as shown below. It is now one of, if not the busiest State Highway in the country that isn’t already a motorway. It’s busier most of the non-Auckland Roads of National Significance and about twice as busy as any of the RoNS 2.0 that National pushed during the election, and again in recent weeks. As such, the extra lanes on parts of the route should be useful, even if in the morning peak they’ll just help traffic get to the end of the motorway queue a bit faster.

Is suspect a key reason it wasn’t upgraded sooner were simply the optics towards the rest of the country of funding another Auckland project. That and the ultimate goal being to extend the motorway as a bypass Kumeu/Huapai – as set out in the future growth projects.  The map below is shows the high level projects on the future growth plans and clearly (#3) shows the bypass of the existing route. It also earmarks the existing route (#12) to get safety improvements.

These are the sorts of changes would be ideal for RoNS 2.0 that National was/is pushing and could apply to a lot of other roads around New Zealand too.

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25 comments

  1. Would be great if the bus services were upgraded for these parts too. Waimauku still has a lousy 2 hour frequency most of the the day, plus the last bus leaves Westgate around 8pm, so you have to leave the city on the 110 around 7-7:30pm to reach it in time, plus the timings are so awful, you have to wait 21 minutes at Westgate for the connection. So much for a “new” and “connected” bus network.

    It was promised on the RPTP that both the 122 and 125 routes would have hourly frequency, so Huapai would have 30 min frequency and Waimaku/Helensville/Parakai hourly. Yet they decided to halve that obviously to save money or something… not cool.

    The buses seem fairly busy, most of the day the buses are quite full with people (seated, not standing of course), but if it had the RPTP promised level of frequency I could see it being a more popular option and likely having more people.

    Also many of the interim stops were closed for “safety reasons” even though they were probably some of the safer stops – meanwhile there are still a bunch of rather dangerous or hidden (i.e. signage behind bushes or power poles) stops that are still active.

  2. The main reason this route is so busy is the higher number of people living out there and the significant lack of public transport options. But we should still rectify the biggest safety concerns. I find it strange that the Coatesville Highway intersection has not been upgraded to roundabout yet (given it used to be part of the former SH 18 route).

      1. I think the state highway 18 designation got stripped from the Coatesville Highway around 1992 or 1993. Not sure if it was then immediately applied to the Upper Harbour Highway/ Hobsonville Rd route, that might not have occurred until the Upper Harbour Interchange replaced the traffic lights at Sunset Rd in 1994.

  3. All the proposed changes look sensible / reasonable value, but I feel there’s a missed opportunity for better cycling / walking. The press release describes a “two-metre wide road shoulder so there’s more space for pedestrians and cyclists” which will probably make things better for road cyclists out for a weekend training ride, but does nothing to convince locals moving into the new subdivisions that they could jump on their bike for a 15 min ride to the local shops in Kumeu or at Westgate, especially if they must contend with a probable 80+ km/h speed limit. This is the time to put in an off-road 2-way shared path between Brigham Creek and Kumeu/Huapai: with the road and possibly property boundaries are being changed anyway it can be done much cheaper and with less disruption now than in the the future. With relatively few intersections/driveways and State Highway rules making it hard to add more, a shared path should be fine.

    1. Yes building a cycle way off the road would certainly be more appealing to cyclists, be safer and quite importantly – cheaper!

    2. Yep agree – a 2m wide shoulder will do little to attract cyclists as they are usually just littered with stones and truck tyre pieces from blow-outs. having a separated area would be ideal, and maybe less $$ as it won’t be constructed to SH road standards.

      1. The 2 m shoulder isn’t for cyclists, that’s greenwash. It’s all for motorists. You need a 2m shoulder when you have a median barrier so that vehicles can pass breakdowns.

  4. Given that this area is zoned for development, the housing shortage and the governments policy to build 100,000 houses, getting infrastructure built in this area should be a priority.

    Would it make sense to get on with the (3) bypass now, and simply reduce the speed limit on the existing road to make it safe, rather than spending any more money on it?

  5. Plans should also be made by NZTA and AT to build a large park and ride at Kumeu which could be served by bus services along SH16 and with an ADL rail shuttle service between Henderson and Kumeu, to help ease congestion on SH16 and provide a safer travel option into the city. Just upgrading the State Highway will only make using a car more attractive and just result in more congestion.

    The train service would be best as the railway is already there and trains don’t get stuck in the road congestion like buses do. With the Government having already announced an $800m upgrade to the North Auckland Line, an extension of suburban rail services to Kumeu should be included in this project.

  6. When you can be so confident of substantial future growth a good ambitious plan now makes sense. They need three interacting plans (1) improve rail (2) dedicated cycle / pedestrian paths (3) bigger better roads.
    My point is cycling and walking need not be adjuncts to roads – in a perfect world new roads and convert most of the existing roads to being pleasantly wide cycleways.
    When I last worked in Kumeu about 8 years ago the main road ran through the middle of a pleasant village – crossing the road from one side to the other was a brave act for a pedestrian. It will only get worse so build a bypass or ring-road and convert the main road into pedestrian.
    Rail may or may not take off but it is surely essential that land is reserved for double tracks and potential combined railway / bus station with large car park and good access. OK may never be needed but please avoid repeating the dumb failure to plan for a possible future (I’m thinking 2 lane bottlenecks on SH1 and lack of parking at the Northern Busway stops and 150 years of failure to invest in railways)

    1. How is there a lack of parking at Northern busway stations? There is enough for 1% of all people on the shore to park a car at the station. The parking is too cheap, not too scarce.

      1. Don’t forget SB most people have no concept of the either the time value of money or the limits on government budgets (except in a tangential way when complaining about rates at the same time as wanting more and more expenditure).

        TLDR: four lane roads and parking cost a lot of money. Spending all that money up for low return infrastructure means there is no money for anything else.

        1. I don’t use these motorways or busways during the busy periods and I am a taxpayer so I do pay for those who do use them.
          Reasonable planning is to build 4 lanes but plan for 6 meaning reserving the land and building excessively wide bridges. They did do that in some places but simply under-planned in others. Adding extra lanes to SH1 has been rather expensive in some places but not so expensive in others.
          I accept SB may be right about the excessive number of car parks since I just about never use the busway however I am told by reliable sources that they have trouble parking a reasonable distance from some bus stops after 7am. And I’m happy to concur that user pays ought to apply to car parks – makes far more sense than applying it to buses where making rides free increases use and thus reduces congestion (good for the economy especially when applied to delivery vehicles). Again my point is plan for the future and success – so reserve large areas of land for potential car parking and if it is not needed and the car parks never extended then chose to sell it for other purposes.
          Upgrading the road to Huapai deserves some confident planners – save money by building the cycle and pedestrian paths first not make them parasitic on road-building.

          1. Upgrade parts of the Kumeu showgrounds to all weather parking. Be a great little money spinner for them, and help attract more events to the grounds.

  7. Yup this is a lot better than a RONS gold plated expressway only half the length or less that comes to an abrupt end. Sounds like PT frequency could be improved though.

  8. Kemeu is same distance from city as Manakau (both around 21km). So it makes sense to grow Auckland to the west and infrastructure with it. But needs good PT like rail and regular buses.
    Not sure a bypass is needed for a while but would make getting to Muriwai faster. (Better not promote that idea or it will be labelled the surf holiday highway!)

  9. $53M is a lot to spend For interim measures. I have lived in Waimauku for 25yrs and suffered the near continuous upgrades to the roads all the way to the city. Commutes become quicker just after each opens then it gets worse again. Then another ‘safety’ project launches and so on. It’s time to break this wash, rinse repeat cycle. Leave the road as it is and invest in tapping the unused capacity in the rail corridor, PT & cycling. The road users will adapt.

  10. You can build all the road improvements you like, and they are essential, but as long as the North Western Motorway is blocked for three hours every rush hour, people aren’t going to be able to get to and from Kumeu/Huapai any quicker than they are at present. I don’t know why they are starting the Waimauku bit first, because that stretch of road is pretty quiet. What is urgently needed is to (a) get a rail service to Kumeu/Huapai — that should be the easy bit (b) build proper bus lanes on the North Western Motorway, even if it means cutting into the precious third lanes just built and (c) upgrade the Brighams Creek to Kumeu/Huapai road to expressway standards. The first two should take absolute priority and could be done very quickly.

  11. The roundabouts already in place around this area already make it a traffic nightmare. Engineering 101, don’t place a roundabout where there is a large dominant flow, unless of course you decide on making it a signalled roundabout.

    Otherwise this stretch of road is in need of an upgrade. And is in a good position for Auckland Greenfield development. Also has a handy Rail along this route which would be the logical future Rapid Transport choice.

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