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.