Yesterday opposition transport spokesperson Judith Collins continued her recent focus on the Mill Road project:

It isn’t that surprising for her to focus on this project, as it cuts right through her Papakura electorate and provides something of a contrast between the previous government’s focus on roads and the new government’s broader approach to transport investment priorities.

We have written extensively about the Mill Road project in the past, including Harriet’s look at how we could rethink it recently. In short, it’s a billion dollar plus semi-motorway that is supposed to enable sprawl in this southern part of Auckland. Its northern end destroys some important bush area while it will also need to cut a swathe through the eastern part of Papakura in its efforts to provide another north-south corridor between Manukau and Drury.

There is a case for new and upgraded roads to be built as this part of Auckland grows over the coming decades, and our argument has never been that nothing at all needs to happen along this corridor. However, as the image above suggests, what is being proposed here is essentially a duplicate of the Southern Motorway – as massive roading project that belongs to a past age, not to Auckland’s future. Just take a look at the proposed roundabout that’s right next to a school:

Good luck to the children who might expect to walk to that school in the future without being hit by a high-speed car as they scurry across this road.

In fact, it is this very intersection of Mill Road and Alfriston Road that appears to be the source of the current problems being faced on Mill Road that are highlighted by Judith Collins’s tweet. If you take a look at Google congestion data for the very time she took that photo, just after 7am on a Monday morning, you can see the traffic backed up from here.

Further north, where the fancy viaducts and huge sweeping semi-motorway are proposed, there are no problems at all.

My guess is that we see a lot of the following:

  • Quite a lot of westbound traffic along Alfriston Road either continues straight ahead (towards the Hill Rd motorway onramp) or turns right to head north towards Totara Park.
  • Hardly any traffic is heading southbound at this time of day, so the westbound traffic on Alfriston Road hardly ever has to stop and give way…
  • Which means that northbound traffic on Mill Road hardly ever gets a gap and therefore banks back substantially.

This made me wonder whether a pretty simple fix, like turning the current roundabout into a signalised intersection, might help. Aside from their horrific impacts on pedestrian safety, roundabouts work best when the demand on each leg of the intersection is fairly similar, which is likely not going to be the case here.

Signalising this intersection and giving more priority to traffic heading north is likely to fix this problem almost immediately. Furthermore, the green on Mill Road further north suggests that this section of road has plenty of capacity to handle the greater throughput from such a change without any major issues.

It’s always frustrating how small improvements are overlooked in favour of massive roading projects. We saw the same thing with Puhoi-Warkworth and with the East West Link. In all these cases there are legitimate issues to fix, but the obvious small improvements that could make a huge impact are overlooked in favour of massive spends.

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73 comments

    1. Flying saucers that whizz above cars is the answer. What a waste of space, saucers can be parked by parking on top of Auckland Council expensive Towers, that would be a more efficient use of space than those well paid humanoids inside the tower.

  1. Or we could simply offer the Dominion Road Flyover free to a good home. Jetsons ramp for removal… need a couple of trucks on a quiet night…

  2. They never fix up intersections on routes where they want to build a massive ego project. They need the existing to be as bad as it possibly can be in order to make the B/C ratio look better. Just look at that intersection in Warkworth.

      1. And the fact Neilson Street has barely ever had an upgrade despite there being heaps of room for more lanes. They could probably fix the SH20 bottleneck for ~$10 million if spent wisely.

        1. Turn it into a bigger car park. Induce more demand.

          Fundamental more road driven solutions to congestion simply induce more demand. Particular along key corridors like Neilson St.

          Much of the congestion west-bound on Neilson St is because of the single lane SH20 onramp capacity both north and south bound.

          There is no easy solution to this with new roads or faster roads. Fundamentally faster roads are an oxymoron at peak traffic. They simple drive the congestion elsewhere.

          So we have the induce traffic from Waterview southbound on SH20 past Onehunga. If we speed up the arrival rate of traffic along Neilson St. Then the Neilson St traffic can’t get faster onto or through SH20.

          Like a dam the traffic will just pool behind the bottleneck faster and we flood the surrounding streets as people look for alternative routes.

          The ONLY solution is MASS transit. A lane that carries 3000 cars or maybe 3500 people an hour at peak, can carry 18,000+ people in mass transit.

    1. Exactly mfwic. We are seeing this in Wellington now, with the Inner-city bypass and Basin Reserve conundrum. Avoid doing anything which might improve the current situation quickly and cheaply, as this will reduce the “justification” for the unnecessary grandiose scheme they really want to build.

  3. Collins’ tweet says “This is the alternative way from Drury, Pukekohe, Papakura North when the Southern Motorway is in gridlock.”
    And yet the congestion map in the post shows no issues on the Southern Motorway. Shouldn’t we also be asking why these cars aren’t using the Southern?

    1. If you look further south on Google Maps you’ll understand that the Southern Motorway from Takinini north is relatively congestion free because immediately to the south it’s completely [email protected] by the current construction works and this is acting like a giant signalised on-ramp. As soon as these works are finished the status quo gridlock will return.

      Actually, I’d guess that the congestion on Mill Road is mostly due to motorists trying to avoid these motorway works.

      1. And the motorway widening was supported by her government who at the time favoured spending twice as much on extra motorway lanes and a larger Takinini interchange rather than electrifying Papakura-Pukekohe and building a Drury station. This was also supported by Hunua MP Andrew Bayly.

        1. National’s Andrew Bayly is still hard out pushing for the Mill Road expressway project to be extended from Drury to Pukekohe.

          There are better options such as creating a new north-south State Highway out of Auckland to the south between Wiri and Bombay via Pukekohe and a new (long proposed) bridge between Weymouth and Karaka Point with using existing roads upgraded to State Highway standard.

          A new north-south local through road with cycle lanes could also be built between Papakura and Drury with extending Marne Road south from Papakura along the eastern side of the railway line through to Sutton Road and onwards south from the level crossing through to the intersection of Fitzgerald Road and Waihoehoe Road in Drury.

          In Drury a new large park and ride and rail station could be built on Flanagan Road next to the State Highway 1 / 22 Drury motorway interchange, which would link with the proposed new local through road mentioned above, as well as being in full view and easy to access from the motorway and Great South Road – ideal for those commuting in from further afield from the south.

          1. I don’t much is needed to be done with SH 22 except it to be safer, realigning the highway to make it straighter and upgrading some of the intersections (including the link to Waiuku). I cannot see the need (at present) for an expressway. I do see a need for electrification to Pukekohe and stations at Drury and Paerata.

          2. Robin – Yeh sure – a good way to throw away a few billion dollars on highway projects!!!

    2. Presumably they’re headed to Pakuranga etc. It may come as a surprise to you (and possibly to Collins) that her constituents actually have a very logical reason to go that way.

      Yes it does follow that traffic gets backed up along the road that travels past Murphy’s Bush at around 5pm. The hill may complicate this section.

      1. Where’s Sailor Boy – he can usually easily produce the travel statistics between places in each part of the city. The red line past the Botanic Gardens would suggest to me that a fair bit of it must still be joining the Southern Motorway. Poor people.

        1. There is definitely a commuter flow from Papakura-ish to meshblocks I think qualify as “East” Auckland, but not as many as I expected. I’d say a lot less except (a) I find it difficult to be systematic year and (b) this data is five years old now.

          Highbrook which kind of counts insofar as Google Maps is telling me using Mill Road is credible from a “rational” point of view (although from the two addresses I tried not the best) gets a lot of traffic.

          Presumably there are more motorway/Manukau people than I assumed, but it does depend where they live of course… why spend time driving sideways? That just seems like a waste of time, especially if it’s saving you less than 10 minutes.

          1. Yes I think Papakura & esp East Papakura is pretty east of the southern motorway so with current Takanini section road works it’s a temporary overload along here. I think it needs to be reassessed after the SH1 works are done. Went this way the other weekend last Sat afternoon just to familiarise my self with the road/area, for the fun of the drive & partly to avoid the motorway queue on a hot summer day. Was pretty busy but moving well at that time, had a car with trailer in front. That viaduct area planned sure is quite steep down and up more than I had remembered. With that development area put on hold further south, I think just cheaper fixes are the way to go for quite some time.

  4. Collins is a disgrace, you just have to read the nastiness she exudes on her facebook feed whenever she brings up Mill Road, which seems to be every few days.

    Of all the people who could have been chosen as National’s transport spokespeople, why her? Ward councillor Daniel Newman also joined her side and continued to reiterate a lot of her nonsense and anti light rail sentiments.

    1. National, from its new leader downwards, have very little understanding of transport matters. What understanding they do have is extremely superficial and is also heavily influenced by road transport interest-groups.

      That Simon Bridges should appoint Judith Collins of Opposition Transport Spokesperson comes as no surprise. Neither have any meaningful experience in this field at all.

      Bridges virtually admitted this himself in a Q+A with Julie Anne Genter while he was still Minister of Transport:
      https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/HansS_20170622_051750000/5-roading-auckland-east-west-link

      Nine years under the previous National government simply further-entrenched the problem of excessive dependence on roads. It did nothing to solve this problem.

  5. Lets not build an expensive road (Mill Road) to offer an alternative to motorists trying avoid using a different expensive road (Southern Motorway).

    This corridor is used by a lot of people based in Takanini/Papakura as a route to access Manukau/Botany/East Tamaki and Ormiston areas.

    Trains from Papakura are decent if you’re going to the city or somewhere directly along the southern line.
    Transferring to a bus at Manukau to then reach the south eastern areas will hopefully improve with the new bus depot. But the south and east areas are lacking bus priority, so buses will continue to be under-utilised until thats fixed too.

  6. This probably isn’t the best way for National to grow their young / urban vote count. What kind of future do they have without it?

  7. So will help if you are going to Alfriston Road, or Murphys Rd (at top middle of map – need to extend right turn queue area?). Otherwise the queue at Everglade Dr gets longer. In the evening, queue at Cosgrave Rd gets longer, but good if you are heading to north of Clevedon Rd.

  8. A signalised intersection here must be safer for the school children than either the proposed Mill Rd project or the current situation. I don’t know the development planned for the area, but are AT putting in safe walkways and cycleways through all the farmland that is shown on Google Maps?

  9. Maybe whoever wrote this needs to look at the AUP. Once they do that they will see the volume of growth that Collins and the MRC Project anticipate. The Southern Motorway is gridlocked from 6:30am from Drury to the City and it’s only going to get worse. The south needs a secondary arterial.

    1. The AUP should never have included that sprawl, agreed. That growth should be accommodated in our already large city.

      More roading capacity = more traffic. The last thing the south needs is a secondary arterial. It will consign Aucklanders to even more car dependency. There’ll be more neighbourhoods ruined by people from the outskirts driving through. More people from the outskirts having to have long, emotionally and socially damaging commutes.

      Instead, more people can be accommodated without less traffic, indeed with a drop in traffic. Have a look at Seattle as an example. What is required for Auckland is investment in alternative transport modes. We have a big catch-up to do after decades of road investment.

      1. The growth needs a transport solution to be in place prior to the building of more houses at Pokeno and Wesley College’.

    2. A second arterial still isn’t the answer. Like the motorway it will just fill up and become equally dysfunctional in a matter of months.

      The purpose of this highway isn’t supposed to be a bypass of the Southern Motorway but a residential distributor route.

      This is why National’s election pledge to make the route a state highway is totally absurd

          1. so we should just keep developing more areas and not build any more roads? Obviously it needs to take into account all modes, but over a certain distance you get diminishing returns. Most people need a car. I know this blog thinks that’s ridiculous but unfortunately that is the fact. There is no alternative and once you get out in these remoter areas public transport, cycles, segways or scooters aren’t even viable.

          2. Most people need a car, true, but not for their regular commute. New roads are sometimes warranted but building new motorways in an attempt to alleviate congestion almost never works- look at the Waterview tunnels (travel times now back up to what they were before the tunnels were built)
            http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/02/why-auckland-s-traffic-just-keeps-getting-worse.html
            Or the new Kapiti Expressway in Wellington, which has seen travel times increase
            https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/90938322/motorists-say-kapiti-expressway-has-made-commute-into-wellington-twice-as-long

            If new housing developments are being planned that is absolutely the time to plan decent public transport links. And why do you say “once you get out in these remoter areas public transport… aren’t even viable.”? Elsewhere on this thread you are advocating for heavy rail from Hamilton…

          3. I don’t think people on the NW are sitting in traffic for fun. If PT was a realistic option for them then they’d probably be using it.

  10. This seems to be a similar situation to the whitford road/somerville road intersection. This was addressed via a setback traffic light on somerville road that is normally green (allowing off peak flows as normal) but changes during peak flows. I think this is a relatively elegant solution as opposed to fully signalising the roundabout and ruining the flow during an off peak time. In fact when it was installed I think the area was part of Judiths electorate. For the cost of one or two traffic lights it must be worth an attempt.

    1. An even better idea.
      I spent some time at this school, and remember the road before there was a roundabout. Bad crashes.

    2. Some infra designed specifically for the children would be good. Crossings on desire lines, connecting the school to cycling and walking paths in each direction. I won’t hold my breath.

  11. If you chose to live that far out, and continue to need to commute all the way in, that was your choice. Although choosing where to live is not exactly easy these days, I am sure than many of these stuck in 7.05am Crusher traffic have made “lifestyle” choices. When I go to my family’s beach house, I have to put up with all of them, and I accept that, as I am crossing their territory, but to complain when invading another’s area is bad manners. And I for one want my damn trolleys Judith, I want them 70 years ago, when your grandfather most likely ripped them out of the ground. Fluff off to Jakarta if you want some proper traffic to complain about!

    1. “choose”

      Probably false presumption that people are commuting to the city (that route awkwardly reaches Manukau being pretty much a direct line to the so-called “East” Auckland).

      Why do people have it in their heads that Papakura is some bastion of millionaires? The Spinoff has exactly the same VERY wrong impression.

      1. You make a fair point, I didn’t mean to imply that (except directly to Judith). And if they are not invading my territory I apologise for my allegation. I am also way off topic so sorry about that too.

    2. a lot of my mates are moving to pokeno and even Hamilton just to be able to afford a house and the commute each day, the roading network is a joke. why don’t they sack the stupid dominion trams and invest in heavy rail for passengers from Hamilton direct to Britomart. That would be a great investment

      1. The government are looking into Hamilton to Auckland intercity rail.

        But that still doesn’t negate the need for LRT in suburban Auckland

    3. Heaven forbid anyone not being a middle class engineer/IT contractor who lives on a Link bus route. It’s OK, I hate poor people too.

  12. heading south there in the evenings, google maps/waze often suggests a ‘shortcut’ via ranfurly road to approach the roundabout from the west giving you precedence ahead of the mill rd southbound queue.

    Traffic lights would help with that too.

  13. Is there somewhere near Takanini or Papakura train stations that they could squeeze in a park and ride? Like Albany these would appear to be excellent catchment areas where other public transport is not an efficient option. Surely a lot less expensive than a destructive and pointless roading fantasy?

    1. Albany is hardly excellent given with thousands of car park space it is already over capacity very early in the morning. Most of the demand could resolved by better feeder buses, hopefully which will be addressed when the New Network for the North is rolled out.

      Papakura likewise would be better served with better feeders to its station

      1. I agree, I just wonder if the dispersion of the population in these areas makes feeders of limited use. Or build a park and ride at the end of the feeder? Whatever it takes to introduce these drivers to the nirvana that is reading a book on public transport.

      2. Alex F, AT are not even on the same planet as you and I. One of the plans for Albany is to build a multi storey car park. They are obsessed it seems with parking buildings and it doesn’t matter what their parking strategy says they will do what they want, if the Takapuna fiasco is anything to go by.

        Yes feeder buses are a great idea.

        Pricing is also a great idea.

        Here’s what the strategy says about park and ride
        “From a market and product perspective, the
        introduction of pricing could provide the opportunity
        to introduce new products such as leased spaces at
        key Park and Ride facilities to meet targeted demands.
        Pricing could also provide a user pay contribution
        toward the cost of capital and operating expenditure.”

        A parking building at Albany will cost about $25 million for the 400 hundred odd people who will get to use it – generally only one fill each day.

        Park and ride is the worst of all possible solutions I would have thought. The very first message that it sends is, live as far as you like from the transport corridor; we (AT) will make life as easy as we can by letting you drive to the doorstep of the bus stop; and don’t worry about that trip clogging the corridors to the park and ride we have that covered too; and there is no need for the family to car pool because we are going to provide a space for the wife and kids as well; and if you are just coming from up the road who cares you can park here too.

        These park and rides must be the least efficient way of boosting PT patronage that AT can think of and yet they persist.

        The thing that really grates is that AT will spend $25 million (plus all the other items referred to above) for 400 people, and that is $25 million that they cannot spend on everyone else.

    2. Locals, including the Papakura Local Board, have long been calling for AT to build a new rail station at Walters Road in Takanini, which is a main arterial road through this area linking Great South Road and Mill Road and is right next to the Southgate and Takanini Village shopping centres and the massive new Addison housing estate. Walters Road is an ideal place for a station midway between the current long distance between Papakura and Takanini stations.

      A large park and ride really needs to be built with a new rail station on Flanagan Road in Drury next to the SH1 / SH22 Drury motorway interchange where commuters coming in from further afield from the south could easily park and catch a train into the city from.

      1. Close the park and ride at Papakura after building park and rides at Te Hihi and Clevedon with bus links through Papakura Station. Then build shops and accommodation over the station.
        Do not add another station to slow the journey, Takanini is in the right place. Redesign the bus link there so that there are at least bus shelters before this winter’ Better still remove the parking on the rail land and make it an integrated mode change.

  14. An even cheaper solution would be to put a single set of traffic lights at the entrance to the roundabout from Alfriston Road to stop that flow every so often – and keep the roundabout. They do this a lot in Britain.

    1. peak hour only traffic light controlled roundabout. Off peak the lights are off and it’s a plain roundabout so no unnecessary delay.

      1. Good idea. That’s got to be pretty cheap to do, and if it doesn’t work, take the lights out and use them elsewhere

  15. fantastic to see steven joyce has just resigned from parliament. Maybe now evem national can move into the 21st century

    1. I think Joyce was already in the 22nd century where all cars are automated and magically take up no space on the road.

    2. Agreed. National’s Minister of Road Transport, who among many other things, stopped a prime opportunity for Christchurch to develop a new suburban rail system and light rail network with the Christchurch rebuild following the Canterbury Earthquakes.

  16. its not enabling sprawl as you note. it is facilitating increased development that the PAUP and the labour led Auckland Council has allowed/enabled.

        1. Frank, are you taking the opportunity in your submission about the Auckland Plan to say that affordable homes are needed in Auckland, not Pokeno? And that we need apartments throughout the isthmus – Council-built if necessary – to increase the density of existing areas so that public transport can be improved? And that they shouldn’t be putting in more sprawl on the outskirts because it’ll just induce more traffic and make travel times worse everywhere? You’re right that rail would be far better than more roads. Council can only make the right decisions if they get this feedback.

          If you’ve got the energy, do you want to organise some community meetings about it? That’s what I’ve spent my day doing. Because most people just don’t get the links between affordable housing, congestion, sprawl, ability to access the city, and intergenerational inequity, but once it’s been explained, it doesn’t take long to see the big picture.

  17. Roundabout works best on low traffic streets.
    On heavy traffic arterial roads, they are inefficient and cause signification congestion.

    Look at Royal Oak, Panmure, Greenlane ramp. They are source of congestion.

    Albany roundtable used to be the source of congestion as well. Now they changed it to intersection.

    I am surprise roundabout still get built in the Hobsonville motoway on ramps. I believe they would eventually need to be replaced by intersections as more people live there.

  18. I live in the northern end of this Mill Road project area (goodwood drive). Every morning, the traffic is backed up on redoubt road going back to god knows where but it always blocks me coming out of goodwood drive to get onto redoubt road. The buses don’t run on goodwood drive. It would be very nice if it could once the new manukau station opens. This whole south-eastern region is in dire need of public transport. I’ve always thought that in another world and a different dimension, that we could put another rail line down parallel to Mill road out in the farmland areas (now but urban sprawl in future) and going through Ormiston and then up Te Irirangi to Pakuranga. At least then development will focus around the rail line instead of Mill Road (which is what NZTA are clearly intending).

    1. Light rail would be ideal for East Auckland with building a new light rail line between Panmure-Pakuranga-Botany-Manukau using Lagoon Drive, Pakuranga Road, Ti Rakau Drive, Te Irirangi Drive, Great South Road, Ronwood Ave and Davies Ave, along with a line from Pakuranga to Howick along Pakuranga Road and Ridge Road.

      AT and the Government should seriously look into light rail in this part of Auckland instead of building a busway, as a light rail service would have far greater appeal than buses.

      1. Yes for most of your light rail route, but Queens Rd to to Kerswill Place is a route that would provide much more close customers including a primary school.. It also has a potential for a light-rail/cycle only bridge over the Tamaki River with minimal effect on existing roading or houses, unlike Ameti . continuing the elevation of Queens Road with an elevated light rail line along Pakuranga Road and onto Te Rakau across the Waipuna Bridge intersection would provide a dedicated light rail route clear of the worst congestion at Pakuranga (and must be more cost-effective than any Reeves Rd flyover from Waipuna Bridge).

  19. Mill Rd is the stupidest project ever. It will just get people quicker to the back of the long queue at the motorway. That’s it. Otherwise, it’s not needed at all.

  20. The Judith Collins proposal is very light on how this motorway/arterial will pass through Papakura.
    As I see it there will be a major disconnection between the East of Papakura and it’s schools. The proposed road through the peat land from Alfriston has not taken any additional width yet they are permitting more housing to restrict that land acquisition. It would seem that those parents currently delivering their children to Alfriston School by car are going to have a lot of fun when they do the school run.
    The plans for the swamp area show bike lanes but no bus stops from Alfriston to Old Wairoa Road. all seemingly fitted within the present road reserve.
    The intersection plan at Alfriston has no provision for cycle lanes or pedestrian crossings. (All of these points were addressed in submissions a couple of years ago but don’t seem to have been included.)
    The truck/quarry lobby are a major factor in the planning of this road. Their fifty tonne vehicles on these roads are a real frightener when the fail to give cyclists the 1.5metre space just as they do on the Great South Road at Slippery Creek Bridge.

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