Yesterday opposition transport spokesperson Judith Collins continued her recent focus on the Mill Road project:
This is Mill Road at 7.05 am this morning. This is the alternative way from Drury, Pukekohe, Papakura North when the Southern Motorway is in gridlock. @PhilTwyford . This must take priority to the PM’s vanity trolley service up Dominion Rd. pic.twitter.com/DhRH27Ox2A
— Judith Collins (@JudithCollinsMP) March 5, 2018
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.