Source: Auckland Council
Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board office was home to robust discussions this week around the Low Traffic Neighbourhood project in the Arthur-Grey area of Onehunga.
Waka Kotahi is funding a nationwide Innovating Streets initiative, including over 20 projects across Auckland. The Arthur Grey Low Traffic Area pilot project in Onehunga is a Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board project in partnership with Auckland Transport, Waka Kotahi and various external consultants.
Despite only being four weeks in, the project’s continuance is being called into question by board representatives from the Maungakiekie subdivision who believe that community sentiment calls for an immediate end of the trial due to disruptions to travel.
“We have received an overwhelming amount of feedback from the community wanting the trial stopped,” says Debbie Burrows, Deputy Chair of Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board.
“The community is telling us travel times are much longer under the trial and that they want other options considered to create safer roads. We did not understand that roads were to be closed as part of this trial and so are unable to continue to support the project, despite the fact that we are all supportive of safer and quieter neighbourhoods, the concerns of our communities are very loud and very clear and need to be addressed with urgency.”
Burrows sought immediate information around the financial implications should the project be stopped, and information around traffic calming alternatives, as well as timelines for changes.
Feedback received to date, via the project website akhaveyoursay.nz and a survey conducted on the streets, was presented at today’s meeting and the main themes for those that oppose the project include longer travel times, inconvenience and travel disruption, increased congestion, and a lack of project communication and awareness.
Those that support the project note they’re walking and cycling more, feel safer letting their kids walk to school and feel more connected to their neighbours and the community.
Auckland Transport presented interim quantitative data available to date, which showed that there is, as expected, “a reduction in traffic on roads in the trial area, and only been a 10 per cent increase on Mt Smart Road.”
Victoria St has seen no increase in volume but a slight increase in average speed suggesting it may be flowing better than before.
“Church Street and Mt Smart Roads are designed to move large quantities of traffic and statistically are safer to travel on because they sit higher on the road hierarchy than Arthur and Grey, however we will work with Waka Kotahi to gather additional data on peak travel times and find ways to streamline traffic flow through optimising traffic light movements,” explained Randhir Karma, Auckland Transport‘s Group Manager of Network Management and Safety.
“Data collected using road tube counters and traffic monitoring cameras shows that increases in congestion are within the expected fluctuations on the network at this time of year, and so appears to demonstrate that the changes are achieving the project’s objectives of reducing the number and speed of vehicles in this area.
“Historically, changes like this are felt most keenly by those who have previously used neighbourhood streets as a shortcut because being re-directed to arterial routes can increase their travel times. However, residential streets were not designed for large traffic numbers and those drivers need to use the arterial route more often as usual practice.”
“We, Auckland Transport and New Zealand as a whole can’t increase road capacity indefinitely, projects like this are needed to encourage people to use more active forms of transport otherwise as Auckland grows, so will our congestion problem,” says Karma.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are just one of many projects running across New Zealand aimed at long-term solutions to the increasing number of vehicles on New Zealand roads.
“The board is exploring with Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi what options there may be within the pilot scope to capture the benefits while reducing or eliminating the negative impacts being felt from the majority of those who have provided feedback,” explains Chris Makoare, Chair of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board.
The meeting adjourned with an agreement that more options and information be sourced so the current design can be modified, or the consequences of it being discontinued completely are known.
More information on this project including frequently asked questions, can be found at akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/arthur-grey-low-traffic-area