NZ lane control trial


Auckland Transport is extending the operation of dynamic lanes on Whangaparaoa Road during the afternoon peak by an hour from 4pm to 7pm from late February

NZ lane control trial
Auckland Transport will continue to operate dynamic lanes on Whangaparaoa Road and investigate its introduction in other parts of Auckland

 

At present the hours are 4pm to 6pm. The dynamic lane concept, similar to tidal flow lanes, uses the existing road network more efficiently for the movement of people and vehicles. It makes use of traffic control devices and an adaptive LED light system to create an extra lane for vehicles travelling in the peak direction.

Data collected since the start of the trial on 24 January has shown a positive improvement to the PM peak traffic flow on Whangaparaoa Road. Travel times have reduced and there is less queuing on Hibiscus Coast Highway which is also having a positive impact on the flow of traffic heading towards Orewa.

Randhir Karma, Group Manager Network Management and Safety at Auckland Transport says he is particularly pleased with the level of understanding drivers are demonstrating with this new system, which is a key success indicator for the trial.

"Extending the PM peak duration will allow us to get the most value out of the system, particularly as we approach March when congestion throughout Auckland is at its highest level."

Karma says the system is still being trialled and further changes are possible.

"Our principle goal with this trial is to ensure that the system operates as we expect it to, not only in terms of driver behaviour but also the infrastructure and back-end technology which makes it possible."

"Driver behaviour has been generally excellent, the start and end transition areas have operated smoothly.

"Road users have largely demonstrated a high level of confidence and understanding of how the system works.

"Observations of the system to date indicate that increased gaps have been provided, managing concerns for right turning vehicles along the trial area and for pedestrians to cross.

"The period before 6pm experienced free flow conditions while after 6pm vehicle flow quickly changed to a continuous line of slow moving traffic."

The start of the AM peak trial is still set to commence from April 18. Although the impact on morning peak travel times is not expected to be as significant as the afternoon peak, due to there being only one existing left turn lane as well as Auckland bound queuing on Hibiscus Coast Highway, some improvement is expected.

"To help with the morning peak flow on Whangaparaoa Road, work is being done to enable left turn movement from the traffic lights at the Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection. However, we don’t expect the improvement to travel times to be as obvious as during the afternoon peak."

If the trial is successful Auckland Transport will continue to operate dynamic lanes on Whangaparaoa Road and investigate its introduction in other parts of Auckland.

 

New innovation

The 12-month dynamic lane control trial runs along Whangaparaoa Road in the area between Hibiscus Coast Highway and Red Beach Road.

The dynamic lane control system uses LED lights embedded into the road surface to mark traffic lanes instead of painted lines. Changing these LED lights is a quick and safe way to create a temporary lane during heavy congestion and ensure free traffic flow.

Traffic control gantries will also display clearly which lanes drivers should use.

Dynamic lane control systems have been trialled in cities around the world to manage peak traffic flows. Similar systems are currently used in Auckland along the Panmure Bridge and Auckland Harbour Bridge. The system is quick to build and more cost-effective than road widening.

Safety is a key consideration and has been reflected in the design of the dynamic lane trial.

Auckland Transport will closely monitor the dynamic lanes for the duration of the trial and will make adaptive changes, such as to the phasing of signals at either intersection or the times when dynamic lanes are active, if warranted.

 

How it works

We selected Whangaparaoa Road for this trial because of its current configuration. It has one lane in either direction and a wide central median strip.

During afternoon peak traffic, the centre median strip turns into an additional traffic lane for peak traffic heading towards the Red Beach Road intersection.

The lanes are signalled by the in-road LED lights and signs on the overhead gantries.

The system has been designed to be highly visible to all road-users. In addition, the approach to the trial site will be well sign-posted with Variable Message Signs (VMS) showing that the dynamic lane is in operation and overhead gantry signs will inform drivers which lanes to use.

All side roads will also have signage approaching Whangaparaoa Road to remind drivers that dynamic lane controls are in operation.

 

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