Building motorways never fix congestion
Auckland is about to endure a very expensive lesson (in the sum of $2 billion) on why building motorways is never the answer to fixing congestion.
From the NZ Herald:
Warning: Waterview tunnel will open to gridlock
By Michael Sergel, Bernard Orsman
Significant delays, or even gridlock, are predicted when traffic lights are installed to enter Auckland’s $1.4 billion Waterview tunnel connection project.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has revealed that motorists will have to queue at ramp signals when the giant Northwestern and Southwestern motorway connection opens in April.
At the Waterview end, ramp signals will operate on both ramps into the tunnel, and on the longer east-bound ramp out of the tunnel. Motorists won’t have to wait at lights heading west out of the tunnel.
Signals will operate at the Mt Roskill end of the tunnel, including the on-ramp at Maioro St.
Waterview is New Zealand’s largest roading project costing $1.4 billion. An extra $600 million is being spent on widening the Northwestern Motorway and raising the marine causeway to cope with extra traffic heading to and from the tunnels.
……..Transport blogger Patrick Reynolds said the purpose of the western ring route was to provide free-flowing traffic but it had been badly designed and would open to gridlock.
“The reason for that is because of the failure to build parallel rapid transit. There is no busway,” Reynolds said.
But NZTA Auckland highway manager Brett Gliddon said the signals will be able to control traffic through the tunnel in both directions.
Delays caused by traffic signals will be offset by major improvements to travel times and traffic flows.
“When the Waterview connection opens, as part of the wider western ring route, it will be a significant step in transforming the way people and freight move around New Zealand and Auckland,” he said.
“The western ring route will support movements around the city and Auckland’s growth and help provide a better balance of traffic flows across Auckland’s state highway and local road network.”
Gliddon said completing the connection will allow more cars to travel on motorways, and reduce the number of cars on local roads.
“It is not a means of removing congestion altogether, especially in peak periods, which is no different to other major cities across the world.”
So the project fails before it even opens due to:
- Inadequate ventilation (it is not designed to cope if traffic comes to a complete standstill (as often happens on the motorway network))
- No North Western Busway from Waterview Interchange to Westgate to allow rapid movement of busses
- No rail or bus way to the Airport
It seems the old route of using State Highways 1 and 16 via the City Centre will be faster to get from Papakura to Te Atatu and back again if signals will be backing up traffic trying to enter the Waterview tunnels.
While a freight train removes 100 trucks off the road and a bus (double decker) will take around 100 cars off the road.
A very expensive lesson from NZTA and the National Government.