Auckand Transport and NZTA are seeking the Board’s land owner consent to remove 6 large pohutakawa trees at the intersection of Great North Road and St Lukes Road (opposite MOTAT) to provide for an additional lane for traffic approaching the west bound SH16 onramp.
At an all of Board workshop in August 2013 attended by officials from NZTA, Auckland Transport, Council parks officers and consultants to the project we discussed the reasons for widening the road and the proposed mitigation (the photo shows the trees currently and the same area in 5 years time).
My personal view is that the case for the widening has not been made. The modelling by NZTA and AT suggests the intersection will reach capacity by 2026 with delays of 7 minutes at the peak. However I am not satisfied that they are using the new EEM (economic modelling manual) from NZTA that states default traffic growth assumptions are no longer to be used and real evidence for their predictions must be produced.
“Discontinuation of a default traffic growth rate (travel demand predictions) – The current ‘default’ travel growth rates (1-3%) generally do not accurately reflect the current situation in New Zealand and we are discontinuing these. Funding applications will therefore be required to provide evidence that any assumption of the future growth is realistic.”
It is most likely that the 2026 numbers used to justify destroying the trees are based on an assumption that the traffic is going to grow. There are options available to NZTA and AT to provide the lanes required within the current road width which need to be pursued. The other option is to wait to see if the predictions are correct.
I am also not satisfied with the cycling facilities that have been proposed for the intersection. There are some improvements with an off road shared path across St Lukes bridge however the cycle lanes are not continuous nor safely connected to the existing network.