Sunday, December 3, 2023

Civil engineer questions Eastern Busway’s design

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Civil engineer Robert Finley opposes a plan to build a new intersection on Pakuranga Road. Times photo Wayne Martin

A civil engineer who worked on motorway projects in the UK is questioning aspects of the design of the Eastern Busway public transport project in east Auckland.

Howick man Robert Finley contacted the Eastern Busway Alliance earlier this year about an intersection being constructed outside Saint Kentigern College in Pakuranga.

It’s part of the Reeves Road Flyover and the larger busway project.

Finley’s email to the Alliance states he hasn’t seen a detailed plan of the flyover, “but what I have seen suggests eastbound traffic off the flyover arrives at a traffic light-controlled T-intersection” on Pakuranga Road.

“Currently, there are two major traffic lights for eastbound traffic off the arterial road: One at Ti Rakau Drive/Reeves Road and one at Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Highway.

“Under the new plan it appears while both of these will be eliminated, an extra set of lights will occur at Saint Kentigern [College].

“However, eastbound traffic from Panmure will now have an extra set of lights to traverse at this location, thus the net benefit of lights reduction is zero.”

Finley asks the Alliance why the flyover doesn’t continue onto and over the centre of the highway to allow the two streams of traffic to merge, as he assumes it will at the “arterial end”.

He got a response 12 working days later, along with a map of the proposed work and the new intersection being constructed opposite Saint Kentigern College, which says there’s no reduction in the number of traffic lights “in basic terms”.

“However, the overall efficiency of road network around Pakuranga has been improved with this new layout,” the Alliance told Finley.

“This has improved the reliability of buses getting through these intersections and onto the busway.

“The majority of vehicle movements are between Pakuranga Road and the South Eastern Highway (the Arterial Road).

“By removing these vehicles from the Ti Rakau/Reeves and Ti Rakau/Pakuranga Highway intersection, there is a reduction of the total number of vehicles, thus allowing changes to the phasing of these traffic signals to provide longer green time to other movements.”

Regarding Finley’s suggestion about the flyover continuing onto and over the centre of the highway, the Alliance told him: “The benefits to do this at the new intersection would be marginal and the costs would be excessive.”

“Traffic modelling of the proposed design has been completed for current traffic volumes plus future growth.

“This model informed the design and was included as part of the evidence of the consent hearings.”

Finley, a civil engineer, says he’s followed developments in public transport for decades and previously worked on motorway structures in the UK.

“I’ve travelled this particular piece of road [Pakuranga Road] regularly, although less frequently now, for 40 years.

“I’m particularly interested in the planning, or lack of, road developments.

“As an example, the concept of the Reeves Road Flyover is great, but spending $1 billion to delete two sets of traffic lights and then adding in a new one just takes the biscuit.”

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