Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Transport officials make U-turn on give way sign

The westbound off-ramp at St Lukes Rd has been returned to a merging lane.
The westbound off-ramp at St Lukes Rd has been returned to a merging lane.

Transport officials have made a U-turn on a decision to change a merging lane on a busy Auckland offramp into a give way.

Frustrated drivers suddenly found themselves stuck in a queue for "no good reason at all", said one local politician.

About two months ago, the New Zealand Transport Agency changed the left-hand turn at the top of the SH16 westbound offramp into St Lukes Rd, near Motat, from a merge intersection to a give way.

The agency said the switch was designed to accommodate changes in traffic flows after the opening of the Waterview Connection early next year.

But the change left motorists fuming, because a previously free-flowing turn suddenly became jammed with traffic backing up down the offramp and on to the motorway.

Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said the Transport Agency shouldn't have tried to fix something which wasn't broken.

"You've got traffic backed up all the way down the off ramp which is very silly and people quickly got very annoyed about that - and quite rightly."

Haynes said the change added up to 10 minutes to his journey and admitted while that didn't sound like much, when the wait was "completely unnecessary" and could easily be fixed, it was very frustrating.

In an attempt to give people wanting to go left into St Lukes Rd, Haynes said workers had coned off part of the road to allow them more time to make the turn.

But the fact the give way sign was still there reduced the usefulness of the interim "road cone solution" as many people still obeyed the rule regardless of the opportunity in front of them to turn.

The Transport Agency's Auckland highways manager Brett Gliddon said he acknowledged "some of the sections of the interchange are not working as well as we expect them to when the Waterview Connection opens".

"We have listened to the feedback from our customers and are now making some immediate changes to improve the queues for motorists using the westbound offramp."

Gliddon said the free left turn into St Lukes Rd was being temporarily reinstated which will help traffic on the offramp and motorway exit lane flow more freely.

"Upgraded traffic signals will also be commissioned in the next couple of weeks which will make the traffic lights more adaptive to changing traffic flows and will create longer periods for traffic to turn left without having to merge with traffic from the overbridge."

A spokeswoman for the NZTA said costs to convert the intersection back to a free left turn were "minimal" and they would continue to monitor traffic flows now and when Waterview opens before deciding whether it returns to a give way or not.

After learning the Transport Agency was going to change the intersection back to a give way, Haynes said he was "delighted" and pleased they had changed their mind.

Auckland Transport did not respond to the Herald's request for comment.

- NZ Herald

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