Auckland Transport (AT) is proceeding with at least 28 raised pedestrian crossings as part of a $29.3 million cycling and road improvement project between Point Chevalier and Westmere.
Following revelations that crossings are costing up to $500,000 in some other projects, AT launched a review last month for opportunities to minimise the number and the cost of crossings.
On the Pt Chevalier/Meola Road/Westmere project, AT said 28 of the 29 raised crossings are proceeding unchanged, and just one crossing on Pt Chevalier Rd is being reviewed from a raised to a zebra crossing.
“Our review will carefully consider safety levels and performance,” AT said.
AT estimates the crossings in this particular project will cost between $19,000 and $31,000 each.
The 29 crossings are situated on main and side roads the length of the project - 15 on or near Pt Chevalier Rd, seven on or near Meola Rd, and seven on or near Garnet Rd.
Work on installing the crossings is due to begin after AT extended the closure of busy Meola Rd until the end of April after assuring residents before Christmas it would be “fully constructed” no later than last week when school and city-bound traffic was back in full swing.
AT said work to reconstruct an 840m section of Meola Rd is “substantially complete” and most of it is expected to be completed by the end of this week, aside from a 100m section near the old Meola Reef landfill where underlying ground issues require more repairs. AT said 740m of asphalt had nearly been finished.
The transport agency has decided to extend the closure to undertake work outside the repairs to Meola Rd, including a two-way, off-road cycleway, footpaths, stormwater drainage, underground power lines, lighting, and rebuilding driveways for residents, Motat and Seddon Fields.
Completing these works with the road closed, rather than a single lane and multiple stop/go closures means the Meola Rd works can be completed two months faster and save $400,000 in traffic management costs, AT said.
The project has strong support from community groups, including six local schools, business associations, Waitemata Local Board, and local councillor Mike Lee.
When Meola Rd remained closed after AT assured residents it would reopen last week, it led to traffic issues on side streets with one resident describing it as a “s..t show”.
Longtime Pt Chevalier resident Georgia Hill understood the need to upgrade and raise the road, built over an old rubbish tip, but was surprised with how narrow the new road was, and the removal of parking with the large number of people who use Seddon Fields sports grounds and the Meola Reef dog park.
“I cannot see any improvements from the works, only problems,” said Hill, adding that AT does not need to spend so much money on cycleways and pedestrian crossings.
AT has reduced the width of Meola Rd to one lane in each direction. A plan for Meola Rd in 2019 showed a flush median in the centre, but this has been abandoned for a narrower road in the latest plans.
The Herald measured the width of Meola Rd between the concrete kerb face at 6.5m wide and 5.85m wide at a pinch point between two catchpits.
AT’s director of infrastructure and place Murray Burt said that previously Meola Rd was 9.1m wide, and is now typically 7m wide, including 1.2m for the catchpits designed to take full traffic loadings.
Each lane is 3.5m wide, which AT said is significantly wider than the 3m lane width on Tāmaki Drive from the Strand to Ngapipi Rd.
The new design includes the narrowing of the road to remove kerbside parking and reallocate space to pedestrians and cyclists.
Correction: This story originally omitted AT’s cost estimates for the Point Chevalier to Westmere pedestrian crossings. It has since been updated.
Bernard Orsman is an award-winning reporter who has been covering Auckland’s local politics and transport since 1998. Before that, he worked in the parliamentary press gallery for six years.