Auckland Mayor reveals plan to reduce road cones, road closures

Publish Date : 20 Mar 2023
Road cones

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is calling for Auckland Transport to work with national transport agency Waka Kotahi, and utility companies Chorus, Vector, and Watercare, to explore how the region’s Temporary Traffic Management (TTM) can be improved quickly, in ways that increase efficiency safely.

“I am determined to reduce the unjustifiable economic and social disruption caused by the existing approach to temporary traffic management. The length of time that roadworks take and frequency of lane closures, together with the number of road cones used, is excessive and unnecessary,” Mayor Brown said.

“Our preliminary figures indicate that Auckland Council Group spends at least $145 million on temporary traffic management each year, and utility companies have seen a massive increase in traffic management costs that no doubt contribute to higher charges for Auckland households.”

Last week, the Mayor urged transport and utility stakeholders to work with Auckland Transport and his office to fast track and trial a new more flexible approach to TTM.

“This is an important step towards improving Auckland’s transport network, and better management of Auckland Council Group finances,” Mayor Brown said.

The Mayor is calling on key stakeholders to:

  1. Immediately begin a six-month trial of an approach to TTM that is more tailored and targeted to risk, drawing on Waka Kotahi’s guidelines put forward last year as part of the Draft New Zealand Guide to Temporary Traffic Management.
  2. As part of the trial, explore opportunities to significantly improve programming and coordination of construction and maintenance work taking place within the road corridor, supporting a ‘one-pass’ approach by contractors wherever possible.
  3. Look at incentivising contractors to reduce the road space taken up by TTM through a system of financial charges and penalties.
  4. Assist with the design of an independent report, commissioned by the Auckland Mayor’s Office, that would quantify the costs and benefits of both the existing TTM approach and the more flexible trialled approach in terms of road safety, cost, delivery timeframes, and user experience. The report will inform the roll-out of a fit-for-purpose TTM system.

“Road repair and maintenance work is essential and unavoidable, and we must accept some traffic disruption as the price of building and maintaining Auckland’s infrastructure network, but the price we pay is too high,” Mayor Brown said.

“The proliferation of road cones is the result of an overly prescriptive temporary traffic management regime, where little to no adjustment is made for the actual level of risk, and this is where I see an opportunity for more immediate progress.”

Under the current TTM, the methodology for closing lanes and deploying cones is similar, regardless of whether it’s being done for an event or road repairs, whether work is being carried out on the road or footpath, or it’s an urban or rural environment.

“Contractors appear to take up more space on the road network than is necessary for their own parking, material storage and lunchrooms, increasing the cost of disruption to road users at minimal cost to themselves,” Mayor Brown said.

“This is an absurd and unjustifiable burden on ratepayers, consumers, and road users. Fixing Auckland requires us to address exactly these sorts of systemic failures.

“Local boards have also reported temporary traffic management costs are prohibitive for community events, such as Anzac Day and Santa parades, which may be at risk as a result.

“I do not accept the mantra ‘safety at any cost’. It cannot continue to hold back safe and reasonable improvements to temporary traffic management, which is currently a costly and annoying imposition on the daily lives of Aucklanders.”

The Mayor’s proposal to trial a new flexible approach to TTM has already found support. It follows last week’s announcement that Mayor Brown is delivering on his promise to improve bus reliability, with Auckland Transport preparing to trial GPS tracking that will buses priority at key intersections in April.

“I was elected by Aucklanders to achieve five things – to fix Auckland’s infrastructure, stop wasting money, take back control of council organisations, get Auckland moving, and make the most of our harbour and environment,” Mayor Brown said.

“It’s been a devastating start to the year, but it feels good to start some making progress and building momentum around delivering on my promises to Aucklanders.”

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