Dynamic Lane Control system could be the cure to Auckland traffic
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A trial for a new system to manage traffic flow will begin in the north of Auckland in two weeks with the hope of easing congestion.
The installation of Dynamic Lane Controls on Whangaparaoa Rd on the Hibiscus Coast has been completed and will take effect from January 24.
The 12 month trial will see an approximate 1.4km section of Whangaparaoa Rd, between Hibiscus Coast Highway and Red Beach Rd, losing its wide median strip at peak times, to be utilised as a second lane for commuter traffic.
The road runs along the ridge of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and leads to a number of bays and residential suburbs.
It is known for huge surges in traffic during the morning commute, with a returning surge in the early evening.
The new system makes use of an adaptive LED light system embedded into the road surface to mark traffic lanes, instead of traditional painted markings.
In non-peak traffic times, the median strip will remain unchanged and one lane of traffic will run in both directions as normal.
But during morning peak traffic, the LED lights will switch, turning the median strip into an additional lane for traffic heading towards the Hibiscus Coast Highway.
In the afternoon, the LED lights will switch again in the opposite direction, creating an additional lane for traffic heading towards the Red Beach Rd intersection.
Further to this, eight overhead gantry signs will inform drivers which lanes to use, and all side roads will have signage to remind drivers that dynamic lane controls are operating.
The lanes will only operate from 4-6pm for the first three months of the trial. Auckland Transport will then look at extending the trial to the hours of 6.30-9am from April 18.
AT believes the system will allow better use of road space, accommodate peak traffic movement and reduces the need to widen roads or build new ones.
Group manager of network management and safety at AT, Randhir Karma, said the dynamic lanes will be closely monitored and changes can and will be made if needed.
CCTV cameras will be used to facilitate monitoring, while the speed limit on Whangaparaoa Rd will be reduced to 50km/h for the initial period of the trial.
The trial initially received negative feedback from the community, with local board members voicing their concerns for pedestrians and cyclists.
AT is banking on traffic lulls to create gaps for safer pedestrian-crossing opportunities and for the provision of two lanes to enable vehicles to change lanes in order to pass cyclists.
It said that travel times, driver behaviour, delay for right turners and the safety of everyone using the road with be closely monitored throughout the trial.
The system has been trialled in cities around the world and is similar to Auckland Harbour Bridge operations.