Auckland Transport recently gathered feedback on creating a new T3 lane on Birkenhead Ave, that will not connect with the T3 on Onewa Rd, and would force all vehicles to merge into one lane before turning the corner. Obviously this would cause congestion as buses and cars merge to turn the corner, but also increase congestion for vehicles heading straight into Highbury and turning right into Highbury Bypass.
I can now reveal that Auckland Transport had the option of going with a better plan, but after an internal AT workshop in September 2018, they decided not include it in the consultation. It is called the “Long Term Option” and was detailed in a document called “Birkenhead Avenue Southbound T3 Lane Options Analysis” by AECOM New Zealand Ltd in November 2018, alongside the “Short Term Option” plan that AT chose to put out for consultation.
In fact, in the “Long Term Option”, there are 4 different variations, each reconfiguring the intersection in different ways, but all ensuring that both the T3 lane and general lane turn the corner separately.
What does the report say about the “Short Term Option” that went out for consultation? “The introduction of the bus lane [sic] is expected to result in some dis-benefits to general southbound traffic on Birkenhead Avenue. Queues for right turning and through movement could increase on the Birkenhead southbound approach to the Onewa intersection.”
Why the “Short Term Option” was ever considered, I don’t know. AT should have gone straight for the reconfiguration, or left it alone.
Coincidentally, last month the Kaipatiki Local Board gave conditional support to a T3 lane on Birkenhead Ave, subject to AT changing the Onewa Rd intersection to allow the T3 lane and general vehicle lanes to continue onto Onewa Rd as separate lanes (see attached resolution). This is in line with the “Long Term Option” that we did not know about at the time.