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AT safety plan will worsen Forrest Hill queues

Flagstaff Team

Longer Forrest Hill delays ‘won’t be noticed’ – AT

A pedestrian-safety upgrade planned at the intersection of Forrest Hill Rd and Tristram Ave in Forrest Hill will add to the commuter tail-back, Auckland Transport (AT) admits.
Peak-time queues on the busy feeder-route to the northern motorway would likely double from around 90 metres to 180m, said AT road-safety engineering team lead Andrew Garratt. Up to 26 seconds would be added to waiting times.
Devonport-Takapuna Local Board members who were briefed about the plans at a workshop last month fear the impact may be worse than AT has indicated.
Board members with local knowledge of the area pointed out motorists already faced long peak-time queues on Forrest Hill Rd. “The queue coming north in the afternoon is back to Forrest Hill Primary already,” said George Wood. Residents were worried it was worsening.
AT intends to remove the left-turning northbound slip lane and traffic islands.
“The delay on the north lane won’t be noticed, because it’s already congested,” Garratt said.
The board asked AT traffic planners to look again at the impact of their intended changes, particularly on vehicles trying to get out of side streets to the south, including those turning right from Nile Rd.
“There’s a lot going on there, especially if you’re doubling queue lengths,” said member Peter Allen. Blakeborough Dr and Bond Cres were other roads members said were hard to exit from.
Wood wondered if people coming out of Nile Rd and attempting to move from the centre lane to the left-hand side of Forrest Hill Rd to get onto Tristram Ave would find this harder in future.

“The delay on the north lane won’t be noticed, because it’s already congested,” Garratt said.

The board was generally supportive of work to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross at the corner. But chair Toni van Tonder said there was “a whole network of possibly domino effects” to be considered.
AT said eight accidents were recorded at the intersection from 2018-22, one of them a pedestrian fatality in 2021. “That’s the [accidents] we know of. There may be others,” Garratt said.
Work will include realigning and extending road markings approaching Tristram Ave on the northbound side of Forrest Hill Rd. A bus-stop will be relocated a little further from the corner.
On the southbound side of Forrest Hill Rd, three parks will be lost near where vehicles turn out of the intersection.
Member Mel Powell asked about cycle safety. No specific changes were coming for cyclists, said Garratt, but they would be safer not having to cross to traffic islands.
Powell said she was a little bit nervous that drivers who were waiting longer at the intersection might push their luck with the traffic lights, thus endangering school children and others on foot or cycling.
Deputy chair Terence Harpur said drivers trying to get through as the lights were changing already often blocked the intersection. He feared this could worsen if further delays increased driver frustration.
AT said it was considering yellow hatch markings to more clearly deter drivers from entering the intersection when they should not.
It said it would consider the board’s feedback then later run a public consultation process before finalising designs. Work could begin in the 2024-25 financial year.

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