07 Aug 2017
By Wright Communications
That is one of the short-term solutions proposed by National Road Carriers, one of the five organisations that commissioned a report by the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research on the need for decongestion of Auckland's roads.
National Road Carriers is the largest road freight transport organisation in the country with 1700 members.
"We know there are big projects in the pipeline," said David Aitken, the Chief Executive Officer of National Road Carriers. "But we need to make better use of the existing roads right now."
The NZIER report says there is a need for more encouragement of the use of public transport, traffic management options, better use of technology and the continued upgrading of motorways and arterial roads.
"Those things have to happen and the sooner the better even though they take time, but there are some things we can do right now," said Mr Aitken.
He said recent improvements to Nielsen St in Onehunga were a great example of what could be achieved. "When the bridge at the Onehunga end was disposed of, no parking was also introduced along the rest of the street. The traffic now flows much better with two lanes in both directions instead of only one lane because of parked vehicles."
While some main routes have "clearway" restrictions for traditional rush hour periods that was no longer sufficient, said Mr Aitken.
"The NZIER report shows congestion is occurring throughout the day and it's expected to get worse," said Mr Aitken. "Those clearway zones need to be permanent "no parking" zones 24/7 to free up another lane for free-flowing traffic."
Doubling what are effectively one lane roads in each direction to two lanes would enhance traffic flow said Mr Aitken.
He said congestion has increased considerably in the last three to five years. "Our members are making fewer trips over fixed routes and taking longer to do it, delivering less goods for a 30 percent productivity loss."
Getting parked vehicles off major routes with high traffic volumes is a priority, said Mr Aitken.
"They restrict traffic flow and not just the trucks delivering goods and services, but all vehicles - emergency services, buses and general traffic."
Mr Aitken said getting traffic to flow better would also lower the amount of pollution in the city as all vehicles produce more pollutants when they are constantly accelerating, braking, stopping and then repeating that cycle many times.
"People everywhere say the traffic is worse now than last year and it's strangling the city," said Mr Aitken. "Something has to be done urgently."
"Not allowing vehicles to park on main arterial routes is one simple way of getting the traffic flowing better now," said Mr Aitken. "We can make better use of existing roads if there is a will to get things done."
Productivity in the Auckland region could be boosted by between $900 million and $1.3 billion a year if steps are taken to decongest its major roads and get traffic flowing more freely.
Currently central and local government is looking at introducing decongestion measures in six to 10 years' time. Among the recommendations of the NZIER report are the introduction of congestion charging sooner than the current 10-year time frame.
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