Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that he was determined to fix the issue of many road cones covering routes across the city. Video / Newstalk ZB
Vector is throwing its support behind Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown’s crackdown on road cones, saying traffic management is costing the power lines company $30 million a year.
“Vector supports the temporary traffic management trial proposed by the Mayor of Auckland, to establish how traffic management can be streamlined across the city, while also ensuring the safety of our crews and the community,” the company said in a statement this morning.
Aside from the $30m cost, Vector said in some cases traffic management can result in significant time to its restoration process, or maintenance work, which is a disruption for customers.
“If this can be done more efficiently while maintaining safety, we are very supportive,” said the company, which wants to work with the council and other parties on a pragmatic traffic management solution.
Road cones and road safety projects are annoying and causing road rage, Brown has said, as he committed to reducing the number of cones on Aucklands’ roads.
Brown called for his own council organisation, Auckland Transport, to reduce its “unjustifiable” $145 million spend on road cones and traffic management in the hopes of filling a massive budget hole.
Brown has spoken to AT and utility and energy companies Chorus, Vector and Watercare about a four-step approach to reducing the frequency of lane closures and cones for road works, which he described as “excessive and unnecessary”.
AT told the Herald this morning it welcomes the mayor’s plans for accelerating a more tailored and targeted approach to temporary traffic management (TTM), which would reduce the number of road cones.
It said national TTM standards are currently being reviewed by Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency with new draft guidelines for a less prescriptive and risk-based approach having been trialled.
“We are now seeking to progress with Waka Kotahi on potential Auckland trials, with discussions on the next steps involving utility providers and road maintenance contractors scheduled for later this month. AT also has underway a review of Road Corridor Access fees for works in the road corridor,” the council body said.
Brown told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that he was determined to reduce the number of road cones covering routes across the city.
“It has been annoying me for a long time.”
Brown said some years ago NZTA operated under the mantra of “safety at a reasonable cost” but Brown now believed it had been taken to a new standard of safety “at any cost”.
“You can lay out cones and charge like hell. Last night they took out a lane in Newton. It was a small job on the footpath on Great North Rd. I had a couple of hissy fits about it and now they [AT] are listening to me.”
Brown said people in Auckland Transport who managed the road works were “certainly the most annoying people”.
“Those who assist you to drive to a reduced speed. They have pissed everyone off, causing road rage.”
Last week, Brown spoke to AT, NZ Transport Agency, and utility companies Chorus, Vector, and Watercare to “fast track and trial a new more flexible approach to temporary traffic management”.
Brown’s plan is:
- Come up with a temporary traffic management plan that is more “tailored and targeted to risk” based on the guidelines of Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency’s draft New Zealand guide to temporary traffic management that was put forward in 2022;
- Explore a “one-pass” approach by contractors doing maintenance wherever possible, and improve planning around this;
- Look at incentivising contractors to reduce the road space taken up by temporary traffic management through a system of financial charges and penalties;
- The mayor’s office will commission an independent report “that would quantify the costs and benefits of the existing temporary traffic management approach and the more flexible trialled approach in terms of road safety, cost, delivery time frames, and user experience”. This report will inform the roll-out of Auckland Transport’s eventual temporary traffic management system.
- Brown said under AT’s current temporary traffic management protocols, the closure of lanes and laying down of cones is similar regardless of whether it’s being done for an event or for road repairs on the road or footpath. There is also no distinction regarding whether it’s an urban or rural area.
“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,” Brown said.
“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.”
Talking about the City Rail Link project with Hosking, Brown said he predicted that it would cost over $1 billion.
“It is a badly handled project.”
Where the money would come from, Brown said there needed to be consultation with fellow councillors.
“You can’t borrow your way to wealth. I will argue a lot with the Government. We didn’t have 50 per cent decision-making in a lot of these. They are taking up so much road space to carry out this work.”
The mayor’s office estimates that the overarching Auckland Council Group spends at least $145m on temporary traffic management each year.
“I do not accept the mantra ‘safety at any cost’. It cannot continue to hold back improvements to temporary traffic management, which is a costly and annoying imposition on the daily lives of Aucklanders,” Brown said.
“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.
“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.”
Automobile Association policy director Martin Glynn said he was broadly in support of the mayor’s plan to reduce road cones and unnecessary incursions into the streets.
“We’d probably like them [AT] to do a bit more to make sure that they’re being really efficient with their use of road space.
“I think it’s really looking at the start of a job what’s needed. A lot of jobs [road works] seem to go over time. So there is a need to keep heat on contractors. I don’t think [they] necessarily recognise the costs they’re imposing on everybody.
“We’d like [AT] to be mindful of the main routes into the city centre – that’s particularly Hobson, Nelson and Fanshawe Sts. But for the city centre to thrive, they’re going to need to recognise that general traffic is part of that mix as well. They’ve gone pretty hard over the last few years.”