Ever since new pedestrian crossings were put in place in Orewa Town Centre, at the intersections of Moana and Moenui Avenues and Hibiscus Coast Highway, complaints have been voiced by business association Destination Orewa Beach, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board and residents relating to safety.
Key issues raised include poor visibility and the proximity of the crossings to intersections. There have been a number of reported near misses on the crossings.
The crossings were completed in July and a month later, following this feedback, Auckland Transport (AT) painted white reflective paint on the granite pavers to make them more visible to traffic.
AT also commissioned two safety audits of the new crossings. Two separate audits are being undertaken, at a cost of $2400 each. The first one, commissioned from Traffic Engineering Solutions, looks at the intersection of the highway and Moana Ave. The other, for the Moenui intersection, is expected to be complete soon.
The Moana intersection report, dated August 2018, evaluates the crossings according to the NZTA Road Safety Audit Procedures for Projects Guidelines.
The issues that it raises include inadequate lighting, a lack of No Stopping At All Times road markings near the crossings and the width of the pedestrian crossing bars.
The report places these three concerns in the Moderate category, which is for concerns that “should be addressed to improve safety”. However, AT has opted to ignore the first two, while agreeing to increase the length of the white crossing lines.
The report notes that currently the crossing bars are 2m long, whereas 3.5m is recommended to make the crossings more visible to approaching drivers.
Other recommendations of a more minor nature, which AT has agreed to sort out, include the need to trim a tree to reveal a partially hidden ‘belisha disk’, that reflective raised pavement markers should be added to lane line markings and that the Check before you Step road markings need to be removed as they are confusing pedestrians.
Destination Orewa Beach operations manager Hellen Wilkins describes the safety audit as “about as much use as a chocolate teapot”.
She says she is surprised there is nothing stated about a major concern – the wait lines being 5m from the crossing, resulting in vehicles protruding out onto the highway, impeding traffic flow.
“AT has told me that driver speed is the main ‘concern mitigator’,” Hellen says. “So their view is that if drivers stick to the speed limit, all will be well. I was told that the extension of the 30km/h speed limit along the Boulevard is expected to reduce the likelihood and severity of any potential conflicts at the intersections. This shows that all accountability here is being passed to the drivers and away from AT.”
She says Destination Orewa Beach also plans to complain to the Ombudsman about “the excessive cost” of the crossings.
“It is quite concerning that AT paid the bills for this – even if it was the lowest tender received. The community and non-Council stakeholders seem to be the only ones holding anyone to any account for this expense,” she says.
The full safety audit for the Moana Ave/Hibiscus Coast Highway pedestrian crossings is linked to this story at www.localmatters.co.nz
For more details of the cost of these crossings, see below.
Breakdown of crossing costs
The fact that four pedestrian crossings in Orewa cost ratepayers just over $381,000, which was revealed in Hibiscus Matters’ May 2 edition, caused a lot of controversy. Recently, information obtained under the Official Information Act has detailed just how creating four pedestrian crossings can cost almost $400,000. In fact, Auckland Transport selected the lowest tender – other companies quoted as much as $670,664 for the same work. Downers NZ’s quote of $381,069 is broken down as follows (round figures): Traffic Management and Establishment $53,616 • Site preparation $20,284 • Earthworks $17,952 • Stormwater $6588 • Street drainage $508 • Grass berm and planting $15,593 • Services $2200 • Kerb, channel and concrete works $12,380 • Road markings $19,510 • Traffic signs and street furniture $9467 • Street lighting $92,724 • Footpath and zebras $130,342. Higher than normal traffic management and site preparation costs are described as “due to the works being carried out within the town centre that required temporary pedestrian safety measures during the course of the physical works”. The high cost of lighting, $92,000, is attributed to the decorative light poles installed to match existing ones. These costs may understandably make the community nervous about the potential cost of impending work on extending the pedestrian friendly Orewa Boulevard on Hibiscus Coast Highway from Riverside Road to Empire Road. An early cost estimate for this work was $1.3 million (HM April 18) but local board members say when AT presented its proposals for the extension to a recent workshop, this figure had already increased. The local board has sent the plan back, asking for changes to be made.