In the days leading up to Christmas people will see new directional signs being erected at the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) project to signalise the Welcome Bay and Maungatapu roundabouts. To ensure roundabout user safety NZTA is asking people to observe new lanes and signs.
Kevin Reid, senior project manager for NZTA says as the final construction phase approaches with the commissioning of the traffic lights in sight, roundabout users will need to learn which lanes to use to get to their destination. He is cautioning people to drive safely and be patient with other roundabout users.
“We’re expecting a period of adjustment for people as they become familiar with the new lanes and traffic lights. People will soon realise navigating the roundabouts is easy, but from a safety point of view they will need to travel carefully until they become used to the routes. People will need to be tolerant,” says Mr. Reid.
Mr. Reid also advises drivers to ensure they are in the correct lane as they approach the roundabouts, to avoid last minute lane changes and cutting in front of other vehicles. Once drivers get used to selecting the correct lane this will lead to smoother traffic flows and a more efficient system.
“Thinking ahead will be important for safe driving. For some people it may mean slowing down earlier than usual, to read a new road sign. It will be just like driving toward any traffic light intersection where a prepared driver ensures they are in the correct lane and then follows the red to green light phase,” he says.
According to Mr. Reid people should expect an increasing number of cyclists to use the road and seeing them wait in the cycle boxes while lights are red. He also says more pedestrians will begin to walk through the area again now that construction is complete and they will need to learn to wait for a safe crossing.
There are two main route changes roundabout users need to be aware of:
Firstly, the Turret Road approach to Maungatapu Roundabout now has three lanes instead of two. Drivers travelling to Welcome Bay must use the centre lane on the approach which becomes a dedicated lane through to Welcome Bay Road. For travel to Ohauiti Road drivers must use the far right lane on approach. This will bring them around to the centre lane between the roundabouts where they will be able to turn on to Welcome Bay Road for an immediate right turn into Ohauiti Road.
The SH2 approach from Mt Maunganui also has three lanes. Welcome Bay drivers must be in the left lane only to travel straight through to Welcome Bay in a dedicated lane. Those travelling to Ohauiti Road must use the centre lane. This will allow them to turn into Welcome Bay Road for an immediate right turn into Ohauiti Road.
As before, there is no right turn from Ohauiti Road into Welcome Bay Road, so drivers must be in the right hand lane from Ohauiti Road and travel all the way around the roundabout into Welcome Bay Road.
The Maungatapu Road and Hairini Street roundabout approaches do not have lights but Mr. Reid says people can be assured they will have regular opportunities to enter the roundabout system.
Weather depending, traffic lights will start operating during 15-19 December and a period of traffic monitoring will follow during the next six months.
“Because of traffic congestion caused by construction, people have developed their own routes. However, once the traffic signals are operating we expect drivers to change their travel behaviour. As they learn the new roundabout routes and signalised traffic light system, they will go through a period of adjustment. Eventually their travel behaviour will settle. This behaviour change will be monitored and traffic signal timing will be altered as required,” says Mr Reid.
UK engineer and roundabout expert, Barbara Chard, will be helping ‘commission’ the lights.
“Mrs Chard’s in-depth engineering knowledge and roundabout design experience has been extremely helpful for us. Now that lights are at an operational point, she will be guiding contractors to make small changes in light timing to allow for unpredicted peak traffic flows,” says Mr. Reid.
Contractors will remain on site while the roundabouts are landscaped and traffic monitoring is carried out over the next six months.
Welcome Bay roundabout graphic (PDF, 239 KB)