20 Mar 2023

Auckland road cone use 'expensive, unnecessary' - mayor

From Checkpoint, 5:07 pm on 20 March 2023

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has labelled road cones dotted through the city an "unjustifiable disruption" and is calling on several big organisations to work out how traffic management can be improved, to cut back on lane closures.

The number of road cones used was "excessive and unnecessary", Brown said.

He wants Auckland Transport to explain its $145 million spend on traffic management and trial a new way to cut back. 

As central Auckland has seen a surge in infrastructure development in recent years, road cones are a common sight in the CBD.

"I made the comment that somebody must be making a lot of money out of these things certainly on the highways, you're constantly finding them...I think there's an over use of them to be perfectly honest," one person told Checkpoint

"There's more and more and more and it's just a nice cash cow for the road cone people and the construction workers," claimed another. 

Brown said he is determined to reduce the economic and social disruptions caused by temporary traffic management. 

The duration of road works, the frequency of lane closures and the number of road cones used is excessive and unnecessary, he said.

He has laid out a plan to tackle temporary traffic management woes. 

It includes a more "tailored and targeted" traffic management plan, with a six-month trial beginning immediately. 

He wants to see improved programming and co-ordination of construction and maintenance work taking place within the road corridor. 

There will also be an independent report to "quantify the costs and benefits" of how Auckland Transport handles traffic management. 

The news was welcomed by a taxi driver based at the downtown ferry terminal. 

"It becomes a very costly exercise, especially for the riders because the taxi meter is running and while you are stuck in the queue and deviating from this street to that. 

"The fact is, at times we see cones lined up and there is no work happening." 

A cyclist in Britomart was also in favour. 

"I noticed they're always in the cycle lane and I have to merge into traffic more often, but I'm sure pedestrians would be the same." 

A road worker directing pedestrians around cones in Britomart said without road cones things would be extremely dangerous. 

"Unsafe I guess, you know these cones and everything is protection for everybody, some people like don't listen, they just do whatever they want." 

Brown said he wants contractors to reduce how much space on the road the cones take up, but the worker said the spacing of cones was following strict guidelines. 

Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie said there was a "very prescriptive" process it needed to follow from Auckland Transport.

"I think it's not dynamic enough, it's too structured and too set," Mackenzie told Checkpoint.

Traffic management setups in cul-de-sacs, for example, were "overkill", he said.

"We think there's a much better way that it can be done where it's more of a risk-based approach."

The area, volume of traffic, risk, time of day and requirements of a setup should be taken into account, he said.

Mackenzie said between $30 million and $35 million was spent on traffic management, he said.

In a statement Auckland Transport said it welcomes the mayor's backing for a more tailored traffic management plan. 

National standards were currently under review by Waka Kotahi, with new draft guidelines already being trialled. The organisation said it was hoping to progress on Auckland trials. 

Discussions on next steps involving utility providers and road maintenance contractors were scheduled for later in March.