John Deck is quite right to criticise the recent changes to the road at the Woodward and New North roads and railway intersection. The changes have made matters worse, not better. The new island has increased driver frustration levels, as the island has prevented access to the right turn lane, which now often sits empty when it could have assisted another six or so vehicles to make it through each phase of traffic lights. I once saw a frustrated driver go along the wrong side of the island in order to utilise the vacant right turn lane.
Frustration levels are also increased by the unneccessarily long period for which the railway barrier arms are down prior to the passing of a train.
Regular users of that intersection have realised that a train heading west trips the alarm and barriers at Woodward Rd when it pulls into the Mt Albert station, and motorists are left sitting waiting while people get on and off the train. The switch should be adjusted to be tripped when the train leaves the Mt Albert station, not when it arrives.
The problems Auckland Transport are trying to solve would have been better achieved by simply putting double barrier arms in place, that would block the opportunity for any delinquent motorist to drive through in the wrong lane.
I have previously suggested to the rail people a general safety improvement they could make to all suburban rail crossings, and that is to duplicate the red warning lights at each crossing by bolting a new set of lights to the back of the existing ones. This would have the advantage of approaching drivers and pedestrians seeing a set of warning lights on both sides of the road, instead of just one side as is currently the case. The idea was dismissed as unnecessary, but I am convinced it would be a cheap and easy safety improvement. grade-separated but progress has been extremely slow.
There have been endless arguments about whose responsibility the problem is (does the rail cross over the road or vice versa).
At times I have despaired that only a fatal accident would prompt action.
I put up a resolution to the very first meeting of the Albert-Eden Local Board in November 2010 calling for ‘‘action to ensure progressive grade-separation of all railway level crossings’’.
Two years later Auckland Transport reports that they are ‘‘planning to investigate the top five in terms of priority’’, but there is still no money budgeted for construction.
Still, I am hopeful, and Woodward Rd is high on the list as it has the highest vehicle count.