13 September 2018
Traffic signals will be switched on at the Taupō Quay/St Hill Street intersection before the end of September.
Roadworks have been underway at the intersection for several months, with traffic signal poles installed, the kerb and channel extended on Taupō Quay and St Hill Street, the seagull barrier removed (the concrete barrier which separated turning and straight-through traffic) and new lanes marked on both roads.
The traffic signals are being installed at the T-intersection as part of Te Tuaiwi Shared Pathway and an upgrade of Taupō Quay. The shared pathway runs the length of St Hill Street, separating cyclists from motor vehicles and providing school children with a safer route to schools in the central city.
The new lay-out includes designated left and right turning lanes for all drivers. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to cross safely from St Hill Street to Taupō Quay, make their way to the City Wharf and join up with the City to North Mole shared pathway.
The kerb and footpath has been extended on Taupō Quay outside the former Whanganui Chronicle building, creating a new green space that incorporates the large established trees.
Special sensors beneath the shared pathway – similar to those for vehicles – detect an approaching cyclist and will co-ordinate the cycle crossing phase. At the intersections, pedestrian and cycle crossing lanes have also been clearly marked to separate cyclists from pedestrians.
Cyclists will need to push a specially-marked cycle button to activate the signal sequence. Mobility scooters, scooters and skateboards are legally classified as pedestrians, so should use the pedestrian lane. Diagonal crossing will not be available for pedestrians.
Road Transport Engineer Chris Thrupp says the new signals improve safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and eliminate vehicle/pedestrian conflicts by separating their phases.
“The changes mean a much more efficient system for pedestrians and drivers. The signals will be linked to those at the City Bridge and Ridgway Street and have upgraded technology that adjusts to varying traffic flows and peaks.
“A fibre optic cable will be installed by the end of September the length of St Hill Street so all signals can communicate with a central computer program to co-ordinate green phases, promoting more efficient traffic flows.”
Drivers are urged to slow and be alert at the T-intersection. Mr Thrupp says pedestrians and cyclists should also take extra care while they get used to the changes.
To cross safely at a controlled intersection:
- Check to make sure the pedestrian and/or cyclist signal opposite you has turned green, or the button is vibrating, before you cross. The buzzer is a warning to check your signal – it is not a ‘clear to cross’ signal.
- Each button is an audio/tactile unit that emits its own sound and vibration to assist those who are visually impaired to cross safely
- If the signal turns flashing red while you’re crossing, carry on. You’ll have time to get across. The green signal is to initiate crossing. If it is flashing red or red don’t start your crossing.
- It is best to check for turning traffic before and during crossing. Turning drivers will be getting used to the new signals, so stay alert on the crossing at all times.
Mr Thrupp says turning drivers will notice they have special turning arrows and must stop on a red arrow. The red arrows mean there are pedestrians or cyclists crossing.
The Council received a 75 percent subsidy from the New Zealand Transport Agency for the new traffic signals.