Thousands of light vehicle exhaust emissions are to be tested at seven Auckland motorway and roadside sites over the next few weeks as part of an ongoing air quality monitoring programme.
The testing programme started last week (Wednesday, 18 February) with contractors for the NZ Transport Agency having set up the first of the test sites on West End Road, Coxs Bay. Other test sites selected around the region include roads with both light and heavy traffic volumes.
Test sites have been selected with the aim of capturing vehicles under power, such as when they pass up an incline. The equipment will measure the vehicle’s speed and the quantity and type of its exhaust emissions. Each vehicle’s registration plate will be photographed to provide data on vehicle age, type and fuel used.
The testing equipment used is not obtrusive for vehicle drivers or the public, but each site will be clearly marked. Vehicles do not need to stop and normal traffic flows will not be affected.
The Transport Agency’s ongoing testing programme monitors emission levels and how these may change over time, and helps determine the impact of various measures designed to improve air quality around roads and highways.
The NZ Transport Agency’s environment and urban design manager Rob Hannaby says that despite marked improvements in vehicle technology and tightening of emission and fuel legislation in recent years, motor vehicle pollution remains significant in many urban environments.
It is estimated to impose a social cost of $935 million a year due to increased deaths, hospitalisation and restricted activity days. This research project along with previous campaigns is just one part of a much wider evidence base that helps provide information on transport-related air quality issues.
Mr Hannaby says the research will provide a better understanding of trends in ‘real world’ vehicle emissions and the information will be used by government agencies to better manage vehicle pollution, and will also be used by land use planners in local councils.