While Auckland commuters plan their summer escape, the NZ Transport Agency is reminding them to allow more time for their journey and to take extra care as it tackles three significant motorway works over the Christmas holidays.
Most work stops over the holidays to keep traffic flowing smoothly. The NZ Transport Agecny, however, will take advantage of lower traffic volumes in Auckland to complete essential work on the Victoria Park Tunnel, the Lincoln Road Interchange on the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
During this time, drivers are reminded to plan their journeys, particularly as they head home from Christmas and New Year holidays on the weekend of 13-15 January.
"Whether they are returning before or after New Year, they will encounter changes," says the NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker. "Our goal is to progress these significant transport improvements when traffic is quieter while ensuring holidaymakers can travel safely to and from their destinations."
People can get traffic information from on-road electronic message signs, or visiting http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/current-conditions/highway-info/index.html before driving.
NZ Transport Agency's 'big three' for the Xmas holidays are:-
Auckland Harbour Bridge (26 December - 8 January): Both northbound clip-on lanes, Curran Street and Stafford Road ramps closed for resurfacing. Six of the bridge's eight lanes remain open.
Victoria Park Tunnel (27 December): Temporary change to lane layout on the flyover from Tuesday, 27 December, until 9 January. Full and partial motorway closures are scheduled for a number of nights before 9 January to allow final surfacing. road marking and the installation of new signs. These will affect both northbound and southbound traffic. Work will also take place on local roads including Victoria Street West, lower Franklin Road, Union Street and Beaumont Street.
Northwestern Motorway (SH16) closure for Lincoln Road Interchange (13-15 January): A 36 hour closure of a section of the Northwestern Motorway west of the causeway for the demolition of the Selwood Road Bridge. Drivers are urged to avoid the Northwestern and use SH1 and SH18 as alternative routes.
"Even with many people away, Auckland's motorway network can still be busy in places because of sports events and post-Christmas sales in the central city and suburban malls," says Mr Parker.
Traffic will also be busy on Auckland's regional highways, and in Waikato and Northland, and Mr Parker says the NZTA will work with Police, the Ministry of Transport and ACC to keep drivers safe.
Significant regional changes drivers should be aware of include:-
SH2: The speed restriction is reduced from 100km/h to 90km/h along the majority of the 32km stretch of highway between the SH1/2 interchange near Pokeno and the SH2/25 intersection near Mangatarata. Exceptions will be the 6.2km Mangatawhiri Deviation, which will remain at 100km/h, and 1.8km through the Maramarua township where there will be no change to the 70km/h speed limit.
SH25, Kopu Bridge: Although the new two-lane Kopu Bridge is now open, other pinch points in the popular Coromandel area, including single lane bridges and windy coastal roads, remain which may cause delays with the arrival of huge numbers of holidaymakers.
SH10 Bulls Gorge: 80kph and 50kph speed restrictions through the construction site.
The NZTA reminds drivers that the Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 north of Auckland will be busy. Mr Parker encourages people to buy their tolls on-line at www.tollroad.govt.nz to avoid delays by queuing to pay at the manual kiosks. The on-line option does not incur the additional administration fee that is added to those tolls bought at the kiosks or by phone.
"People should drive to the conditions and expect the unexpected - changes to the layout of the highway, speed restrictions or closures," Mr Parker says. "Our priority is to do everything we can to help people get to their holiday destinations easily, smoothly and safely."