There’s been heavy congestion on the Auckland motorway network and local roads this morning as customers start the working week with the Auckland Harbour Bridge operating at 50% capacity.
“Today’s congestion has been as we expected and shows the importance of people changing their usual travel patterns,” says Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker.
“We urge people to consider working from home if possible. For those who must travel we encourage you to leave your cars at home and use public transport. We also advise motorists to use the Western Ring Route, via SH20, SH16 and SH18 as an alternative to SH1 and the bridge.”
While the Auckland Harbour Bridge only has two lanes open in each direction, this is also having a knock on effect across the network.
There were long queues north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with SH1 southbound at its worst queueing back to Constellation Drive. SH1 northbound at its worst was queued back to the Victoria Park Tunnel.
On the Western Ring Route, SH18 was congested along its length with city-bound queues on SH16 back to Westgate.
Local roads were also congested, with delays of up to an hour.
By 10:30AM, congestion had eased across the network except for southbound SH1 traffic on the North Shore queueing from Northcote Road to the harbour bridge. At 10:30 it was about five minutes quicker to travel to the city centre via the Western Ring Route.
Four lanes of the bridge’s centre span are closed after two trucks were blown over by 127 kph wind gusts on Friday morning, causing significant damage to the bridge superstructure.
Bus priority lane to North Shore on SH1 before the bridge
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are implementing a bus priority system that will be implemented before evening peak traffic on State Highway 1 northbound to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The priority lane is to reduce congestion for buses to the North Shore and provide more reliable journeys for customers.
This bus priority system will allow buses to access the SH1 northbound on-ramp at Fanshawe Street via a new priority lane, allowing buses to bypass the queuing traffic.
This priority lane onto the motorway will then merge with the general state highway traffic.
“Drivers need to take extra care and look out for merging buses on their right-hand side,” says Neil Walker.
To improve safety for both bus and motorway traffic at this new bus merge point, the Curran Street northbound on-ramp onto SH1 is closed to all traffic.
Motorists who would usually use the Curran Street onramp are advised to follow the sign-posted detour route to the Fanshawe Street northbound on-ramp.
The bus priority lane and Curran Street on-ramp closure will be in place until the Auckland Harbour Bridge is fully operational again, potentially a number of weeks away.
The bus priority lane is one of many initiatives Waka Kotahi and Auckland Transport are implementing to ensure public transport remains a reliable and convenient option during this time.
Auckland Transport (AT) is confident in its available passenger capacity on buses for the coming week ahead as buses are only 50% full compared to normal pre-COVID passenger levels. AT is also planning to increase bus frequency outside of peak hours so that more customers can take advantage of the 30% off-peak fare discount. Ferries are operating as usual and have spare seating capacity.
The joint operations centre managed by Waka Kotahi and Auckland Transport is working 24/7 monitoring the network and managing traffic lights and other systems to optimise traffic flows.
Waka Kotahi is focussed on doing everything possible to re-open the centre lanes of the Harbour Bridge as quickly as possible. A temporary fix to re-open some lanes may be possible in a few days but a permanent repair is weeks away.
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