Motorists and bus services have been enjoying their first run to the Auckland CBD today on the new improved Northwestern Motorway (SH16).
The motorway has been widened and a third lane and a bus shoulder lane to the city between Westgate and Lincoln Road opened to traffic for the first time this morning.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Senior Manager Project Delivery Andrew Thackwray says the extra lanes will improve journey reliability and traffic flow, at least on the first part of the SH16 journey as far as the busy Lincoln Road interchange.
On average about 42,000 vehicles a day travel towards the city between Westgate and Lincoln Road, but the traffic is building so that by Rosebank Road the average number of vehicles increases to about 54,000.
“We will be monitoring traffic behaviour and advise drivers to be patient, to watch their speed and following distances as they adjust to a different traffic flow along the length of the Northwestern motorway, which in turn may affect waiting times on some city-bound on-ramps.”
“We expect SH16 traffic will remain heavy at peak times, but we can’t build our way out of congestion. As Auckland’s population continues to grow and more cars are registered, we have to provide facilities for public transport, walking and cycling and encourage people to use them.”
A third northbound lane and bus shoulder lane from Lincoln Road to Westgate will open next Monday 16 December. A 3.5km shared path alongside the motorway will open on Thursday, 19 December and extend the Northwestern Cycleway from Lincoln to Westgate.
Other improvements on SH16 include the replacement and raising of bridges over the motorway at Royal Road, Huruhuru Road and Huruhuru Creek. These have improved motorway access, safety and provide better walking and cycling facilities.
The new lanes and other improvements are to support population growth in the northwestern and western suburbs and the increasing amount of traffic using the Western Ring Route (SH18 and SH16).
“We’re delighted to deliver these improvements on SH16 because we know they will make a difference for so many people, who can now choose to travel by car, public transport or to walk or cycle,” says Mr Thackwray.
The SH16 Lincoln to Westgate improvements project is the latest phase of the Western Ring Route to be completed. It builds on the success of other improvements on SH16 including upgrades of the causeway, and the addition of the Great North Road interchange and Waterview Tunnel. which link SH16 with SH20B to the airport and SH20 to the Southern Motorway.
“Years of planning and construction are now providing a resilient north-south alternative to travelling on SH1 over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and through central Auckland. The full benefits of the Western Ring Route will be realised when the upgraded connection between the Northern Motorway (SH1) and SH18 is completed as part of the Northern Corridor Improvements project,” says Mr Thackwray.
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