NZ Transport Agency is advising drivers to chose alternative routes and avoid the motorway congestion through central Auckland this weekend because of intensive works to complete the Victoria Park tunnel.
The NZTA plans to open two of the tunnel’s three lanes on Monday, 14 November, three months earlier than planned.
“There will be closures and reduced capacity throughout the weekend and congestion will be severe,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy parker. “We regret the disruption and will do everything we can to minimise its impact, but it is absolutely necessary to complete the tunnel work so that we can start delivering the benefits of the Vic Park project to drivers.”
The closures will be focussed around the central motorway junction (spaghetti junction) areas in central Auckland involving both the Southern (State Highway 1) and Northwestern (SH16) motorways:-
Work is due to start at 10pm on Friday, 11 November. All closures will be lifted and the two tunnel lanes opened by 5am the following Monday.
Drivers are being urged to use the new Northwestern and Hobsonville (SH18) motorway link between Westgate and Albany as an alternative northbound route. The NZTA’s motorway variably message signs and its traffic websites will help keep people informed of driving conditions.
“The closures will affect arterial roads around the motorways, and they are likely to be heavily congested as well,” Mr Parker says. “We are advising people to plan the timing of their travel, allow plenty of extra time because it is going to take longer, and drive with care and patience for a safe journey.”
Contractors have to rebuild a section of the motorway just past the Nelson Street off ramp to provide a safe connection with the tunnel lanes. They will need fine weather to complete their work. Mr Parker says if the work is delayed by bad weather, the tunnel opening will be postponed.
When finally completed next year, the 450 metre-long tunnel and associated motorway improvements through St Marys Bay will give drivers faster and safer travel through the most congested section of the Auckland motorway network. The $340m project is one of the seven roads of national significance indentified by the Government to support New Zealand’s economic prosperity.
Mr Parker says the coming weekend marks the start of a summer season works across the city’s motorways as the NZTA takes advantage of the fine weather to accelerate its construction programme.
“The level of work will be unprecedented. We are doing most of the work at times when traffic volumes are light to minimise disruption to drivers,” says Mr Parker. “But the support of drivers is critical to complete our programme successfully – starting this weekend at Vic Park.”