The NZ Transport Agency is thanking Wellington motorists after the first week of overnight closures to enable the refurbishment of the Mount Victoria Tunnel went smoothly with minimal disruption.
“We appreciate that this closure is one of Wellington’s most substantial road closures in recent memory, and we’re delighted that Wellingtonians have taken these changes in their stride, much like they’ve done with the Terrace Tunnel closures,” says NZTA Wellington State Highways Manager Rod James.
“We’re grateful to the public for their patience and understanding in adapting to these changes and using the alternative routes and free buses and shuttles.”
Wellington City Council Infrastructure Director Stavros Michael says the diversions appear to be working well and the extra traffic through Newtown and around Oriental Bay is not causing any undue congestion or holdups. "We're happy with the way things are progressing so far."
The closures were delayed until midnight last Tuesday to ensure they did not cause disruption following the Katy Perry concert, and the tunnel will remain open during Rugby World Cup games later this year and other major events.
Mr James says uptake of the free bus passes has been high, with more than 100 passes issued for use on the No 2 Miramar bus between 8-11pm, Sunday through Thursday. The NZTA are encouraging people to use buses where possible, although a free shuttle service is also in operation. Bus passes can be requested by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0508 WTA 444.
The tunnel is closed overnight between 8pm and 6am five nights per week from Sundays to Thursdays, for work to take place. Closure information is published on the project website and every Monday in the Dominion Post, and advertised on radio.
“This is important work and it can’t be done when the tunnel is in use, so to minimise disruption to motorists and local residents we’re doing the work overnight, and there are clearly marked diversion routes in place.,“ says Mr James.
“It’s essential the upgrade is done efficiently. Closing the tunnel five nights a week is the best way to do this without affecting peak time traffic flows in and out of the city.
Two alternative routes are available – one via Newtown and another around the Bays. As the Terrace Tunnel will also be closed overnight in conjunction with the Mt Victoria work, anyone who would normally travel through both tunnels should consider using the Bays route as this is expected to be quicker.
Cyclist diversion routes have been identified that follow the vehicle diversion routes either through Newtown or around the Bays.
Mr James thanked the Wellington City Council for their support in accommodating the traffic changes, and the Mt Victoria, Hataitai and Netwown Residents Associations for their valuable feedback on these changes.
The upgrade is being carried out by the Wellington Tunnels Alliance, a consortium including the NZTA, Leighton Contractors, AECOM and SKM.
The reburbishments involve an upgrade of the tunnel’s fire fighting systems and work to improve the safety of the tunnel in the event of an earthquake. The upgrade will bring the tunnel’s systems up to modern standards and extend its life. Work is expected to be completed in early 2012.
More information on the upgrade project, diversion routes, pedestrian and cyclist travel, and tunnel closures can be found on the project website at www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/mt-victoria-tunnel(external link)