Auckland drivers are poised to benefit from safer journeys, reduced congestion, and improved and more reliable journey times as the NZ Transport Agency starts commissioning hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements to the city's motorway network before Christmas.
The NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland, Wayne McDonald, says the NZTA is committed to start delivering the benefits to Aucklanders as soon and as safely as possible, although not all the projects will be finished.
"We will need the co-operation and support of Auckland's drivers so that the projects can be successfully introduced," Mr McDonald adds.
The duplicate Manukau Harbour Crossing on the Southwestern Motorway [SH20] will be officially opened on Sunday, 25 July – delivering increased capacity and improved connections to and from Auckland International Airport seven months early. The phased opening of the extension of the Southwestern Motorway and its triple-level connection with the Southern Motorway [SH1] at Manukau follows in late August, and in early September, the southbound lanes of the new Newmarket Viaduct on the Southern Motorway become operational.
"I don't think Aucklanders will have seen a year like this in terms of the number of large transport projects coming on stream, their value, and their impact," says Mr McDonald. ""There will be real gains for everyone using the motorway network. The Southwestern motorway extension at Manukau, for example, will eliminate 12 sets of traffic signals."
Mr McDonald says people will need to drive with care and patience as the NZTA starts commissioning projects early.
The SH20/1 connection at Manukau has to be opened progressively in three stages so that the 4.5 kilometre-long motorway can be completed. The first part – the southbound lanes and direct connections to the Southern Motorway – open in late August and the motorway will be fully operational in both directions by December.
Getting Newmarket ready for motorists in September, means the southbound lanes on the new viaduct to be aligned to the existing motorway and the gantry used in its construction moved.
Mr McDonald says work on the three-lane Victoria Park Tunnel - which together with the Newmarket Connection will ease heavy congestion through Auckland's Central Motorway Junction – is reaching a critical stage, too, that also requires support from drivers.
"We will be doing everything to help keep people informed as we deliver important changes to the motorway network," says Mr McDonald, "and asking them to plan their journeys and allow a little more time for their trips as they adjust to the new highway conditions."
Several other NZTA projects will impact on Auckland this year:-
Mr McDonald says that in additional to highway improvements and helping safeguard Auckland's history, the NZTA is also investing heavily in public transport as the city plans for both its future growth and for next year's Rugby World Cup.
"As the various parts of the Auckland transport jigsaw fall into place, the NZTA is now looking to the future and planning for improvements to our regional networks like the Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance
"Auckland is the engine room of New Zealand and the NZTA's contribution to enable people and freight to travel around more efficiently will help it realise its goal of being a truly international city," says Mr McDonald.