With traffic expected to be heavy over the Wellington Anniversary weekend, the NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists to plan ahead for potential delays.
“We’re expecting large numbers of traffic leaving the Capital on Friday, then returning on Monday, and it's important that motorists are ready for the possibility of hold-ups when they set out on their journeys.”
During peak travel times, NZTA will be closing the SH1 northbound passing lanes north of Te Horo, as well as the southbound passing lane, north of Otaki.
The closure of the northbound passing lanes will take effect from 9.00am on Friday 18 January and reopen at approx mid to late afternoon Saturday 19 January, subject to traffic flows.
On Monday 21 January, NZTA will close the SH 1 southbound passing lane, north of Otaki, from 10.00am and will reopen around 8.00pm, depending on traffic volumes.
Wellington Operations Manager Mark Owen says the closure of the passing lanes, which is supported by the Police, is done for safety purposes and to improve traffic flows.
"Passing lanes are only effective when traffic is flowing freely. This is because when traffic is backed up, vehicles merging back into the traffic jam can upset the gradual traffic flow and even cause nose to tail crashes.
"That's the reason the passing lanes are closed during holiday peaks – it means more vehicles get through and it’s safer for everyone."
“The lanes will be appropriately signposted and fenced off with traffic cones, and we’re reminding people to obey the normal road rules by keeping left.
“If traffic remains heavy, passing lanes will remain closed longer until we are satisfied traffic flows have reduced.”
Mr Owen says NZTA will also be providing temporary traffic management measures, within the Otaki Township, to improve traffic flow, including local traffic diversions to minimise the merging of traffic at the roundabout. This will be fully operational by mid morning and will be removed by late evening, or when traffic flow levels have returned to normal
There are continued roadworks at Paekakariki to improve the road surface, and while no work is planned during the day, drivers are advised to take extra care and observe all signs.
Meanwhile, Mr Owen said people should ensure they are well prepared for their journeys, drive with patience and avoid taking chances when turning or overtaking.
“Driving with courtesy can keep traffic flowing smoothly and helps ensure the roads remain safe. We also encourage drivers to take breaks to avoid driver fatigue."