The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) today confirmed that cyclists will have the opportunity to ride across the new Newmarket Viaduct, as part of its advertised pre-opening celebration on Sunday, 29 August.
A week later, the new southbound viaduct - Stage 1 of the NZTA’s $215m Newmarket Connection: Viaduct Replacement Project - will open to drivers no later than 5am on Monday, 6 September, after Auckland’s biggest-ever traffic management exercise. The Southbound Switch will see the Southern Motorway (SH1) closed southbound for up to 36 hours from 5pm on Saturday, 4 September. The closure will allow the new viaduct to be joined to the Southern Motorway and the 800-tonne ‘Big Blue’ construction gantry moved from the new structure to the old.
During the motorway closure, the NZTA is advising all Aucklanders to expect severe delays throughout the region, and to drive only if they have to.
“The September 4-5 motorway closure will have a huge impact on the region,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker. “This Sunday’s community day will be a chance for people to see up close the impact the new viaduct will have on the region’s transport network when it is finished. We want to welcome all Aucklanders to share the unique experience of walking or cycling across it before it becomes a motorway.”
“Sunday will be the only opportunity Aucklanders get to walk, or cycle, across the viaduct. Since first advertising the open day, we have worked closely with Cycle Action Auckland to safely accommodate those preferring to cross the viaduct on two wheels.” Mr Parker adds.
The bridge walk starts at 9am on Sunday, with the last pedestrian access at 2pm. Cyclists will be allowed on to the new viaduct at 2.45pm, when walkers have left. They will have 45 minutes to enjoy the 1.5km ride up and down the new viaduct.
“Cyclists will love this ride in the sky, over the city, and its panoramic views. It has the added allure of being in easy cycling distance from the Newmarket train station. We are delighted the NZ Transport Agency has invited cyclists to help celebrate the project’s progress,” says Barbara Cuthbert, from Cycle Action Auckland.
The event is supporting the Rotary Club of Newmarket Charitable Trust for Health & Education, and walkers and cyclists are asked to make a gold coin donation.
The second half of the new viaduct - the new northbound lanes - will be built along the same alignment as the existing southbound lanes, once these have been dismantled as Stage 2 of the viaduct project.
While there will be no further public access, Mr Parker says the innovative staged approach to construction and deconstruction will allow the project to proceed with minimal disruption to motorway traffic until completion in late 2012. To mitigate the visual distraction and safety risks provided by the new central position of the Big Blue gantry, the reduced speed limit of 70km/h will remain in place throughout the duration of the project.
“The Southern Motorway closure on September 4 and 5 will be for a maximum 36 hours and we ask that people accept the temporary disruption so that the NZTA can deliver long term benefits for their travel,” Mr Parker says.
For more information on the Newmarket Connection project, this Sunday’s public event or the motorway closure, please visit www.nzta.govt.nz/newmarketconnection(external link) or the special facebook page: www.facebook.com/switchmyroute(external link).