Wellington’s SH1 urban motorway will be closed overnight in coming weeks as the NZ Transport Agency’s smart motorway project enters its final phase.
Transport Agency Wellington highway manager Neil Walker says that past closures have gone smoothly, and motorists should expect only minimal disruption if they plan ahead and follow all signage.
The urban section of State Highway 1 between Ngauranga and Thorndon will be closed in both directions overnight during March on Saturday 5, Sunday 6, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20. Work will also extend to State Highway 2 between Petone and Ngauranga overnight on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 April. The closures will be in effect from 10pm Saturday to 7am Sunday, and from 10pm Sunday to 5:30am Monday on each weekend.
Mr Walker says while an obvious detour route along the Hutt Road is available for the State Highway 1 closures, working on State Highway 2 is a little more complicated.
“We’ve developed a plan to keep traffic moving at all times during the State Highway 2 work, except for a very short period where the road will be completely closed in both directions – expected to be around 10 minutes - at around 2am on Sunday 3 April,” says Mr Walker.
“We ask people to avoid the area during the closures if possible. However, everyone will be able to get where they want to go at all times because detours will be in place and they’ll be well signed.”
The urban motorway closures between Ngauranga and Thorndon are needed to remove two existing gantries and install two longer-span gantries. On State Highway 2, a new gantry will be erected just past the SH1/SH2 interchange and new electronic signs will be installed on the existing gantry near the weighbridge. New detectors will also be fitted into the road during the closures.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we thank motorists for bearing with us while we complete our smart motorway,” said Mr Walker.
On 6 March, just after the first weekend of closures, a seven week programme to resurface northbound lanes between Ngauranga and Aotea will get underway. All work will be carried out overnight.
“We’re doing a thorough rebuild of the road which involves removing layers of old paving, putting down the under-surface (or foundation layers) in sections and then, from early April, laying the final surfacing material on the top. This means traffic will run on a temporary surface for a few weeks while the work progresses.”
The new road surface product is called EMOGPA, or epoxy modified open grade porous asphalt. EMPOGA is a smart new product which improves the journey for road users and lasts much longer than other surfaces. It reduces road noise and water spray, and is expected to last up to 30 years – that’s four to five times longer than standard products.
“The rebuilt road and longer-lasting road surface will mean less disruption to road users for maintenance and resurfacing activities, and much better long term value,” says Mr Walker.
This work is all about putting the smarts into Wellington’s urban motorway. The smart motorway will operate from Johnsonville and Petone to the Terrace Tunnel. Using variable speed limits which will be adjusted in real time in response to changing traffic conditions, the smart motorway will pace vehicles to ensure a smooth traffic flow which will make journeys safer and travel times more predictable during peak times for everyone. It will also free up nearby roads for better public transport trips and for pedestrian and cyclists. The smart motorway will begin operating in mid-2016.
More information is available from our website; www.nzta.govt.nz/smartmotorway(external link) and from our smart info centre in the Johnsonville Mall. Severe weather or other unforeseen circumstances could delay closures and the resurfacing so keep checking our website and follow us on Facebook (NZ Transport Agency-Wellington) and Twitter (@nztawgtn) for updates.