The start of school holidays is expected to have an impact on northbound traffic leaving Auckland this afternoon and motorists are advised to plan ahead to avoid the peak period and allow extra time for their journey.
“Friday usually has the busiest afternoon peak period of the week as people finish work early or head off for the weekend. The evening peak usually starts around 2:30pm but we expect today it will be earlier and heavier, with traffic beginning to build from midday,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon.
“While we have reinstated two lanes, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is still not fully operational with only three lanes in each direction. Congestion and delays are likely on arterials and local roads as well as the motorways. We advise people going on holiday to consider delaying their journey until after the evening peak or even waiting until tomorrow morning.
“If you must travel today, plan ahead, allow extra time and consider using the Western Ring Route via SH16 and SH18 as an alternative to SH1 and the bridge. Use the online journey planner apps to check which is the least congested and quickest route before leaving home.
“If you are going from the North Shore or western suburbs to the airport, allow plenty of time in case there’s congestion on the motorways.”
MetService is forecasting heavy rain and strong winds for Sunday and the bridge operations team has been preparing for that, including putting sandbags and weights on temporary road cones along the bridge route.
“The bridge operations team has weather protocols for keeping the bridge and traffic safe in changing conditions and will reduce speeds on the bridge, close lanes or even close the bridge if necessary. Safety is our absolute priority,” says Gliddon.
“Motorists are urged to keep to the posted speed limit when crossing the bridge, avoid changing lanes and do not be distracted. We have tow trucks positioned on the bridge approaches to respond quickly to crashes and breakdowns but any vehicle stopping on the bridge will cause huge disruption that can quickly spread across the entire network.”
Waka Kotahi thanks motorists for their patience, understanding and willingness to adjust their travel plans this week. The four lanes on the bridge centre span closed on Friday after a 127km/h wind gust blew a truck into a load-bearing strut. Two of the centre span lanes opened on Wednesday after a temporary repair was made to the damaged strut.
“This week we’ve seen the number of vehicles on the bridge significantly reduced as people switched to public transport, worked from home or drove via the Western Ring Route on SH16 and SH18 to avoid using the bridge. We’re working on a permanent fix for the damaged strut but we’re still weeks away from restoring the bridge to full operation so we need people’s new travel patterns to continue for some time yet.”
Last night and this morning traffic has flowed reasonably well over the bridge and the Western Ring Route with reduced congestion and queueing and no incidents reported. Overall journey times have improved but buses using the Northern Busway are still quicker than cars on the motorway in peak time.
The Waka Kotahi operations team and Auckland Transport are continuing to provide the latest real time travel information to help people make informed travel decisions and minimise delays for customers. Auckland Transport is monitoring and making changes on local roads and intersections to improve bus travel times.