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Waterview tunnel now open to traffic

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The country’s most ambitious roading project, the Waterview Connection, which connects Auckland’s Northwestern and Southwestern motorways, opened to traffic early this morning.

Waterview Tunnel - the first vehicle enters the tunnel

The first vehicle travelled through the Waterview Tunnel at 12.47 on Sunday morning, five years after construction first began on the $1.4b project.

The attached CCTV footage shows the first cars to enter the northbound tunnel, travelling from Owairaka to Waterview, accompanied by three police vehicles.

The NZ Transport Agency is encouraging motorists to avoid rushing to drive through the tunnel in the first few days after opening, to help ease traffic congestion and delays on roads in and around the Waterview Connection.

Auckland Highway Manager Brett Gliddon says as with any new piece of infrastructure, there will be a settling in period while people adapt their journeys and routes and get used to driving in such a long tunnel.

“When it first opens motorists should expect the tunnel to be very busy because we know many people are keen to experience driving it for the first time. The Waterview Connection will be a key part of the Auckland transport system for a long time now and there’ll be plenty of opportunity for everyone to use it.”

“We will be monitoring traffic flows carefully over the next few months and we’re asking people to bear with us while everyone gets used to the new route and driving conditions. Everyone can play their part by planning their journeys before they set out.”

The Waterview Connection is the final link in the Western Ring Route, one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance to support growth and development.

“The Waterview Connection will change the way people and freight move around Auckland and the rest of the country, offering a true alternative route that bypasses the city centre,” says Mr Gliddon.

The 48km Western Ring Route creates greater reliability and resilience, as well as more transport options with bus lanes and walking and cycling connections and creating efficient links to and from Auckland Airport.

While it’s not designed to remove peak time congestion altogether it will provide a better balance of traffic flows across the road network, including helping to remove cars from local roads.

These are the Transport Agency’s top tips for safe driving inside the tunnel:

  • Follow the signs and get into your lane early, then stay in your lane to reduce the likelihood of an accident and delays.
  • Dangerous goods vehicles, vehicles over 4.3m high and vehicles carrying uncovered loose bulk loads are not allowed inside the tunnel. Follow signs for the detour route.
  • In addition to the specific instructions for the Waterview Tunnel, usual motorway rules such as appropriate following distances, no stopping, reversing or 'u' turns still apply.
  • If there’s an incident in the tunnel and when traffic is stopped, stay in your car. You will be advised via the overhead signs, radio and/or PA systems of what is happening and any action you may need to take.
  • Ensure your vehicle has sufficient fuel for your journey.
  • Any vehicle stopped in a lane from accident, mechanical breakdown or otherwise, will be pushed or towed to a place of safety as quickly as possible.

The Waterview Connection was delivered by the Well-Connected Alliance made up of the NZ Transport Agency (the client on behalf of the NZ Government), Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell, WSP, Beca Infrastructure, Tonkin+Taylor and Obayashi Corporation.  Sub-alliance partners are Auckland-based Wilson Tunnelling and Spanish tunnel controls specialists SICE.

For more information about the Western Ring Route and the Waterview Connection visit our website: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/the-western-ring-route/waterview-tunnel (external link)

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