The first ramp signals on the Northern Motorway will go live from Wednesday 1 July, beginning the next step north in the delivery of the NZ Transport Agency's comprehensive traffic management system for Auckland.
The ramp signals will start operating on the northbound on-ramps at Tristram Avenue and Upper Harbour Highway. A bus priority lane will also begin operating at Upper Harbour Highway for use by buses travelling north from the Constellation Bus Station.
The second group of ramp signals at Esmonde Road (from Akoranga Drive), Esmonde Road (from Takapuna) and Northcote Road on-ramps will also start operating in August.
Ramp signals in the southbound direction will be switched on progressively from September starting on each of the southbound ramps at Oteha Valley Road, Greville Road, Constellation Drive, Tristram Avenue, Northcote Road and Esmonde Road. Managed priority lanes for trucks, buses and car-pool vehicles (carrying two or more people per vehicle) will also operate at Greville Road and Constellation Drive southbound on-ramps.
Ramp signals are traffic signals at on-ramps that manage the rate at which vehicles move down the ramp and onto the motorway. They help improve traffic flows and safety on the motorway, while enabling more consistent speeds, safer merging and more predictable travel times. Ramp signals operate only when needed during busy periods. At all other times they remain switched off.
NZTA Acting Regional Director for Auckland and Northland Tommy Parker, says the ramp signals as well as the local approaches to the on-ramps will be closely monitored, ‘We are ensuring that the commissioning is co-ordinated with the phasing of the adjoining traffic signals - particularly at key intersections such as Esmonde Road, Wairau Road and Tristram Avenue. Our operators have a range of cameras giving them a real time view of traffic operations throughout the areas where ramp signals are operating on the Northern Motorway,’ he says.
As well as installing the vehicle detectors and associated technology under the road surface, the work includes upgrading the ramps to bring them up to modern standards together with improving a number of corresponding off-ramps. An example is the Northcote Road northbound off-ramp which is being significantly widened and upgraded.
At the same time, the NZTA is working closely with North Shore City Council to manage and assist traffic flows on the local approaches to the on-ramps. The signals have been designed to complement and link with the Northern Busway and to integrate with the council's existing projects and plans for new roads.
The measured results show that with the ramp signals operating, there is an overall 15% improvement in travel speeds and a 5-15% increase in the rate of vehicles flowing on the motorway.
The signals are scheduled to be completed across all three motorways - the Southern, Northwestern and Northern - by November this year. Another 14 are being installed on the Western Ring Route between Manukau and Albany as each part is being built.
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