Congestion is easing across the Auckland motorway network after a very busy afternoon on the southwestern motorways around Auckland Airport. Traffic within the airport itself remains busy, but is slowly easing.
At one stage traffic became gridlocked in the airport precinct, says Auckland Operations Manager Rua Pani.
The situation developed as thousands headed to a burial ceremony at the Manukau Memorial Gardens, next to where State Highway 1 meets State Highway 20B, the main route to the airport from the south.
The event was scheduled for 4pm, which roughly coincided with the start of the evening peak congestion period.
“We only found out about the Memorial Gardens event late yesterday so there wasn’t much time to plan for it. We also didn’t know how many people would come to the event,” says Ms Pani.
“We got the word out that people heading to and from the airport would likely be affected and needed to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys.”
The motorway congestion was further exacerbated by a serious crash which closed all northbound lanes on State Highway 20 at Queenstown Road for ninety minutes. All lanes reopened at about 5pm but by then traffic was backed up on SH20 to Puhinui and to Landing Drive on SH20A.
Once traffic began flowing again on SH20, the congestion around the airport slowly began to ease. And while mourners leaving the Memorial Gardens initially contributed to the traffic, they were carefully managed and congestion on SH20B also began to ease.
“It has taken several hours for the network to return to normal after what has been quite a day,”
“Our concern throughout was that we keep the traffic moving, keep people safe and help people get to where they wanted to go. We worked hard with our partners to manage issues as they came up through the afternoon.”
“We acknowledge that some people will have had their travel plans seriously inconvenienced and it’s been a frustrating time for many. But this was a fast-moving situation with the Memorial Gardens event, the crash on SH20 and then a house fire by the motorway at Puhinui creating an extremely challenging situation to manage.“
“The Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, Police and Auckland Airport thank motorists for their patience and understanding.”
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