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Construction projects take advantage of less traffic under Alert Level 3

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency motorway construction projects have moved to take advantage of reduced traffic volumes on Auckland’s motorways under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

Across Auckland’s motorway network, traffic volumes have dropped by as much as 50% since the region went into Alert Level 3 on Wednesday, 12 August. 

“The call to work from home if possible, to stay local and to only make essential journeys has had a marked effect on traffic volumes. We noticed it during the lockdowns earlier in the year but our construction projects were only able to take limited advantage of it,” says Waka Kotahi Senior Manager Andrew Thackwray.

“This time, as Auckland went into Alert Level 3 we saw an opportunity to extend night shift work on projects to increase productivity.”

The Northern Corridor Improvements project (SH1), which is improving motorway connections between SH1 and SH18, extending the Northern Busway to Albany and building walking and cycling paths, increased its night shift by more than two hours, starting 90 minutes earlier and finishing an hour later.

“Usually the night shift is from 9pm to 5am with strict rules about being off the motorway before the start of morning peak time traffic. Now, with no morning peak our teams can work longer, be safe and get so much more done.”

“Auckland went back into Alert Level 3 with less than a day’s notice so there was no time to schedule work specifically to take advantage of the lockdown. However, we’ve been able to implement motorway lane closures and put in detours as we usually would. The difference is that we can keep them in place for longer, giving the teams more time to work in different areas to get things done without disruption to our customers.”

On the Southern Corridor Improvements project (SH1), the night shift road sealing team also extended its hours to take advantage of reduced traffic volumes.

“The plan was to make productivity gains but surfacing work needs dry conditions and the wet weather has not been helpful in recent days.”

Andrew Thackwray says the longer shifts and road closures require extensive planning and coordination.

“We’re learning as we go and the more agile and responsive to the Alert Levels we are, the more our projects can benefit.”

Further north on SH1, the Dome Valley safety improvements project has moved a night shift to the day shift to take advantage of reduced traffic.

The team is working on paving construction, which is the preparation of the road’s base course so it is ready for asphalt sealing in fine weather.

“This work is usually done at night to minimise disruption for SH1 traffic but moving it to the daytime means much more progress can be achieved and, with traffic significantly reduced, it is safer for the work crews,” says Andrew Thackwray.

The daytime work in the Dome Valley will continue as long as the Auckland region remains at Alert Level 3.

A concrete beam is lifted into place on the new SH18 flyover that will link to SH1 as part of the Northern Corridor Improvements project.

For more on the projects, see:

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