Weather permitting, the NZ Transport Agency says all lanes on the upgraded Southwestern Motorway [SH20] between Walmsley Road and Queenstown Road will be open and fully functioning from 5am tomorrow [Wednesday 1 September].
The availability of all lanes marks the culmination of over 2 ½ years of construction by the NZ Transport Agency and its partners in the Manukau Harbour Crossing Alliance.
The project to alleviate congestion across the Manukau Harbour between Mangere and Onehunga has seen marked changes to traffic in the area as lanes have progressively opened.
A survey on northbound travel across the harbour shows considerable improvements when capacity on the existing Manukau Harbour Crossing bridge was increased from two to three lanes last May. During the afternoon peak, the average speed increased from 30 kilometres an hour to 62kph, and the time it took to drive the 10 kilometres from Auckland International Airport to the Queenstown Road off-ramp north of the bridge dropped from more than 20 minutes to just under 10 minutes.
“Motorists will have really noticed that considerable difference in travel times over the last few months – particularly from the airport to the Auckland cbd,” says NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker. “With the final alignment opening tomorrow, drivers in both directions will now find conditions much improved from the queues, delays and frustrations previously experienced”
Mr Parker asks that motorist still drive with caution as there will be some minor works ongoing, including final landscaping as the weather becomes more appropriate for planting. Work will also continue on footpaths and cycleways in the area, including the new Onehunga Harbour Road footbridge which is due to open late September.
The new and existing Mangere bridges now provide four lanes of traffic and dedicated bus priority lanes in both directions across the Harbour. On either side of the bridges, there are three lanes of traffic and dedicated bus lanes in both directions between Queenstown Road and Walmsley Road.
The opening of this fully functioning section of the Western Ring Route is 7 months ahead of the original programme and Mr Parker thanks the Manukau Harbour Crossing Alliance team – Fletcher Construction, Higgins and Beca - for their commitment to deliver the project ahead of schedule.