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New measure to reduce congestion Christchurch’s Northern Motorway


Variable speed electronic signs will begin operating on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway from Tuesday after Waitangi Weekend, 9 February, to improve traffic flows during morning peak-hour congestion.

This is a new traffic management system for Waimakariri District commuters which will enable the setting of 60km/h speed limits during peak morning times. This is intended to reduce the onset of even greater delays further south along the route, said NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Southern Region Jim Harland.

The signs will operate when there are high volumes of traffic in the morning. Motorists braking as they enter Belfast cause a “slowing” ripple effect through the traffic, resulting in very slow speeds, said Mr Harland.

Introducing the 60km/h speed limit further back just south of Ohoka Road where there is less traffic will reduce the onset of flow breakdown and keep everyone moving to improve overall travel times, he said. Avoiding unnecessary lane-changing will help smooth flows also.

Traffic flows and speeds on the Northern Motorway will be monitored and the 60km/h speed limit will only be activated when queues look like forming during heavy traffic volumes.

But wait there is more…

The variable speed signs are one of a number of initiatives being rolled out this year to help ease congestion on the Northern access to Christchurch and reduce delays. These include:

Metro bus service improvements

Environment Canterbury is introducing a number of improvements to Waimakariri’s bus services to encourage more people to take the bus – these include better frequency, route coverage improvement and a new commuter service from Rangiora to Hornby, via Christchurch International Airport. The fare zone boundary north of Kaiapoi is also being removed to make it cheaper to travel within the Waimakariri District, and cheaper to travel from Rangiora, Waikuku, Pegasus and Woodend to the city. Waimakariri District Council is supporting these services with two Park & Ride facilities in Rangiora and Silverstream, new bus stops, local road improvements and a journey planner to help advise people about their trips to Christchurch.

Bus priority lanes Belfast and Chaneys off-ramp

The Christchurch City Council is also installing bus priority lanes on Main North Road near the Chaneys off-ramp and the NZ Transport Agency is extending the bus priority lanes on Main North Road in Belfast, between Richill and Donegal Streets. Both changes will help improve bus travel time reliability.

Carpooling website

Motorists are also being encouraged to carpool. The easy way to find a carpool match for your regular commute or one-off trips is to visit Smart Travel NZ(external link).

Longer term and bigger picture – major motorway upgrades

In addition to these short-term measures, the Transport Agency is working on construction of the Western Corridor improvements with completion by 2018(external link). With the Christchurch City Council, construction of the Northern Arterial(external link) will begin later this year, completion 2019/20. Both corridors offer long-term relief for motorists travelling from Waimakariri to Christchurch.