New motorway traffic technology for SH1 Wellington


The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is all set to use new technology to improve safety, traffic flow and on-road information for Wellington motorway users. New electronic ‘Lane Control Signs’ on SH1 from the Terrace Tunnel in Wellington city to Ngauranga Gorge will be ready to go next month.

Mounted on gantries and bridges straddling the motorway, the Lane Control Signs will display symbols to inform motorists of lane closures and revised speed limits. Short messages may also be displayed on larger electronic signs to provide information about incidents such as crashes, adverse driving conditions or congestion, and to suggest alternative routes when appropriate.

The signs will enable emergency services and motorway maintenance teams to reach and clear crash sites quickly and safely by directing motorists away from affected lanes. They will also minimise the phenomenon known as secondary crashes, caused when motorists are taken by surprise by a queue of vehicles slowed by an earlier incident.

Available 24 hours, 7 days a week, the new signs will be managed via a fibre optic network and CCTV cameras. These cameras, like others used in the region, will be monitored by a team of traffic operators based at the NZTA’s Wellington Traffic Operations Centre.

Wellington Operations Manager Mark Owen explains “We are looking forward to turning on the new technology to benefit Wellington motorway users. Safety, speed and travel times will all be improved, and we’ll be communicating quality information to motorists where they need it most; in their cars.”

NZTA advises that obeying Lane Control Signs is mandatory and, as with any other road sign, is legally enforceable. Symbols will only be displayed on the Lane Control Signs when they are required – if no symbol or speed is displayed normal road rules apply.

Lane Control Signs have been used successfully overseas, and in Auckland by NZTA, to manage traffic and improve incident response times and the speed of crash site clearance. They have also been found to reduce congestion and vehicles’ emissions through improved traffic flows. 

Further information is available on the NZTA website under the Petone to Terrace Tunnel Traveller Information Project(external link)