Ngauranga to Aotea Quay Upgrade - Putting the smarts into the Wellington urban motorway


Work is now underway on the $50 million upgrade of the Ngauranga Gorge to Aotea Quay section of Wellington’s urban motorway. The result will be New Zealand’s first ever ‘smart motorway’.


The project is part of the Transport Agency’s programme to provide safe, efficient and reliable travel that supports people and businesses to grow and prosper. It aims to improve safety, reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable on the most high-volume section of highway in the Wellington region. And by improving traffic flow on the motorway, local roads will also benefit, making public transport work better as well.

Motorways get smart by combining technologies, such as sensors, cameras, and speed and lane control signs, with active monitoring and management by traffic operators, and smarter drivers. When all three of those parts come together, the stop/start nature of congestion is eliminated, traffic moves more smoothly and everyone gets where they’re going sooner and more safely.

Along with upgrading the Active Traffic Management System, the project’s physical work includes:

  • adding another northbound lane between the Aotea on-ramp and the Ngauranga Gorge / State Highway 2 intersection
  • replacing the median barrier
  • widening the State Highway 2 off-ramp at Ngauranga
  • lengthening the existing sign gantries and adding a number of new ones, and
  • building a new southbound on-ramp for emergency services at Ngauranga.

Staff at Wellington’s Traffic Operations Centre are at the core of the project helping design a responsive, active operating system so they can run a smart motorway. And there’s a big emphasis on engaging drivers on how they’ll contribute to everyone sharing the benefits a smart motorway offers.

Most of the physical work to date has been preparing the site. In January, the on-road physical work will begin. The existing sand-filled central median safety barrier will be replaced with a narrower concrete extruded barrier. This will start at the Ngauranga Gorge end of the works and move progressively towards Aotea Quay.  The whole process will take up to 16 months and the speed limit on the section of motorway that’s being worked on will be reduced during that time.

From April to July, new and upgraded gantries will be installed.  This will require full motorway closures for several nights; closures will be advertised and diversions will be in place.

Wellington’s smart motorway is due to be operational by April 2016.

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