Motorists are being reminded by the NZ Transport Agency that the Wellington Street motorway on-ramp will close next Monday, 23 August, for three months until the end of November for necessary work on the Victoria Park Tunnel project.
The on-ramp provides access to State Highway 1 for traffic from the Auckland CBD and Ponsonby heading north across the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
“We need to close Wellington Street so that we can advance critical work on the Victoria Park tunnel,” says the NZTA’s State Highways manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker. “The closure will test other northbound on-ramps in the central city, particularly during the evening peak, and we are doing everything we can to minimise the closure’s impact on drivers and people who rely on public transport.”
Changes have been made to ensure that the Fanshawe Street and Stanley Street [Grafton Gully] northbound links can accommodate additional traffic. They include adjusting the ramp signals at the Stanley Street northbound link to get more vehicles through each green phase and reduce queuing time. Once on the motorway, traffic is expected to flow freely because there will be no vehicles merging from Wellington Street.
On the approach to the Fanshawe Street motorway on-ramp, traffic will be kept moving by removing the right turns from Beaumont Street. Traffic heading north from the Wynyard Quarter will need to access Fanshawe Street at the Halsey Street intersection, where lanes will be reconfigured and a pedestrian crossing moved to cater for more right-turns.
Mr Parker says an extensive information campaign, including a special website, has informed North Shore commuters of the changes coming up and advised them to vary their work hours if possible to avoid travelling home in the 4pm to 6pm peak.
To make bus travel easier, the NZTA is funding a new temporary park and ride site in Takapuna for the duration of the Wellington Street on ramp closure. This will open next Monday (30 August) at the Harbourside Church in Esmonde Road and will cater for 150 vehicles.
Mr Parker says anyone wanting more information about their options during the on ramp closure should visit www.vicparktunnel.co.nz(external link)
While the Wellington Street on-ramp is closed, the supporting walls to the southern approach to the Victoria park tunnel will be built.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project is one of the seven roads of national significance and construction of the 450 metre-long tunnel will eliminate the last serious traffic bottleneck on the central motorway junction between the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Newmarket Viaduct.
The motorway between Wellington Street and Victoria Park is being widened from four to seven lanes. The tunnel will take three northbound traffic lanes, and the existing Victoria Park viaduct will be reconfigured to carry four southbound lanes. SH1 through St Marys Bay is being widened by one lane in each direction to 10 lanes in total.
“The three month closure at Wellington Street will enable us to get the supporting wall built before the Christmas and summer holiday traffic peaks,” says Mr Parker. “We appreciate the support we are getting from drivers and communities and ask everyone to travel with care and patience through a very busy central city construction zone.”