The NZ Transport Agency is responding to drivers concerns about motorway congestion at Manukau in south Auckland and introducing new traffic control measures until work to connect the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) with the Southwestern Motorway (SH20) is completed in late November.
Southbound lanes on the Southwestern will be reduced temporarily from two lanes to one just before the motorway joins the Southern. The single lane will be operating before this afternoon’s peak.
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker, says the lane reduction will better regulate the flow of traffic on the Southwestern before its joins SH1. It will also prevent drivers on SH1 weaving into the merge lane and using it to try to jump the queue before rejoining the motorway.
“We are aware of the concerns that many people have had with delays,” he says. “It’s an issue during the afternoon peak when traffic volumes heading south are at the heaviest, and we hope our response will improve driving conditions and travel times.”
Mr Parker says the NZTA is implementing several back-up measures as drivers adjust to the new highway conditions as work continues to complete the connection of the two motorways. Other initiatives include:-
Mr Parker says an 80kph speed restriction also applies where the motorways merge.
The NZTA has been opening the SH20/1 Manukau Extension in stages since August to ensure people get the benefit of the new motorway as quickly as possible.
“Drivers have been enthusiastic about this new section of the Auckland motorway network, but there is still work to be done where the two motorways connect and this is having an impact on the smooth flow of traffic during the busiest time of day.
“Our contractors are still working on site in a motorway environment, and people should drive with care, particularly with the narrower lane on the Southwestern in operation, and be aware that they are travelling through a live construction zone,” adds Mr Parker.
Separate works at the western end of the project – the connecting road between the Cavendish and Puhinui interchanges – is on target for completion in late December.
The SH1/20 motorway connection marks the southern end of the Western Ring Route, a road of national significance. When completed, it will provide a 48 kilometre-long alternative around Auckland providing improved links to Auckland International Airport and easing pressure on SH1 through central Auckland.