The NZ Transport Agency is reminding drivers to plan ahead for expected changes to traffic patterns when the new State Highway 18 Hobsonville motorway opens in early August.
The NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker says drivers should still expect some delays during the morning and afternoon peaks.
"The new motorway will be a big step forward in providing more reliable travel times and improving safety by moving thousands of vehicles away from local roads, but there will be some hold-ups during the peaks, and it will not stop all congestion in north-west Auckland," Mr Parker says.
"The Hobsonville project marks another step towards the completion of the Western Ring Route, but there is still a lot of work to be done before we finish this motorway alternative to SH1 and can deliver all of its benefits to drivers," Mr Parker adds.
Morning queues are expected to occur near Westgate when traffic on the Hobsonville motorway merges with city bound vehicles on the Northwestern Motorway (SH16).
"The Northwestern is already busy in the morning around the Westgate area," Mr Parker adds.
In the afternoon, queues are expected on the Upper Harbour Highway (SH 18) at the Constellation Drive intersection with the Northern Motorway (SH1). There could also be queues at the Brigham Creek roundabout narrows to one lane heading north-west.
The NZTA plans to open the motorway connecting the North Shore to west Auckland six months ahead of schedule on Sunday 7 August, weather permitting. The $220M project has two components: a six kilometre four-lane motorway between the Upper Harbour Bridge in the east and the Northwestern Motorway (SH16) in the west; and a three kilometre four-lane extension of SH16 from Westgate to a new roundabout at Brigham Creek Road.
Up to 35,000 vehicles daily are expected to use the new Hobsonville route, and 14,000 daily on the Brigham Creek extension. Traffic is expected to reduce by 80% on Hobsonville Road, improving travel on what is rated New Zealand's sixth worst road for fatalities and crashes.
Mr Parker says there will be significant change to driving conditions when the motorway is opened, and people will need to drive with care as they get used to the new lanes and markings.
"It's important that motorists follow the signs giving directions on which way to go. They should also leave extra time for their journeys in the morning - particularly if they're travelling to the city on the Northwestern Motorway."
The NZTA advises drivers to plan to use the new routes:
Ramp signals will operate at the new SH18 motorway on-ramps and the Westgate entrance to the Northwestern Motorway to help manage traffic flows and assist merging. Extra cameras will also monitor traffic flows from the Joint Traffic Operations Centre at Smales Farm to help clear congestion the morning bottleneck on SH16 earlier.
Mr Parker says that traffic control measures are essential to help avoid unnecessary delays for motorists,
"We are aiming to keep traffic moving on the new lanes which are now much safer than the old Hobsonville Road," he says.
The motorway was built within three years and completes the northern stretch of the Western Ring Route, one of the Government's Roads of National Significance. The 48 kilometre-long route will improve connections for freight and passengers between north, west and south Auckland, and Auckland International Airport.
For more information on the project and the Hobsonville community open day (Saturday 6 August), visit www.nzta.govt.nz/hobsonville(external link)
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