The NZ Transport Agency is encouraging drivers in Auckland and Northland to allow extra time for their Easter holiday journeys because of road improvements projects on State Highways in both regions.
"This time of the year is the height of our construction period when we're working at capacity on those improvements before the winter sets in," said the NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Wayne McDonald.
"Although most work will stop over the long weekend, drivers will still need to take care travelling through construction sites. Speed restrictions will be in place, and they need to be observed to avoid the risk of loose metal damaging vehicles," Mr McDonald said.
Sites where care is needed include:
SH1: Warkworth township
SH16: Punganui Stream bridge replacement near Helensville
SH1: Cape Reinga sealing
SH1: Old North Road near Hikurangi
SH1: Kawakawa to Ross Rd
SH10: Waitangi Bridge near Kerikeri
The NZTA will actively manage traffic to minimise delays, but it says people should still allow more time for their travel.
"Easter coincides with the start of the school holidays and roads in Northland and Auckland will be very busy. We want people to avoid congestion if they can," added Mr McDonald.
Traffic counts from previous Easter weekends have shown a 50 percent increase in the number of vehicles using SH1 between Puhoi and Warkworth compared with mid-week volumes. Northbound traffic this year is likely to start building up from Thursday afternoon.
Mr McDonald says SH1 at Warkworth is traditionally congested during peak holiday times, and people driving beyond the town should still consider SH16 as an alternative despite the replacement of the Punganui Stream bridge on the highway near Helensville. Construction of the wider and safer bridge is south of the usual connecting route between SH1 at the Silverdale interchange and SH16.
"Traffic numbers are normally lighter on SH16, so those people heading up to Wellsford and beyond enjoy a smoother journey," added Mr McDonald.
The Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 is also expected to be busy. The NZTA says people can avoid expected queues at the manual payment kiosks by purchasing their tolls on-line at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) or by freephone on 0800 40 20 20 so that they do not have to interrupt their journey by stopping. People have up to five days to pay after using the toll road.
The NZTA will work with police to manage state highways and other key roads in Northland and Auckland to help people avoid delays wherever possible. On-road electronic signs will advise motorists of traffic conditions. Cameras will be used at Warkworth to help monitor traffic flow and traffic signal phases. Traffic signals will also be used at the Punganui Stream bridge.
"Planning ahead and allowing plenty of time will help people avoid congestions and arrive for their holidays safely and with less stress," Mr McDonald said.