The NZ Transport Agency is starting a new service for drivers to help them make better informed decisions about their travel on Auckland’s motorway network.
From Monday, 3 May, the first of 250 electronic message signs will be progressively commissioned on the approaches to motorway on-ramps which will show estimated journey times in minutes for travel to a destination via a motorway.
“It’s all part of our focus to proactively manage Auckland’s motorways so that road users and freight operators can move more efficiently, and traffic flows and safety are improved,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker.
The electronic signs will display three key destinations and the estimated time it takes to reach them. Travel information will be updated regularly as traffic conditions on the motorways change. The system is designed to provide estimates that, for a typical 25 minute trip, will be within four minutes of actual journey times.
“The signs will encourage motorists to make informed decisions about their journey time and their preferred route, and they will be really useful for commuters travelling to and from the city,” Mr Parker said. “They also help improve traffic flows and provide more predictable travel times.”
The first signs will be switched on in the city-bound direction at Oteha Valley Road (Northern Motorway), Princes Street, Highbrook Drive, Takanini, Papakura (Southern Motorway), Te Atatu Road and Lincoln Road (Northwestern Motorway).
They will initially be turned on during the middle periods of the day, and their hours progressively extended as more of the system is commissioned.
The signs are part of a series of new motorway management and traveller information initiatives by the NZTA to provide motorists with more information to plan their journeys. Other initiatives already operating on the motorway network include the series of managed priority lanes, lane control signals and ramp signals.
Mr Parker says the travel time signs will be operated from the NZTA’s new Traffic Operations Centre at Smales Farm in Takapuna, which was officially commissioned last Friday [30 April].
“The new centre has been developed to meet the demands on the motorway network for a rapidly growing city. It controls all of our operations and technology, and it allows us to provide motorists with information that they can use like new travel time service,” he added.
Mr Parker said the four minute estimate journey time would be based on the best available information and normal motorway conditions, and added that motorway incidents could impact on journey times.
A range of cameras and vehicle detection systems will monitor traffic speeds on arterial roads at each on-ramp and throughout all of the length of the motorways to ensure the system operates efficiently. Operators at the centre also have a range of closed circuit tv cameras giving a continuous view of traffic operations in each area.
The signs work by gathering data from detectors and loops under the road as well as individual waiting times at each on-ramp. The information calculates the average speed of vehicles, which is then used to determine expected journey time to each destination.
The signs can also be used to alert motorists if there is an incident or congestion on the motorway, and provide information for drivers about an alternative on-ramp or local road if they chose.
The journey time signs will be progressively rolled out on the approaches to all motorway on-ramps over the next three months. The NZTA is also working closely with Auckland’s local authorities to manage and assist traffic flows on the local approaches to the on-ramps as part of its integrated approach to traffic operations across the Auckland region.