Traffic is flowing smoothly through Auckland's Victoria Park Tunnel, which opened at 4.48am today – three months earlier than scheduled. By 9am an estimated 10,000 vehicles had used the tunnel.
Major road works were completed over the weekend to enable the tunnel to be opened. These included building approximately 500 square metres of new motorway from scratch to form the connection between the existing motorway and the tunnel.
The NZ Transport Agency is thanking Aucklanders for avoiding the city’s central motorway junction over the weekend, allowing the final construction work to connect the tunnel to SH1 to be carried out without causing major traffic congestion.
Motorists heeded warnings to avoid using this section of motorway and use alternate routes north, resulting in a significant reduction in traffic volumes between the central motorway junction and the Harbour Bridge.
The opening of the tunnel is the first step in the staged completion of the wider Victoria Park Tunnel project to upgrade the capacity of State Highway 1 between the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Auckland CBD. The $340m project will be the first of the Government’s seven Roads of National Significance, prioritised to support national and regional economic growth to be completed, in March next year.
Today’s tunnel opening means that approximately 55,000 northbound vehicles a day will now go under rather than over Victoria Park.
With northbound traffic gone from the Victoria Park flyover, work will start immediately to reconfigure the Victoria Park flyover for southbound traffic. The flyover, which has been a major traffic bottleneck in central Auckland for many years, is due to open in its new configuration in January 2012.
The third and final release of new motorway capacity will be in March when the third tunnel lane and an additional northbound lane through St Marys Bay open to traffic.