The NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers to plan ahead to help minimise the impact of scheduled Easter weekend closures and detours at two of Auckland's busiest motorway interchanges - Gillies Avenue on the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) and Maioro Street on the Southwestern Motorway (SH20).
The NZTA's acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, says the closures are necessary to complete vital work and improvements on the motorway network.
"We will do everything we can to keep disruptions to a minimum, but these are both well used interchanges and some delays are inevitable - particularly for people using Gillies Avenue to reach Auckland International Airport," Mr Mutton says.
The section of Gillies Avenue under the viaduct will be closed from 10pm this Thursday (5 April) until 2pm on Easter Sunday (8 April) so that a section of the old northbound Newmarket Viaduct spanning the road can be demolished. Motorway on-ramp and off-ramp access will be reduced to one lane.
The NZTA says there will be two alternative routes signposted to the airport.
At Maioro Street, there will be a series of Easter closures to complete surfacing of the highway that will impact on the interchange and a section of the Southwestern Motorway.
"We will have detours in place to help drivers, but people should allow more time for their journeys particularly if they are using the Southwestern for access to and from the airport," Mr Mutton says.
In Northland, there is an 80kph restriction at either end of the Bulls Gorge project on SH10 and a 50kph restriction through the gorge. Some work will continue beside the highway if the weather is suitable. Care is also needed on SH1 at Cloughs Road and at Templetons near Mangamuka where the highway surface is being upgraded.
Easter coincides with the start of school holidays and Mr Mutton says all highways in Auckland and Northland will be busy. During Easter last year there were about 75,000 trips on the Northern Gateway Toll Road - 17,000 higher than the preceding two weekends. Good Friday was the busiest day with 22,000 trips.
The NZTA advises people to go online at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) to buy their tolls before leaving home.
"It's the best way to take full advantage of the toll road and avoid the need to stop at the kiosks and wait in a queue to pay," Mr Mutton says.
The NZTA's call centre will open on Good Friday and Easter Monday for those who want to pay their tolls by phone. It will be closed on Saturday and Sunday. Everyone has up to five days to pay after using the toll road.
Drivers can choose two free alternative routes to the toll road: SH17 from Silverdale through Orewa to Puhoi, and SH16 from Auckland to Wellsford. SH16 by-passes the Warkworth area on SH1 which is often congested during holiday weekends, and provides a smoother journey between Northland and Auckland.
Mr Mutton says the NZTA will be working with Police to ensure that traffic flows smoothly on the state highway network.
"People should plan their journeys to avoid congestion and allow extra time for their travel. The end of daylight saving combined with unsettled weather forecast for Easter will make driving conditions challenging. Our priority at the NZTA is to ensure that everyone returns home safely after a great holiday," Mr Mutton says.
People can update travel conditions on www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link). Information on Northland highways and roads is available at freephone 0800 111 655.