The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that a three-month closure of the Wellington Street motorway on ramp will affect all traffic between the CBD and the North Shore.
The on-ramp – which provides access from the Auckland CBD and Ponsonby to State Highway 1 for traffic heading north across the Auckland Harbour Bridge - will close for three months from Monday, 23 August so that supporting walls for the southern approach to the Victoria Park motorway tunnel can be built.
NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker, says the on-ramp closure is necessary as construction of the Victoria Park motorway tunnel in central Auckland is reaching a critical stage.
Mr Parker said the NZTA was urging all commuters to the CBD from the North Shore and beyond to be aware of the closure and to plan for the possible impacts. Mr Parker said traffic diverting from Wellington Street would test other northbound on ramps, particularly in the 4pm to 6pm homeward peak.
“We will be making changes to ensure the Fanshawe Street and Stanley Street northbound links can accommodate additional traffic.”
The on-road changes include adjusting the ramp lights at the Stanley Street northbound link from 23 August, to get more vehicles through per green phase. This will reduce queuing time. Once on the motorway, traffic is expected to flow freely because there will be no vehicles merging from Wellington Street.
On the approach to the Fanshawe Street motorway on ramp, traffic will be kept moving by removing the right turns from Beaumont Street. Mr Parker says traffic heading north from the Wynyard Quarter will need to access Fanshawe Street at the Halsey Street intersection, where lanes will be reconfigured and a pedestrian crossing moved to cater for more right-turns.
Mr Parker said the Wellington Street on ramp closure will not affect or be affected by the NZTA’s plan to close the Southern Motorway at Newmarket for 36 hours on September 4 and 5. “The two closures will have entirely different impacts on traffic – one will affect southbound traffic over a single weekend, while the other affects northbound traffic leaving the CBD over a three month period.”
Mr Parker said space constraints and the proximity of live traffic lanes meant the supporting walls for the tunnel approach could only be built with the Wellington Street on ramp completely closed.
“The only viable alternative to closing the on ramp for three months would be to do the work at weekends only, which would require closing the on-ramp for 40 consecutive weekends,” he adds. “The three month closure is the most efficient and effective option.
“It means we can get in, get the work done and be out of there before the Christmas rush.”
An extensive communication campaign is backing the temporary closure. This includes a dedicated website for information: www.vicparktunnel.co.nz(external link)
The Victoria Park Tunnel project is one of the seven roads of national significance and construction of the 450 metre-long tunnel will eliminate the last serious traffic bottleneck on the central motorway junction between the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Newmarket Viaduct.