With traffic expected to be heavy at times over Easter, the NZ Transport Agency is advising Wellington motorists to plan ahead to stay safe and remain one step ahead of delays.
“We’re expecting large numbers of motorists heading out on their Easter holidays, and it's important that people are ready for the possibility of hold-ups when they set out on their journeys," says Central Operations Manager Mark Owen.
"If people plan their travel in advance, it can ease stress and reduce the need to hurry, and this means safer and more enjoyable journeys."
To help people plan for their journeys, the NZTA has studied previous Easter travel patterns to identify when traffic tends to be heavy as motorists stream out of, then back into, the Capital.
Mr Owen says the busiest times leaving Wgtn (northbound) are likely to be 3pm to 8pm on Thursday and 10am to 3pm on Friday. Coming back into Wellington (southbound) the busiest times are likely to be Easter Sunday 4pm to 7pm and 12 noon to 6pm on Easter Monday. Mr Owen says motorists should either plan their travel around these times if possible, or allow longer for journeys.
During peak travel times, NZTA will be closing the SH1 northbound passing lane, north of Te Horo, as well as the southbound passing lane, north of Otaki.
The NZTA will close the northbound passing lane from the morning of Thursday 28 March and reopen at around mid to late afternoon on Friday 29 March, subject to traffic flows.
On Sunday 31 March and Monday 1 April, NZTA will close the SH1 southbound passing lane, north of Otaki, from late morning until late afternoon, subject to traffic flows.
Mr Owen says the closure of the passing lanes, which is supported by the Police, is done for safety purposes and to improve traffic flows.
"Passing lanes only really serve their purpose when traffic is flowing freely. When the road is packed to capacity, having passing lanes open effectively results in 'queue jumping'. Furthermore, it upsets the gradual flow when they re-enter the traffic, and can result in nose to tail crashes."
"That's the reason the passing lanes are closed during these busy holiday peaks– it means more people get through and it’s safer for everyone."
“The lanes will be appropriately signposted and fenced off with traffic cones, and we’re reminding people to obey the normal road rules by keeping left.
“If traffic remains heavy, passing lanes will remain closed longer until we are satisfied traffic flows have reduced.”
Mr Owen says NZTA will also be providing temporary traffic management measures, within the Otaki township, to improve traffic flow, including local traffic diversions to minimise the merging of traffic at the roundabout. This will be fully operational by mid morning on Easter Sunday and easter Monday and will be removed by late evening, or when traffic flow levels have returned to normal
NZTA will stop all road works on the State Highway network from 12.30pm on Thursday 28 March until 9.00am on Tuesday 2 April. This excludes any emergency work or routine maintenance activities.
Meanwhile, Mr Owen said people should ensure they are well prepared for their journeys, check their vehicles before leaving, drive with patience and avoid taking chances when turning or overtaking.
“Driving with courtesy can keep traffic flowing smoothly and helps ensure the roads remain safe. We also encourage drivers to take breaks to avoid driving tired."