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Plan early to avoid busy roads at Christmas

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The NZ Transport Agency is advising drivers that heavy holiday traffic will start building up on state highways leading out of Auckland from mid-morning on Thursday [24 December], and that they should plan their journeys outside the peaks to avoid delays.

The NZ Transport Agency is advising drivers that heavy holiday traffic will start building up on state highways leading out of Auckland from mid-morning on Thursday [24 December], and that they should plan their journeys outside the peaks to avoid delays.

"Traffic to and from Northland, in particular, will be busy from tomorrow morning right through to New Year," said the NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Wayne McDonald.

The NZTA said there were options for people to make their journeys smoother and easier:-

  • Pre-pay tolls on the Northern Gateway Toll Road. 
  • Use SH16 as an alternative to SH1
  • Avoid peak travel times

Traffic volumes on SH1 jump almost 50% during peak travel times at Christmas and New Year.  They were consistently heavy between 9am and 6pm every day.

Mr McDonald said from experience, one of the busiest sections of SH1 will be between Puhoi and Warkworth and there would be delays at Warkworth. Traffic counts taken just south of the town over the holiday period last year showed traffic volumes close to 50% higher than normal, with up to 13,500 vehicles heading north daily. At the same time, many vehicles also travel down from the north towards Auckland. This could create an issue for northbound drivers trying to turn right to access the eastern beaches.

"If people can plan their travel outside the peaks they'll avoid the busy roads and reduce the time they have to spend in their cars when summertime temperatures at their highest," Mr McDonald added.

The NZTA is urging people travelling longer distances to consider SH16 to Wellsford as a more free-flowing alternative.  SH16 can be accessed from Northwestern Motorway through Helensville, or from the Silverdale interchange on SH1 just north of Auckland.

The NZTA will work with police to actively manage traffic to help people avoid hold-ups wherever possible to ensure they reach their holiday destinations safely.  Roadside electronic messaging will also advise motorists of traffic conditions ahead.

Expected queues at the kiosks located at both approaches to the Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 can be avoided by paying on-line at www.tollroad.govt.nz or by freephone 0800 40 20 20. The freephone call centre will be open from 8am to 6pm daily, except for Christmas Day when it will be closed. Changes have been made to the on-line facility to make it simpler to use, and the time people have to pay after using the toll road extended from three to five days.

The NZTA has stopped all roads work on the state highway network over the Christmas/New Year period to help reduce congestion. However, both lanes on the southbound clip-on on the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be closed from Boxing Day until 5 January so that the surface can be re-sealed.

"This is part of our on-going care and maintenance of the harbour bridge, and we do critical work like this at this time of year when traffic volumes in Auckland are relatively low," Mr McDonald said.

Whether it is crossing the bridge, or travelling to the beaches the message is the same – drive with care and patience," Mr McDonald said. "Our priority at the NZTA is to ensure that everyone not only has a relaxing and happy holiday break, but a safe one too."

For more information please contact:

Ewart Barnsley
Auckland media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
T 09 368 2142
M 0272 137 616

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