The NZ Transport Agency says ramp signals will start operating at the connection of the Southwestern and Southern motorways [State Highways 20 and 1] at Manukau in south Auckland on Monday, 13 December, to improve traffic flows and driver safety.
The ramp signals are located on the southbound lanes of the Southwestern Motorway just before they join SH1. The existing highway layout at the location of the signals is being widened from two to three lanes to increase the number of vehicles able to merge with Southern Motorway.
The NZTA announced in October that it would install the ramp signals as it responded to drivers’ concerns about congestion during the afternoon peak at the merge of the two motorways.
"We believe ramp signals are the most effective way to manage merging traffic," says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker. "They have a double advantage of improving safety and smoothing the flow of traffic as the two motorways join."
The three ramp signal lanes can be used by all vehicles - cars, vans, trucks and buses - and there is no priority access for heavy vehicles as there is elsewhere on Auckland’s motorway network.
Mr Parker says the ramp signals will only operate at busy times on the two motorways like the afternoon peak.
Drivers are advised that there could be delays as people get used to the signals. Electronic signs on the Southwestern Motorway will alert people that they are approaching ramp signals, and there will be new lane markings on both motorways.
‘People should drive with care and remain in their lanes when they get the green light to merge," he says.
Other traffic control measures introduced in October - including lane and speed restrictions - will be lifted when the ramp signals are switched on.
Mr Parker says the NZTA is aware of drivers’ concerns about the hold-ups that they have encountered when traffic volumes are high, and the introduction of ramp-signals was one way to ease congestion.
"Elsewhere on the Auckland motorway network, ramp signals are effectively regulating traffic and helping clear peak hour congestion earlier," he says.
Longer term, the NZTA is investigating the possibility of bringing forward work to widen the Southern Motorway south of Hill Rd in Manurewa to three lanes in each direction.
The SH20/1 motorway connection marks the southern end of the Western Ring Route, a road of national significance. When completed, it will provide a 48 kilometre-long motorway alternative around Auckland and ease pressure on SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.