Just over a month into construction on the Ngauranga to Aotea upgrade, the NZ Transport Agency is reminding drivers that sticking to the temporary 70km/h speed limit through the area is important for the safety of onsite workers.
The Transport Agency says work on the ‘smart motorway’ project is picking up, with teams currently working on the barrier removal and drainage modifications.
“Now that work has moved further south from the interchange, we have made some changes to signage and traffic management to better match the speed restrictions to the work area.” says Rod James, the Transport Agency’s Wellington Highway Manager.
“The temporary 70km/h speed limits are lower than drivers are used to on the motorway, but they are in place for a good reason,” says Rod James, the Transport Agency’s Wellington Highway Manager.
“Sticking to the reduced speed limit is an important part of protecting the people working on the site, as well as for the safety of road users moving through the narrowed lanes and negotiating the shortened merging area on the motorway.
“To date, most of the work has been carried out overnight. And while we appreciate that the reduced speed limit may feel slower than necessary, it’s important to remember that it also provides road users time to react to changing conditions,” said Mr James.
Senior Sergeant Richard Hocken, Road Policing Response Manager, is also encouraging motorists to be mindful of the safety of those working in the area as well their own.
"Given this is a construction area it is important we give everyone a little extra space to manoeuvre while the upgrade is taking place. We'll have extra staff on hand to remind motorists to slow down for the safety of everyone," said Sergeant Hocken.
The longest and most complex part of the Ngauranga to Aotea upgrade involves removing and replacing the gravel-filled central median safety barrier. Preparations began in January with narrowing the southbound lanes, shortening the merge and repainting the lines. 600m of temporary concrete barrier was then installed on either side of the existing barrier to create a safe work space.
“The barrier replacement work has moved along to an area with more space, and workers will soon be on site 24 hours a day for over a year. As well as seeing people working in the central median zone, road users will notice construction vehicles entering and exiting the area (not during peak hours). The increased activity will make the work site’s inherent safety risks more obvious and, we hope, further encourage drivers to stick to the speed limit.
“However, in the meantime,” said Mr James, “we’ve taken a few extra steps to remind drivers that the posted speed limit is the safe and legal limit.”
“This week, we’ve installed static road works speed signs as well as a speed activated display to alert drivers to their actual speed. We’ll continue to remind drivers via the variable message signs and social media about the reduced speed limits, and Road Police will step up their activity through the area.”
The Ngauranga to Aotea upgrade aims to reduce congestion, make journey times more reliable, and improve safety on the busiest section of highway in the Wellington region. It will result in New Zealand’s first ever ‘smart motorway’.
Making the motorway flow more smoothly will also benefit people using other roads in the area. This is because the number of drivers using these routes to avoid congestion on the highway will be reduced. This will lead to improved public transport journeys through this area, with more reliable journey times through this section.
Wellington’s smart motorway is due to be operational in April 2016.
For construction updates and more information about the smart motorway, visit nzta.govt.nz/smartmotorway(external link)
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