As traffic on Auckland's motorway network returns to normal, the NZ Transport Agency is grateful for the patience of drivers during yesterday's heavy congestion after a crash closed the critical Newmarket Viaduct link on the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1).
“Traffic incidents like this when we’re trying to get home to our families after work is very frustrating and this crash could not have happened at a worse time nor at a worse location,” says the NZTA’s Regional Traffic Operations Manager, Kathryn Musgrave.
The crash involving a truck and van blocked three of the viaduct’s southbound lanes just before 4pm and the start of the afternoon peak.
“The viaduct is part of the busiest section of motorway in New Zealand and for a short time we had to close all four southbound lanes so that emergency services could safely attend to a trapped person,” Ms Musgrave says. “We did everything we could to get traffic moving as quickly as possible, but treating those injured in a crash has to be the number one priority.”
The NZTA and Auckland Transport have a Joint Traffic Operations Centre at Takapuna which was the command centre for managing the city’s motorways and local roads yesterday.
The centre used a variety of ways to alert drivers and keep them informed about the Newmarket crash and its impact. They included the use of electronic motorways signs, social media like Twitter, contact with the media, informing third parties which operate traffic information services, and the centre’s own website which provides real time information from its network of traffic cameras.
Ms Musgrave says the use of technology to provide information to enable drivers to make better informed choices about their travel is growing. A new service known as On The Move will be launched shortly which will enable people to sign up for information about crashes, road works and driving conditions on their frequently used routes.
Ms Musgrave says the completion of the Western Ring Route road of national significance – including more lanes on the Northwestern Motorway causeway and the Waterview Connection tunnels – will provide a key motorway alternative to SH1.
“The Western Ring Route will mean that that if there is a crash on one motorway, there will be less risk of parts of the city coming to a standstill like yesterday.”