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Travelling north for Waitangi weekend?

Travelling north for Waitangi weekend? - Take alternative routes!

With Waitangi Day falling on a Thursday this year, many Aucklanders are expected to take Friday off and make the most of another long weekend. Motorists travelling to and from Whangarei, Dargaville and Northland for the Waitangi long weekend should use alternative routes to avoid excessive queuing, delays and frustration.

“Use State Highway 16, or get stuck in traffic on State Highway 1, the choice is a simple one,” says Transit Regional Manager Wayne McDonald.

As many people will be heading for Matakana, Omaha and other points east, the section of SH1 between Silverdale and Warkworth is expected to be heavily congested once more. “So if you’re heading to Whangarei, Dargaville and Northland, it will make much more sense to use SH16,” says Mr McDonald.

He says that SH16 can be accessed by travelling to the end of the Northwestern Motorway and then through Kumeu and Helensville to Wellsford. Alternatively, it can be reached from SH1 via the Silverdale off-ramp then SH17 and Kahikatea Flat Road.

SH16 is a lightly longer route but during peak times especially, motorists will find it quicker and more pleasant. “Even though it is a rural state highway, SH16 is in very good condition and time-wise it is only fractionally longer than SH1,” says Mr McDonald.

As with Auckland Anniversary weekend, Transit, the New Zealand Police and Rodney District Council will be working closely to help make travelling easier and safer for those heading north for the weekend.

“About a third of motorists going to, and returning from, Northland used the SH16 alternative over the Auckland Anniversary weekend and as a result traffic flows on SH1 were much less congested, especially between Warkworth and Orewa,” says Mr McDonald.

To help facilitate traffic flows this weekend, a number of steps will be implemented, particularly on Thursday 6 and Sunday 9 February:

Northbound traffic flows on SH1A (Northern Motorway between Silverdale interchange and Orewa roundabout) will be monitored and before queues form, an electronic variable message sign three kilometres south of Silverdale will advise motorists to leave the motorway at the Silverdale interchange where they can either head north along SH1 through Orewa, or use SH17 and Kahikatea Flat Rd to access SH16 at Kaukapakapa. To get to SH17 motorists will be guided with special signs.

If required, Police on point duty will direct traffic through the roundabouts on Orewa’s Centreway Road, and at the intersection of Westhoe Road and SH1.

Police will monitor the pedestrian crossing on SH1 at Wellsford and may provide a pointsman for the SH16 intersection if necessary.

On Sunday 9 February, a variable message sign north of Wellsford will recommend that southbound traffic branch off SH1 at Wellsford and use SH16 to return to Auckland. Motorists can then either continue on SH16 to West Auckland and the Northwestern Motorway, or branch off at Kaukapakapa and follow Kahikatea Flat Road and SH17 to rejoin SH1 at Silverdale. Using SH16 will mean motorists will avoid dealing with returning traffic joining SH1 at Warkworth from Matakana, Sandspit and other points to the east.

On Sunday, southbound passing lanes on SH1 at Johnson’s Hill and Waiwera Hill may be closed to enable traffic to flow more uniformly in a single lane. The southbound passing lane at Kelly Hill– north of Wellsford – will also be closed.

“Closing the passing lanes at peak congestion periods has been very effective, showing that traffic flows can be improved significantly,” says Mr McDonald.

Transit has also set up a free 0800 number for those wanting more information about the alternative route north - 0800 737 325.

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