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Plan ahead for holiday traffic

MEDIA RELEASE
NZ Transport Agency Wellington Regional Office
22 December 2009

Plan ahead for holiday traffic

With traffic expected to be heavy over the Christmas holiday period, NZTA is advising motorists to plan ahead to avoid expected delays.

During peak travel times, NZTA will be closing the SH 1 northbound passing lanes at Waikanae and Te Horo and the southbound passing lane north of Otaki.

The closure of the northbound passing lanes will take effect from 10am Thursday 24 December and will be reopened on Sunday, 27 December at approximately 4.00pm or a time appropriate to traffic flows.

On Monday, 4 January NZTA will close the SH 1 southbound passing lane, north of Otaki, which will be reopened at about 9.00pm depending on traffic flows.

Wellington Operations Manager Mark Owen says the closure of the passing lanes is done for safety purposes and to improve traffic flows.

“The lanes will be appropriately signposted and fenced off with traffic cones, but we’re reminding people to obey the normal road rules by keeping left.

“If traffic remains heavy, passing lanes will remain closed longer until we are satisfied it is practical to reopen them. We also remind people who intend travelling south on 4 January to be aware that there may be additional congestion on SH1 as a result of the Otaki Races, which are being held that day.”

Mr Owen says the public often express concern that closing the passing lanes causes congestion, however, NZTA experience demonstrates benefits for both traffic flow and safety.

“Closing the passing lanes produces a steadier flow of single lane traffic and reduces the number of vehicles trying to get one car length ahead during a busy period on the road. By keeping people in one steady stream we also reduce the potential for accidents at the merge of the passing lanes.”

Mr Owen says these closures are routine and are supported by the Police.

The NZTA will stop all road works on the state highway network over the Christmas/New Year period from midday on Wednesday 23 December until 5 January to help reduce congestion. This excludes any work needed to be done for emergency purposes and routine maintenance activities.

Meanwhile, Mr Owen said people should plan their journeys well in advance, drive with patience and avoid taking chances when turning or overtaking. “Driving with courtesy can keep traffic flowing smoothly and helps ensure the roads remain safe. We also encourage drivers to take breaks to avoid driver fatigue.

ENDS

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