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Ramp signals to go live at Papakura and Takanini

Auckland Regional Office

1 December 2006

Ramp signals to go live at Papakura and Takanini

Transit New Zealand’s first ramp signals on the Southern Motorway will be switched on next week, marking a big step in the introduction of Transit's comprehensive traffic management system for Auckland.

The ramp signals at the Papakura southbound on-ramp will go live on Wednesday 6 December, followed by the signals at the Takanini southbound on-ramp during the week starting 11 December.

Ramp signals – traffic lights at on-ramps that manage the rate at which vehicles move down the ramp and onto the motorway - will help improve traffic flows and safety on the motorway, while enabling more consistent speeds and travel times.

The ramp signalling system consists of traffic signals, sensors in the road and electronic signs to advise motorists when the signals are operating. The signals operate only when necessary, during the morning and afternoon peaks and other busy times.

Transit regional manager Peter Spies says the installation of the first ramp signals at Papakura and Takanini, undertaken in close co-operation with the Papakura District Council, will improve a number of capacity and safety issues affecting this part of the Southern Motorway.

“There are particular safety benefits at Takanini where a series of rear-end collisions have involved southbound cars coming over the crest of the motorway overbridge and being unable to avoid crashing into the rear of vehicles slowing for the congested areas ahead.”

Mr Spies says the improvement in safety is a key factor in Transit’s $27 million Southern Motorway Ramp Signalling project, which will see ramp signals operating at 31 Southern Motorway on-ramps between Papakura in the south and Curran St in the north by August next year.

“The improvements will help to reduce congestion and improve safety on Auckland’s motorways, especially where vehicles from the on-ramp merge with motorway traffic. Often accidents occur when traffic is stop-start or travelling down crowded on-ramps, so ramp signals will help make merging easier and safer, which in turn will also help keep motorway traffic flowing, he says.

“This is in line with current international initiatives, which recognise that congestion cannot be reduced simply by building new motorways. Instead, tools such as ramp signals are used in conjunction with new roads to manage motorway usage in a way that improves overall traffic flow and safety. This in turn enables motorists to travel at more consistent speeds and achieve improved travel times.”

Transit will upgrade the northbound ramps at Papakura and Takanini and install ramp signals by mid 2007 and work is also underway to extend the fibre optic cabling – the backbone of the motorway communication system – from Takanini to the Drury Interchange.

The ramp signalling system will be monitored by the Traffic Management Centre (just north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge) using state-of-the art technology. A range of cameras and vehicle detection systems are employed to monitor traffic speeds and waiting times at on-ramps, to ensure the ramp signalling system operates effectively. This monitoring will be particularly important during the period when motorists adjust to each set of new signals that are activated.

The next series of ramp signals will go live when improvements to Auckland’s central motorways are completed in mid December. These will be positioned at the on-ramp to the Northern Motorway from the new Port and the Northwestern Motorway (SH16) links, as well as at the Curran St and Wellington St on-ramps heading north onto the Harbour Bridge.

Following the completion of the Southern Motorway project, 30 more ramp signals will be progressively installed on the Northern and Northwestern Motorways, over the next two years.

Selected on-ramps across all three motorways will include priority lanes for trucks and buses to bypass the ramp signals, with high occupancy vehicles (HOVs) being added at a later stage. Ramp signals look the same as regular traffic lights and have the same legal status. Police will be enforcing the ramp signals as part of their regular motorway patrols.

Ramp signalling is being rolled out across the motorway network in conjunction with other traffic management tools such as the ATMS (Advanced Traffic Management System) and ATIS (Advanced Traveller Information System) projects.


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