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Road Construction Projects to Beat Gridlock


Road Construction Projects to Beat Auckland Gridlock

The Auckland Business Forum has released a list of road construction projects it wants the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to give urgent attention to in the financial year starting on 1 July.

The list includes five small and medium-sized projects on the motorway network where a lot of Auckland’s daily girdlock occurs and that have been on NZTA’s plans for many years but there is currently no confirmed construction scheduled. They are:

SH1 Mt Wellington overbridge near Sylvia Park where the southern motorway narrows from 3 to 2 lanes in each direction: This part of the southern motorway is gridlocked for large periods of the working day - widening the bridge to at least 3 lanes in each direction is arguably as urgent as current projects to widen SH1 at the Newmarket and Victoria Park viaducts.

SH20A George Bolt Drive intersection with Kirkbride Rd on the main route to Auckland Airport: Around 80,000 vehicles use the intersection every day, and this is expected to increase drastically during the period of the Rugby World Cup in September next year. The $70 million project involves eliminating the intersection with an overbridge and/or short tunnel.

SH 16 Grafton Gully (Stage 3) where it meets Stanley Street and The Strand: 3000 freight vehicles heading to-from the Ports of Auckland each day converge with commuter traffic travelling between inner and eastern suburbs heading to the CBD. A long-planned project exists to separate port freight and other traffic.

SH18 Upper Harbour Highway connection with SH1 Northern Motorway upgrade between Constellation Drive and Greville Rd at Albany. An upgrade of this section of the northern motorway, including bus shoulder lanes (and/or busway extension) is needed for when the Western Ring Route is completed in a few years otherwise the already bad daily gridlock in this part of the network will become much worse.

SH20B Puhinui Corridor from SH20 Manukau Extension to Auckland Airport: An upgrade from 2-lane to 4-lane expressway including bus shoulder lanes and priority facilities at intersections is needed for the increasing commuter, business and tourism traffic travelling between the Airport area, Manukau, eastern suburbs and south of Auckland.

“The timing to launch a new wave of smaller projects could not be better,” says Auckland Business Forum chairman, Michael Barnett. “To get the full value for money and traffic relief from the larger projects currently under construction, some of which are scheduled to be completed this year, these bottlenecks need fixing – and it is urgent.
“Otherwise all we are doing when we open a new section of motorway is shift the congestion a few hundred metres to a bottleneck elsewhere on the network.”

The Forum is also encouraging NZTA to keep its foot to the floor to progress four major long-planned projects needed to give Auckland a modern co-ordinated network which gives travellers, business and bus services real options for getting around Auckland efficiently. They are:

SH20 Waterview Tunnel needed to complete the Western Ring Route and provide an alternative to the southern and northern motorways for travelling between south and north Auckland. Construction on the $1.6 billion project is scheduled to start next year and be completed by 2015/16.

SH1-20 East-West corridor linking the southern and western motorways between East Tamaki and Onehunga: Various investigations from the 1960’s have reconfirmed the need for the link, the latest showing that if not completed by 2020, traffic in the area will be reduced to a crawl throughout most working days. Freight traffic volumes on local roads along the route are higher than on most state highways across New Zealand.

The Eastern Corridor or AMETI (Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transit Initiative) to provide efficient access to the fast growing business and residential suburbs of east and south east Auckland. Multi-billion dollar economic benefits have been shown for this project. Currently the project is being built in small stages that stretch its completion out to the 2030’s.

Third Waitemata Harbour Crossing currently under investigation and urgently needing a firm timetable to address the growing unease over the long-term life of the clip-on lanes of the existing bridge.

These four projects are listed in the just-released 30-year Auckland Regional Transport Strategy, notes Mr Barnett. “As important as they are to Auckland’s long-term prospects, it is indisputable that without urgent action to unlock the smaller traffic-stalling bottlenecks on the existing motorway and regional networks, the billions of dollars we are spending on the big projects will do little to help ease the daily frustration of Auckland drivers.”

ENDS

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