The Hobsonville Deviation motorway project has its open day today, and properly opens for traffic tomorrow morning. This is a fairly critical part of the Western Ring Route and will make a big difference to Hobsonville Road in particular – removing around 80% of the traffic from this road. There’s a fairly informative video of the project here:
What’s interesting though is to look at the tone of much of NZTA’s media activity surrounding the motorway opening. Instead of trumpeting the project as a grand solution to traffic problems in the area – like they have done for previous motorway projects, the main message they’re trying to get through seems to be that people shouldn’t expect the project to be a panacea to solving congestion. For example:
The NZ Transport Agency is reminding drivers to plan ahead for expected changes to traffic patterns when the new State Highway 18 Hobsonville motorway opens in early August.
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker says drivers should still expect some delays during the morning and afternoon peaks.
“The new motorway will be a big step forward in providing more reliable travel times and improving safety by moving thousands of vehicles away from local roads, but there will be some hold-ups during the peaks, and it will not stop all congestion in north-west Auckland,” Mr Parker says.
“The Hobsonville project marks another step towards the completion of the Western Ring Route, but there is still a lot of work to be done before we finish this motorway alternative to SH1 and can deliver all of its benefits to drivers,” Mr Parker adds.
Morning queues are expected to occur near Westgate when traffic on the Hobsonville motorway merges with city bound vehicles on the Northwestern Motorway (SH16).
“The Northwestern is already busy in the morning around the Westgate area,” Mr Parker adds.
In the afternoon, queues are expected on the Upper Harbour Highway (SH 18) at the Constellation Drive intersection with the Northern Motorway (SH1). There could also be queues at the Brigham Creek roundabout narrows to one lane heading north-west.
One thinks that NZTA have learned a bit of a lesson from the opening of the Manukau Connection project – which seemed to cause more traffic problems that it fixed due to a huge number of merging lanes.
I had kind of hoped that perhaps this change in approach was due to NZTA recognising that building more motorways tends to only shift congestion, rather than fix it, but it seems that the greater likelihood is to drive home the message of how important they think it is for the massive proposed widening of the northwest motorway to proceed.