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Wellington Street onramp to reopen

NZTA have released their decision to reopen the Wellington Street onramp:

The NZTA is planning to re-open the on-ramp to all traffic in about six weeks after the completion of necessary work – including the installation of ramp signals and final pavement works – to ensure it is safe to use.

The recommendation to re-open was made after a detailed investigation by the NZTA, Auckland Transport, Opus Consultants and Beca Engineering of the potential effects on Auckland’s transport network from re-opening the on-ramp or keeping it closed.

The NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, said the agency and Auckland Transport would be discussing the re-opening plans with local residents and other interested parties over the next few weeks.

Mr Mutton said the NZTA and AT received 710 submissions about the on-ramp: 72% of those submissions wanted it re-opened, 18% preferred it to stay closed to general traffic and 10% wanted a partial re-opening.

“This is a strong response reflecting a high level of community interest in the future of the Wellington Street on-ramp,” says Mr Mutton.

The recommendation to re-open the ramp is based on a transport assessment which indicates there is current capacity for vehicles to use Wellington Street without affecting the performance of the motorway in central Auckland, except for a period in the afternoon peak.

“These findings, together with the feedback we have received from the community, have lead us to support the recommendation from our working group for an opening at this time.” Mr Mutton says.

Mr Mutton adds, however, that the findings also warn Auckland’s growth and development will have an impact on the performance of the city’s network in the future.

“While there is room now on the motorway network to re-open Wellington Street, capacity is expected to reduce over time as the network has to accommodate more and more vehicles. The NZTA and Auckland Transport will be working together to monitor and manage the performance of the motorways and local roads, including the Wellington Street on-ramp,”

Mr Mutton said ramp signals will be used again at Wellington Street to control access to the motorway.

“Previously between seven and eight thousand vehicles used the on-ramp every day. The critical time is the weekday afternoon peak. The Vic Park tunnel improvements mean traffic is moving more quickly and ramp signalling will help ensure the motorway operates efficiently and safely for all drivers”.

The on-ramp has not been opened to general traffic since May 2011 when it was re-built as part of the Victoria Park Tunnel project. It provides additional access from central Auckland to the northbound lanes of the tunnel and the Auckland Harbour Bridge on State Highway 1.

The working group’s review was conducted over three months from May.

Feedback on the most positive effects of the on-ramp’s closure included less congestion and delays on the motorway, improved traffic flows on local roads near Wellington Street, and improved safety around local schools as well as for merging traffic on the motorway.

Negative effects identified by those who made submissions included delays to travel times; driver and resident frustration, “rat-running” through local streets, more heavy vehicles using local roads and an increased risk to safety locally due to drivers running red lights, making u-turns and driving too fast.

Mr Mutton thanked local communities for their patience during the on-ramp’s closure.

“We appreciate that the closure has had an impact on a large number of Aucklanders and we want to thank them for bearing with us during the tunnel construction period and for contributing to the review.

There’s quite a lot of further information available around the background to the decision here, including traffic assessments and a summary of the community consultation. I doubt the collation of all this information has come cheap.

Inevitable questions will be asked around why the ramp wasn’t just reopened as originally planned. It seems as though NZTA panicked when there were big traffic jams after the tunnel first opened with only two lanes, or thought that they could take advantage of general annoyance at the huge traffic jams when the tunnel first opened to close a ramp that they had long wished to close. Either way I think they’ve come out of this looking a bit silly.

17 comments to Wellington Street onramp to reopen

  • I’m not sure if NZTA look quite as silly as many self appointed local experts on this issue. But anyway, the really interesting thing here is that it highlights just how fragile the CMJ is and how foolish it is to funnel everything through one central system… One Bowl of Spaghetti to rule them all……

    Without both the recent change in movement habits this century [fall in driving growth rate] and some accelerated investment in alternatives [especially the non road based rail network] this singularity is likely to come unstuck a lot sooner than it otherwise may. A lot depends on whether the huge investment in the Western Ring Route really does take much pressure off this system…..? We shall see. And AC and Len Brown may yet save NZTA’s blushes by somehow getting that investment into complementary movement systems that are so clearly missing from Auckland and that will enable this beast to keep below critical levels for much much longer……

    And I guess that depends how Aucklanders vote over the next two years as transport has become so unfortunately politicised recently in NZ. Interesting contrast with the UK where the incoming coalition government went into the election promising to continue the previous gov’s policies especially around investment in projects like Crossrail:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossrail

    We sadly seem to be taking the US model where climate change, resource security concerns, environmental issues, urban form, and equality issues are all considered to be left/right issues and require politicians to fall unthinkingly into opposing camps so we fail to get any united and rational progress.

  • As I mentioned on my Blog, this is a bad result for Motorist, further into the future opening this On-Ramp is going to slow down the Motorway System.

    I think the NZTA wants to keep it closed, as they know the long term effects of opening up this On-Ramp, however it typical Auckland Fashion the minority of motorist have formed a group, applied pressure and have forced the NZTA to backtrack on their decision.

    Although I’m sure most on this Blog is not to concerned with that :p

  • morecityplease

    Conveniently timed with school holidays??

  • Louis

    A northbound onramp at Newton road would be good to remove congestion off Ponsonby Road.

  • Ingolfson

    Loosening our belts to fight obesity again? Always a winning strategy ;-)

  • Geoff Houtman

    Yes indeedy, they have managed to look silly AND alienate a whole bunch of communities.

    Just in case you thought People Power had won for a change- they mention “capacity is expected to reduce over time” which is a polite way of saying “we’ll close it later on”.

    I can’t believe they still think Harbour traffic will increase when their own numbers show the opposite!

    PR shambles…

  • swan

    I expect they will have particularly long cycles during the evening peak here. I wonder if it will actually snafoogle the whole area as everything gets backed up as people queue for the on ramp.

  • Richard Horner

    The whole of Spaghetti junction is a shambles and there are far too many on and off ramps now aggravated by ramp signals. Motorways should have few interchanges, not one for every second street and i would suggest Wellington Street should never have been built in the first place. Before the tunnel was built the end of the Port/NW on ramp almost touched the Wellington Street one, no wonder there were hold-ups.

    A couple more should be closed leaving say three plus the SH 1 / SH 16 junction between Greenlane Road and Fanshawe Street. Some access roads would require upgrade such as Greenlane Road to cope.

    • Richard you’ve hit smack up against the schzio nature of our urban motorway system: It can’t decide whether it’s there to get little Jonny to Grammar or a semi trailer from Hamilton to Whangarei. NZTA want flow; the locals want local utility. These are in contradiction. Exacerbated by two other outcomes of the motorway mania of late last century (a disease that continues on in the heads of Steven Joyce and others currently in charge), one; the severance that motorway itself creates to local routes (for example Ponsonby to Parnell? Impossible now) and two; the failure to invest in any other means of getting about.

      Politically it is had for NZTA to admit that motorways can’t do everything, but practically they should. We could then have more effective motorways and more appropriate modes for other journeys and tasks.

  • lisa

    bring on waterview and the SH1 / SH18 interchange upgrade. Hopefully this will help pull some of the through traffic off the CMJ.

  • M Juma

    The report did say the effects of the completion of the WRR would possible mean less traffic northbound and may mean that the sustainability of this onramp may well be ensured after later 2016. Although it did forecast a deterioration of accessibility due to afternoon peak. Having said that I am not sure how anyone on this forum can justify closing the onramp for non peak hours, at say 9.00pm where there will be no congestion at all. The benefits of opening it up, in my view outweighs most negative impact, at least for non peak times.

  • 400 vehicles per hour being allowed through the ramp signals equals about 6 vehicles per minute. What will happen to these vehicles? They’ll head to Curran Street and wind up the Herne Bay residents. The worst thing about the NZTA review is that there is not really any indication within it about why they were so desperate to keep the ramp closed – the review is a real shame for the Agency, who could have looked strong, progressive and decisive by stating the real reasons to close. Instead, they’ve made a poor decision that defies all engineering and traffic planning logic. And furthers Auckland’s demand for the private vehicle.

  • Brendan

    Does anyone know if ramp signals dynamically change the amount of traffic they let through based on measurements on the flow of the motorway before and after the ramp signal?

    If they aren’t dynamic, my prediction is that traffic signals will be configured to let lots of traffic on that create large queues, then NZTA will be able to say “We told you so”.

    • SteveD

      Yes they do, and they normally only come on when there’s heavy traffic on the motorway. The green lights can come up to 10 seconds apart depending on how bad the traffic is.

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