Right on queue we get a full page spread from the Herald about traffic queues.
Wet weather, a serious crash and the post-Christmas rush combined to bring bumper-to-bumper congestion on long sections of highways and travel misery to holidaymakers.
Police described some traffic as a “rolling carpark” and urged calm as queues of up to 20km yesterday greeted motorists escaping Auckland, in the holiday hot-spot of the Coromandel Peninsula and north of Wellington.
Highways north and south of Auckland were crowded as thousands left the city for their New Year holiday.
Auckland Arts Festival Trust chairwoman Victoria Carter was among those caught driving north. A frequent user of the road, she said she had never known the queue to Warkworth to be as long.
“We got to the (Johnstones Hill) tunnel at 11am and there was a queue coming out of the tunnel as we arrived at it and we were hoping it was not the queue for Warkworth … and it was.
“We crawled to Warkworth at an average speed of 15-20km/h … It looks like the congestion stemmed from the traffic lights in Warkworth.”
Transport Agency spokesman Anthony Frith said a 20km northbound queue formed on State Highway 1 to Warkworth from 10am.
Last month, the Government approved a fast-track consent process for a $760 million extension of the Northern Motorway to Warkworth.
The Transport Agency has not set a start date for the 18.5km four-lane extension from the Johnstones Hill tunnels, but construction is expected to start between 2015 and 2019 and end between 2020 and 2025.
The traffic lights at at Warkworth are definitely a problem need to be addressed but that doesn’t mean it needs a full offline motorway to do it. The most prudent thing to do would be to build the bypass part of the project first by way of a small section of road from the existing SH1 to the P2W route as shown below. An additional small section of road to link where the bypass joins back to SH1 across to Matakana Rd would eliminate almost all through traffic out of Warkworth.
After those two pieces of work have been completed, we could then see just what impact they would have on traffic patterns and congestion and allow us to see if a full motorway connection between Puhoi and Warkworth is really needed. If that motorway still stacks up (which I doubt it would) then very little has been lost as only the blue section in the map above (about 1.3km) would have been surplus to requirements. However depending on how it was designed, that blue link could eventually be used as a link to another interchange which would mean the project would actually be of some benefit to locals as what is currently proposed would actually be longer for locals to use than the existing road.
I’m almost certain the only reason this isn’t being pursued is that those in support of the project know it would kill what little justification there is for the rest of the project.
BTW – to someone who has a physical copy of the paper, what’s that rubbish in the top right corner with flying cars. If there were about to come on stream then wouldn’t that kill the need for many of the upgrades even more?