Mt Albert streets are ‘quieter than ever’, locals say
The previously congested Auckland suburb of Mt Albert has become a ghost town since the Waterview tunnel opened.
After five years of construction and delays, Auckland’s $1.4 billion tunnel officially opened to traffic on Sunday.
NZTA highways manager Brett Gliddon said in June that the tunnel would benefit the local communities of Mt Albert, Mt Roskill and Mt Eden by reducing traffic on local roads. And Mt Albert’s Shalini Prasad said it had done just that.
‘‘It’s amazing. Usually Richardson Rd is backed up all the way from the university (Unitec) to the traffic lights at Maioro street in the mornings, now it is completely empty,’’ she said.
From 8am to 9.30am, Prasad said the 2 kilometre stretch of Richardson Rd between Carrington Rd and Maioro St was usually ‘‘bumper-to-bumper’’ traffic. Prior to the tunnel opening, Auckland Transport said the weekday average number of cars travelling down Carrington Rd was about 25,000.
Prasad runs the Harlston Superette on Richardson Rd and said the lack of morning traffic was had been great for business as well.
‘‘Now that people aren’t sitting in queues all morning, they actually have time to stop and come into the dairy so it has been great for us.’’
Ali Ashman lives on Richardson Rd and said she had never seen Mt Albert this quiet.
‘‘Before the tunnel opened, it could sometimes take five minutes just to turn left out of my driveway, and turning right was almost impossible at rush hour in the mornings. This is definitely the quietest we’ve ever seen it,’’ Ashman said.
Local schools are also seeing the benefits of less congested roads. Gladstone Primary School principal Dave Shadbolt said the opening had been positive for the school, especially staff.
‘‘The traffic on Carrington Rd has gone from nose to tail in the morning to literally three or four cars at the lights up from the school. Everyone in Mt Albert is talking about the time they are saving,’’ Shadbolt said.
However, Shadbolt said the real test would be how traffic copes when university semester two resumes on July 24.
‘‘Before the tunnel opened, it could sometimes take five minutes just to turn left out of my driveway’’
Shalini Prasad says business has improved since the Waterview tunnel opened.