No quick fix for traf­fic con­ges­tion


Re­lief may be a long time com­ing for mo­torists who say the new $630 mil­lion Kapiti ex­press­way has ac­tu­ally made their com­mute into Welling­ton worse

The New Zealand Trans­port Agency says it is con­sid­er­ing length­en­ing the merge area on State High­way 1 at Mack­ays Cross­ing, where the new four-lane ex­press­way con­nects to the old two-lane high­way, to ease the bot­tle­neck there.

But there may be lit­tle that can be done to solve the prob­lem un­til the Trans­mis­sion Gully mo­tor­way, un­der con­struc­tion north of Welling­ton, is con­nected up to the Kapiti ex­press­way in 2020.

Some Welling­ton com­muters vented their frus­tra­tion this week, say­ing the new ex­press­way has ac­tu­ally dou­bled the amount of time it takes them to drive into Welling­ton dur­ing the morn­ing rush.

One com­muter said her 45 to 55 minute morn­ing com­mute into Welling­ton’s CBD had in­creased to be­tween 80 and 95 min­utes since the ex­press­way opened in Fe­bru­ary.

The is­sue was more traf­fic now con­verg­ing on McKays Cross­ing all at once, and much ear­lier in the morn­ing, be­cause mo­torists aren’t be­ing held up by things like traf­fic lights along the Kapiti Coast any­more.

Some com­muters say this has caused a ‘‘knock on ef­fect’’, with bot­tle­necks also oc­cur­ring at other points along SH1.

The trans­port agency con- firmed on Thurs­day it was look­ing at ways to re­duce con­ges­tion, but re­spon­si­bil­ity es­sen­tially lay with those be­hind the wheel.

Neil Walker, the agency’s Welling­ton high­ways man­ager, said one op­tion was to ex­tend the merge lane at the new choke­point, which should en­cour­age peo­ple to merge at the right time.

‘‘In­creas­ing the length of the solid white line has worked well at the merge of state high­ways 1 and 2 at the bot­tom of Ngau­ranga Gorge, and en­cour­ages mo­torists to travel to the end of lanes be­fore merg­ing.’’

Re­spon­si­bil­ity was on driv­ers to use com­mon­sense at merge points by min­imis­ing lane changes, driv­ing to the speed limit and not brak­ing sud­denly, he said.

‘‘Large vol­umes of ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing a sec­tion of the mo­tor­way can make other mo­torists brake or change lanes sud­denly, cre­at­ing a rip­ple ef­fect that slows down those fol­low­ing be­hind.’’

Dis­cus­sion about the new choke­point was rife on a Kapiti Coast Face­book page this week.

The new traf­fic bot­tle­neck was la­belled a ‘‘night­mare’’ by one com­muter.

There may be lit­tle NZTA can do in the short-term to al­le­vi­ate the new rush-hour traf­fic bot­tle­neck on SH1 at Mack­ays Cross­ing.

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