Waterview critic: project offers brief congestion respite at best
A much vaunted motorway tunnel project will give drivers a brief respite - at best - from growing congestion, a critic says.
Transport Blog contributor Matt Lowrie said the 'induced demand' traffic phenomenon would see motorway congestion return to normal levels within months following the completion of the $2.4 billion Waterview Connection project.
Led by the New Zealand Transport Agency, the work, which will link the northwestern motorway to Manukau, is aimed at making Auckland motorways more efficient.
NZTA highway manager Brett Gliddon said: "The Western Ring Route will support movements around the city and Auckland's growth and help provide a better balance of traffic flows across Auckland's state highway and local road network.
"Completing this key missing link will add capacity and transfer traffic from the local network to the state highway network.
"It is not a means of removing congestion altogether, especially in peak periods, which is no different to other major cities across the world," Gliddon said.
Lowrie said motorists may at first notice a "little bit of time savings" but roads will "pretty quickly jam up as it is now".
Each year, more than 40,000 motor vehicles join the more than 1 million vehicles already on Auckland roads.
Making Auckland motorways easier to drive on means more people will drive on them, he said.
"Over time it's going to have impacts on journey times to town."
"Even with some of the [motorway] works coming to completion we're still seeing congestion, what we'll see is a lot of people from south west Auckland, particularly Dominion Rd and Sandringham going to think it's great to jump in the car and drive through the tunnels.
"They're all going to join the northwestern motorway that already crawls and that's going to cause all sorts of issues," Lowrie said.
Figures obtained from the NZTA show on balance motorway journey times have increased significantly since 2012.
In 2016, home bound SH1 commuters travelling from Hobson St to Te Irirangi Dr now face a more than 24 minute journey compared to a more than 17 minute trip in 2012 - a 33 per cent increase.
For the same time period, those travelling Te Iririrangi Dr to Nelson St face a more than 31 minute trip compared to a more than 23 minute journey in 2012 - a 21 per cent increase.
The home bound Nelson St to Te Iririrangi Dr has suffered the worst median travel time increase hitting 38 per cent in 2016.
An NZTA spokeswoman said many decreased median travel times where due to NZTA perfoming current improvement works on Auckland motorway routes and travel times would reduce once improvements where complete.
"The motorway improvements include some of the biggest pinch points on the network including the Southern Corridor Improvements on SH1, State Highway 20A to the airport, and significant additional lane capacity on the North Western Motorway as part of the Western Ring Route," Gliddon said.