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On-ramp back online but residents still doubtful

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 08:00 15/08/2012

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The champagne is on hold for inner city residents who have lobbied for the Wellington St motorway on-ramp to be reopened.

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport have announced the onramp will reopen in about six weeks after final work is done to make sure it is safe. This includes installing ramp signals.

The Herne Bay Residents Association has been instrumental in advocating for the reopening but members say that while they are pleased with the decision, they still have reservations.

The on-ramp has been closed since May last year when it was rebuilt as part of the Victoria Park Tunnel project.

Inner city residents were told the closure was temporary and began lobbying NZTA and Auckland Transport when it looked as though it could be permanent.

Association president Carlie Eve says traffic in suburban Herne Bay streets has increased dramatically since the closure as the 7000 cars that used it daily try to find other ways to access the motorway.

The decision to reopen comes after an assessment that says the on-ramp can take traffic without affecting the motorways in central Auckland, except for the afternoon peak when access will be controlled. Its performance will be monitored.

"We remain to be convinced that the proposed solution will work," Ms Eve says. "It's hard to see how constrained, or what we would see as limited access, at afternoon peak traffic will reduce congestion in our local streets or alleviate the frustration of North Shore motorists - it's the afternoon peak that's the problem.

"It was also concerning to see that the report highlighted that the Victoria Park tunnel, so soon after completion, is already nearing capacity when traffic is at its peak.

"We would not want to see the decision to open the Wellington St on-ramp reversed in the future if traffic flows and volumes through the tunnel become a concern without other options also being considered.”

NZTA's acting state highways manager for Auckland and Northland Steve Mutton is thanking local communities for their patience during the closure.

"We appreciate that it 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," he says.

Mr Mutton says the plans will be discussed with residents over the coming weeks.

More than 700 submissions were made to NZTA and Auckland Transport about the on-ramp, and 72 per cent wanted it reopened.

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