Christchurch traffic jam today, jam tomorrow

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR AND SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 08/04/2014
chch traffic
Dean Kozanic/Fairfax NZ
ANOTHER JAM: Traffic crawling through Montreal St during Monday's 5pm rush hour.

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Traffic authorities are urging Christchurch motorists to find new routes for their trips to work or school as gridlock strikes central city streets.

Peak-hour traffic was at a standstill on key city roads yesterday after several major routes were closed or reduced to one lane for earthquake repair work.Many frustrated bus passengers yesterday abandoned their trips and walked instead. 

The Christchurch City Council said it had advertised the road works and warned people to avoid problem areas, including Durham and Montreal Sts through the central city.  

Motorists yesterday reported gridlock around the four avenues, with major holdups also at Humphreys Dr, Woolston.  

St Albans resident Shar Davis said her 15-minute commute to her workplace on Moorhouse Ave took her 85 minutes yesterday morning.

''I could've walked to work faster,'' she said.

Shayla Vanstone  got on a bus at Northlands Mall at 7.35am, earlier than normal to ensure she was on time for an exam at CPIT at 9am.  

''Once we hit Durham St Nth we were at a standstill. As we crawled closer to the bus exchange, I decided I'd have to get off and run because I was going to be late for my exam. It was now about 9.10am and I'd been on the bus since 7.35am.''

The trip normally took 30 minutes.  

She said she did not know anything about the planned roadworks.

''Trying to get around Christchurch at the moment is ridiculous and I'm now going to spend the night trying to come up with another way in.''

Last night on Montreal St, The Press saw frustrated motorists looking out of their car sun roofs to see how long the traffic queue was - it took at least 35 minutes to get from the start of Montreal St to Victoria St ending at Bealey Ave.

Council transport and greenspace manager John Mackie said each time a slew of new road works started in the city, people took time to adapt.

Montreal Street is also down to one lane at the Salisbury/Victoria Street intersection and this is causing major delays for commuters driving north.

''Currently there are 40 work crews within the four avenues. We are trying to get the underground pipe and road repairs done in the city as quickly as possible to make way for the rest of the rebuild,'' Mackie said.

''We are hoping to have Park Terrace back to two lanes by the end of the month and that will take some of the pressure off.''

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Traffic congestion is set to worsen in coming months with 40 separate crews currently digging up roads within the central city.

Yesterday traffic restrictions around the city ramped up, with several key routes closed off or reduced to one lane. 

Commuters on Bealey Ave and Manchester St reported sitting through between three and nine changes of lights without movement. 

Mackie said  the council had flagged for over a year that infrastructure repairs in the city would peak in mid-2014.

The changes introduced yesterday were advertised last week.

He said council traffic teams had monitored yesterday's flows and would make adjustments across the city's systems.  

Yesterday was expected to be the worst day, and congestion could ''gradually ease as commuters get used to the road layout changes''.

Addington worker Allan Grant questioned how commuters could ''get the hang of'' roadworks when there were no alternatives.

He said his 5.8- kilometre trip from his home in Edgeware Rd should take about 10 minutes.

''But with the latest crop of roadworks, single laning yet another section of Barbadoes, it is taking me anywhere between 30 and 40 extremely frustrating minutes to get to work.'' 

A Scirt spokeswoman said delays on Durham St by the former central police station were likely to persist for the next two months.

She encouraged people to think of other ways to get into the CBD.

''People might like to think about parking their cars outside the CBD and walking across Hagley Park or into the centre,'' she said.

Councillor Ali Jones took to Twitter to express her frustration at the gridlocked traffic.

''I saw driving that scared the bejeebers out of me,'' Jones said, including one woman who over-took on the incorrect side of the road.

Though it was taking some people at least twice as long to get to work, Jones said there was also the ''other stuff'' heavy traffic did to people.

''It's the stress and what it does to people and their decision-making.'' 

Christchurch Transport Operations Centre manager Ryan Cooney said congestion on Montreal St was expected to get better throughout the week as people chose different routes and retimed their journeys.

''The acute situation from this morning will be reduced. However, we fully acknowledge if this does not happen we will need to consider other options,'' Cooney said. 

The Humphreys Dr one-lane closure was more of an issue - it leaves only one entrance into the seaside suburbs using Ferry Rd.

''In the CBD people can change their routes and times but we understand that changing the route is not an option for that particular site.

''We will keep a very close eye on that site,'' he said.

 

Visit: http://www.transportforchristchurch.govt.nz/ and www.strongerchristchurch.govt.nz for more information.

- The Press

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