Traffic hell on central city streets

04:57, Apr 07 2014
Moorhouse Ave traffic jam
AT A STANDSTILL: Cars backed up along Moorhouse Ave near Hagley Park.

The evening rush hour has begun with congestion bringing some central city streets to a standstill.

Traffic congestion this morning was so severe for those heading into the central city that gridlocked passengers were forced to leave buses and walk while locked-in motorists crossed pavements to escape.

Officials warn congestion could worsen over coming months with 40 separate crews currently digging up roads within the central city.

Durham St traffic jam
DURHAM ST: Traffic on many central city streets were at a standstill this morning.

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Ali Jones has posted a picture on Facebook showing traffic bumper-to-bumper on Montreal St about 4.15pm and pleading: "Could someone please remind people not to close up intersections! Streets are clogged. 10 mins per block along Montreal St".


Durham St traffic jam
DURHAM ST: Traffic on many central city streets were at a standstill this morning.

Another commuter has reported Ferry Rd "gridlocked" by 4.30pm.

This morning, commuters on Bealey Ave and Manchester St reported sitting through between three and nine changes of lights without movement. Some feared the evening rush hour could be worse.

Christchurch City Council unit manager transport and greenspace John Mackie said the council had flagged for over a year that infrastructure repairs in the city would peak in mid-2014.

He said there were currently 40 work crews within the Four Avenues.

Mackie said despite today's traffic changes being advertised last week, the first day always brought significant congestion.

He said council traffic teams had monitoring  this morning's flows and were making adjustments across the city's systems. "We expect that today will be the worst day and congestion will gradually ease as commuters get used to the road layout changes," Mackie said.

But Addington worker Allan Grant asked how commuters could "get the hang of" roadworks when there were no alternatives.

He said his 5.8k 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.

"To add insult to injury, the main route north for my home ward journey, Montreal Street is one laned yet again so having got you in the mornings, they get you in the evenings as well."

Grant added that he had to take his vehicle to work so had few alternatives. "My job is stressful enough without these traffic frustrations to deal with."


Workers in Addington fear Montreal single-laning will mean equally difficult journey home, while the closure of Humphreys Dr to eastbound traffic will make the evening commute challenging for those in eastern suburbs. Traffic will be diverted to Ferry Rd to reach the Ferrymead Bridge.

Works have begun around the Victoria St clock tower. Montreal and Salisbury streets are both reduced to one lane and Victoria St is closed at the clock tower.

From today Durham St has been reduced to a single lane around a Tuam St work site.

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

"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 wrong 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."

Ben Kepes tweeted that he used to ride his bike from Waipara. "Without a word of a lie, this am took longer by car."

Another Twitter user said she got off the bus after sitting on Durham St for half an hour.

Donna Robertson said the bus from St Albans to Durham St was "insania", and took 30 mins from Edgeware Rd to the courts.

"Half the people just got off the bus on Durham St. Me included. We give up. Don't do Durham St dear people of #chch"

One driver admitted driving across a curb to escape stationary traffic but still tookan hour to get from Hagley Park, near the Armagh St bridge to the central city, a distance he said he could have walked in 10 minutes.

Below are a selection of further comments from this morning's commuters:

- On Manchester St, just south of Bealey Ave, I counted 7 to 9 changes of lights with no movement and about 11 changes of lights in next small block.

- Every morning I despise driving from New Brighton to Addington each day for work. I think if I wasn't on medication I would have had a massive melt down by now.

- Took me 45 minutes to get from Bealey Ave-Fitzgerald Ave corner to 320 Manchester St. I waited through three lights changes to move one centimetre

- Chaos! Bealey Ave was terrible. Cars banking up at right hand turn into Manchester St. Manchester St, which usually flows really well, was stagnant. Had to cut down Salisbury onto Barbadoes, which was just as bad where the road becomes one lane with road works.

- I got stuck down Bealey Ave. All the intersections were blocked with traffic and I had to sit through about three phases of lights at each intersection before I could get across.

- I drive from Papanui, turned onto Bealey, that is where it started. Everyone trying to turn right into Durham, Manchester, Barbados blocked all traffic in the right hand lane. Any road going into the city was gridlocked.

- Barbadoes and Manchester, north to south. Shocking. Took me 25 mins to get from Bealey Ave to Gloucester St

- Manchester Street was ridiculous - it took 15 minutes to get from Bealey Ave to Gloucester St

- The Northern Motorway on ramp by Tram Rd overpass was queued right back to Old Main North Rd.

- Barbadoes St has been badly congested for the last week or two because of roadworks toward the southern end. Traffic backs up to at least Gloucester and Armagh, and further north.

- I live on Cashel St between Rolleston and Montreal. When I came out of my driveway this morning, Cashel St was completely blocked and not moving. Durham Street was down to one lane, so everything from Rolleston Ave to Durham at Lichfield St was completely blocked. Every street going south was gridlocked. What normally should have taken 5 minutes took 15. Needless to say, I should have walked.

- I usually take 10 minutes to get to work from Bealey. This morning it took 45 minutes because I couldn't turn left into Salisbury St off Victoria St.

- A simple solution would be to alter the phases of the traffic lights and use police to control traffic especially between the hours of 7.30am and 9.30am.

- For the first time in a month my trip to work only took eight minutes as it should straight up madras st from Beckenham. Over the last month is has taken up to 58 minutes due roadworks on Madras and Manchester streets.

The Press