Congestion expected to ease

Last updated 05:00 09/04/2014
Moorhouse Ave overbridge traffic jamf
Kirk Hargreaves

LONG QUEUES: Traffic on the Moorhouse Ave overbridge on Tuesday morning.

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Traffic congestion around central Christchurch is expected to reduce today with travel times halved at trouble spots. 

The city was brought to a standstill on Monday after there was a big boost in earthquake repairs in the central city. 

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) changed its work programme with lanes closing in Montreal and Durham St.

Forty-five crews are working in the city for the next few months.

The work was scheduled and advertised but still the city was stuck in gridlock with people reporting an hour to drive along Montreal St.

Data received by Transport Impact Management (TIM), the team tasked with co-ordinating roadworks around the city, indicated travels times are reducing each day.

But after two days of bumper-to-bumper traffic, commuters are short of tolerance.

At last night's peak-hour traffic, frustrated motorists could be seen expressing their anger with gestures and the use of car horns.

TIM said this week's problems were the third time such gridlock had happened in the earthquake-battered city.

Traffic behaviour was following the same pattern with ''calamity'' on the first day and gradual improvement each day afterward.

Christchurch Transport Operations Centre recorded buses down Durham St taking an hour on Monday but this was halved by yesterday morning.

Peak time yesterday morning also shifted to between 8am and 9am instead of 7am and 9.30am on Monday.

The centre reported that Kilmore St and Salisbury St, which were ''backed up for miles'', were free-flowing again yesterday. 

Christchurch City Council transport and greenspace manager John Mackie said travel times would continue to reduce.

''The pattern when new roadwork sites open is for the first three days to be the worse, with drivers working out alternative routes by days two and three.''

The impact of repair work would decrease throughout May and June.

TIM said service levels were pushed right to the brink of what the city could tolerate on Monday.

It was the worst the city would have to endure this year.

Traffic should flow better to seaside suburbs after the reopening of Humphreys Drive in Woolston.

Traffic was backed up to Woolston and either side of Dyers Rd on Monday with only one entrance towards Sumner, Moncks Bay, Redcliffs and Mt Pleasant.

Scirt is rethinking how it will do the repairs to the road, including looking at options such as  tidal flows where peak-hour traffic is allowed down one lane.

TIM has representatives from Environment Canterbury, the transport centre,  Scirt, council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, and makes decisions on which roadworks will be allowed to be done in the city.

It must balance the needs of the rebuild with traffic flows and also take into account bus routes, demolition of buildings, fences or artworks obstructing the road, to come up with a plan.

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- The Press


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