(Media release from NZ Transport Agency / Waka Kotahi)

There has been a reduction in congestion and improved journeys across the wider Wellington transport network after the first full day of operation for Transmission Gully, Te Ara Nui o Te Rangihaeata.

“We are very pleased with how the network has been flowing,” says Waka Kotahi Regional Manager Maintenance and Operations, Mark Owen.

“We’re getting great feedback about the positive difference that the new route is making across the entire network, and especially for coastal communities along SH59. With the bulk of journeys being made on SH1, we expect to see ongoing improvements to safety, access and journeys for those communities.

“It will take time for patterns to settle, and we did see a slight increase in the overall number of vehicles on the state highway network yesterday. People should be aware that the roads are likely to be very busy over the weekend, as many people will take the opportunity to drive on the new road. But initial signs of how the network is working, and the wider benefits that Transmission Gully is bringing to the region, are extremely positive,” says Mr Owen.

In the morning peak of March 31, between 7am and 9am, the number of vehicles using SH1 north of Transmission Gully increased by approximately 25%, compared to the same period last week.

Approximately 85% of all southbound morning journeys (7am-9am) were made on SH1, while the remaining 15% continued to use the coastal route on SH59. The majority (80%) of heavy vehicles chose to use Transmission Gully, rather than SH59.

Traffic volumes on SH58, between Pāuatahanui and SH2, were slightly busier than usual but there was no queuing or congestion. There was some congestion in both northbound and southbound directions within Wellington City, as there would be on an average week-day morning.

Waka Kotahi is also working closely with local council partners, who have reported no issues with congestion or queuing on local roads.

Councils have reported lighter patronage for Waikanae train services, but more people chose the Porirua/Plimmerton services, and there are anecdotal reports of people driving to Porirua Park and Ride via Transmission Gully to catch a train south. There was negligible difference reported on the Hutt Valley line.

Waka Kotahi has observed some issues at Linden in both northbound and southbound directions, with drivers seen cutting across three lanes of traffic after the merge between SH1 and SH59, and making last-second changes to get onto State Highway 1 instead of carrying on SH59 at Linden.

“We remind people to merge and change lanes safely, and to take time to become familiar with the network,” says Mr Owen.

“We would especially like to encourage people driving in the left lane coming from SH1 Transmission Gully to wait until they’re near the end of the lane before merging. This gives everyone more time to notice other vehicles and prepare for a safe and efficient merge.”

The merge at Linden is a new layout that may not be familiar to Wellington commuters, where four lanes merge into three lanes, and then again into two lanes a few hundred metres later. Merging well helps avoid any possible safety or congestion issues.

“It will take time for people to get used to the changes. So, before starting your journey, it’d be worth paying careful attention to correct lane placement when you are on the road. Please, be patient, be courteous, and be safe.”