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Ask Phoebe: Roadworks signs to go but lower speed limit will remain

By Phoebe Falconer

The agency says it is a safer option to have a uniform speed limit for the high volume of vehicles.

The NZ Transport Agency says the 'work zone ahead' and temporary speed limit signs will be removed in the next few weeks. Photo / Getty Images
The NZ Transport Agency says the 'work zone ahead' and temporary speed limit signs will be removed in the next few weeks. Photo / Getty Images

Q. The new southbound lanes on the Newmarket viaduct were completed ages ago and the northbound lanes likewise. The whole structure is now fully operational, yet those annoying "work zone ahead" and "80 temporary" signs are still in place. Motorists are now clearly ignoring the speed restriction, which is totally understandable. Surely removing the signs is long overdue.
Keith Hamilton, Milford.

The NZ Transport Agency says the "work zone ahead" and temporary speed limit signs will be removed in the next few weeks when the last of the work on the new viaduct and necessary legal work is completed. However, there will be no return to the 100km/h limit that existed before the old viaduct was replaced. The agency says the 80km/h limit that already applies to traffic driving through the Central Motorway Junction (Spaghetti Junction) will be extended to include the new viaduct. The viaduct marks the southern gateway to the CMJ - the busiest section of motorway in New Zealand - and the agency says it is a safer option to have a uniform speed limit for the high volume of vehicles using this part of the motorway.

Q. My husband and I (both retired) live on a hill near the Owairaka end of the Southwestern Motorway project. Since dry weather started in January and we opened our windows to cool down, dust and grit have been coating everything. Recent rain has dappled the dust on the outside of our windows rather than washing it away. The problem may escalate because we have been informed there will be additional rock blasting for a wetland area.

When would it be wise to pay for help to have the house cleaned because the dust and grit period is over? Will you please find out when there will be an end to this depressing problem?
Sue Tenterden, Owairaka.

Not just yet, I'm afraid.

The Waterview Connection has to meet tough environmental conditions and the NZ Transport Agency says the project makes a big effort to mitigate effects like dust, noise and vibration on neighbouring communities. This includes continuous monitoring and regular reporting of its results to Auckland Council. Despite the very dry summer, the project has kept dust levels within permissible levels. Water trucks have worked almost continuously to dampen down dust. That said, there is no denying that any dust can be an annoyance.

As the project prepares for the start of tunnelling in late October, the agency says roads will be completed and paved within the construction site. This will significantly reduce dust if dry conditions are encountered again and it will also give heavy construction traffic a direct route to SH20 from the site.

Controlled blasting has been used to break up hard rock, in order to reduce the noise and disruption to residents from continuous rock breaking by machines.

The rock, which is from an ancient lava flow, has now been removed. However the project is looking at the suitability of blasting to create a wetlands area on Alan Wood Reserve. This will include small test blasts to determine whether the area is too shallow to blast, too close to residents, or if there is enough basalt rock to warrant blasting rather than rock breaking.

Again, the aim is to reduce the noise and disruption for residents.

People can contact the project at 0508 TUNNEL (88 66 35).

- NZ Herald

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