The third lane in Auckland's 450m Victoria Park Tunnel will open on Monday March 26. Two lanes have been open since November and initially huge bottlenecks were created heading north, causing complaints from motorists that the tunnel was worsening the traffic situation instead of improving it.
But Auckland Transport says three lanes will definitely make the journey quicker.
On the same day, the moveable barrier on the Auckland Harbour Bridge will start its extended run to the Fanshawe Street intersection - providing an additional fifth lane through St Marys Bay for northbound traffic during the afternoon peak.
'We will be unlocking the full potential of the Victoria Park Tunnel project," says the NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker. "When we have the third tunnel lane open and the extra lane through St Marys Bay, journeys from Greenlane to the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be quicker and easier."
"In January we delivered big improvements for drivers going south by reconfiguring the Vic Park flyover for four southbound lanes. It's estimated that drivers are saving six to eight minutes on trips south of Fanshawe Street.
"Now it is the turn of those driving north to benefit from the increased motorway capacity built as part of the Victoria Park Tunnel project."
Mr Parker says people will need to drive with care until they get used to the new northbound driving conditions.
The moveable barrier machine will ends its afternoon run to Fanshawe Street at about 3.30pm, and a gate will provide drivers from both Fanshawe and Beaumont Streets with access to the peak lane. The peak lane will close at 7pm each evening when the barrier machine begins its return trip to close the fifth lane on the bridge.
The opening of the northbound motorway improvements means that, for the first time, the number of peak-time traffic lanes through St Marys Bay will match the five lanes open on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Wellington Street on ramp will not reopen when the third lane in the tunnel opens and a joint decision between Auckland Transport and NZTA will be made on its future later in the year.
Mr Parker says more improvements will be made in the Grafton Gully area in time, creating a preferred exit for those who work east of Queen Street.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project is deemed to be one of the "seven roads of national significance".
(Click here for the video animation showing how the Fanshawe Street on ramp will work.)
Send us your feedback when it opens? Does it make your journey quicker? firstname.lastname@example.org