Roadworks on a busy arterial road in Whangārei have caused congestion and frustration for motorists and prompted an apology from authorities.

Whangārei District Council has apologised and admitted it "dropped the ball" when it came to telling the public about roadworks on Riverside Drive.

It said the mistake was due to "human error".

In a post on its Facebook page, the council said it was sorry and "will do better next time".

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Once finished the roadworks will allow traffic heading into Whangārei from Mackesy and Awarua River Rds to merge seamlessly with Riverside Drive traffic.

However, building the new merging lanes and re-sealing the stretch of road from the bottom of Onerahi Hill to Riverside Park has become a source of congestion and frustration for motorists.

Onerahi resident Nina, who did not want her last name used, said her usual trip from her home to work in Maunu had almost doubled in time.

She starts at 9am and said she expects to be stuck in some school traffic, but instead of her usual 25 minute trip, it has taken 45 minutes.

"I've been leaving, at the latest, at ten past eight to get to work for nine."

Another woman said she works for Ritchies and transports students from Onerahi to Tikipunga High School and then does pick ups back to Onerahi Primary.

She said she was delayed 20 minutes on Tuesday and so the children were late for school. She started her run 15 minutes earlier yesterday and it "worked out fine".

Council roading engineer Greg Monteith said the works will also provide a much better road surface that should last until the council four-lanes the road in 2026.

Motorists have been left frustrated after the roadworks on Riverside Drive caused congestion. Photo / John Stone
Motorists have been left frustrated after the roadworks on Riverside Drive caused congestion. Photo / John Stone

He said people have asked why the council doesn't do the four laning now and change the roundabout at the same time.

"Doing major projects in stages enables us to complete numerous projects across the district every year, rather than focussing on one area and neglecting others."

He said it means the council can adapt the roading system as growth occurs and plan ahead, and avoid having to undo recently completed work.

Monteith said doing the work at night would not have made any difference to the congestion on the road in the past couple of weeks.

The speed limit past Kissing Point was reduced to 50km/h day and night while work has taken place beside the road.

"It is the reduced road speed, rather than the work on the roadside, that has caused the significant delays for drivers. The road hasn't been any narrower, and two lanes have been operating, it's just that the speed has been reduced."

"Also, at this time of year the ground temperature is too low overnight for a good sealing result."

Next week, the first week of the school holidays, the road is being resealed between 9am-3pm, but not at peak hours.

Sections of the road will be down to a single lane under stop/go control with a 30km/h limit.

To minimise hold ups, the resealing will be split into three sections to shorten the areas where stop/go control is in place, and reduce the distance drivers need to travel at slow speed.

The rest of the time two way traffic flow will resume, but at 30km/h.

"Our aim is for the road to be fully swept and line markings to go in by the end of April 21 and for normal speeds to resume."

Dave Culham Drive will be closed between 9am-3pm on April 17 while a section of Riverside Drive from the roundabout towards Onerahi, is sealed.

One lane at a time on Riverside Drive will be closed and there will be stop/go in place.

Signal phasing on Dent St will be altered to accommodate changes the closure of Dave Culham Drive generates within city traffic flows.