The heavy traffic across Auckland's roading network - particularly for those heading north - is beginning to ease as motorists appear to have paid attention to advice to start their commutes ahead of the peak traffic.
NZTA is now advising motorists heading north to use either routes over the Auckland Harbour Bridge as traffic on State Highway 1 via the bridge remains moderate and SH16 heading north via the Western Ring Route is also less congested than earlier.
The trip from Auckland to Silverdale via SH16 is currently 37 minutes compared to 28 minutes on State Highway 1 over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
However traffic on SH16 to the North Shore was heavy from just after 3pm and resulted in NZTA going against earlier advice to motorists to avoid the bridge.
After the Western Ring Route started clogging up it instead redirected traffic back to SH1.
SH1 between Newton and Northcote heading north was heavy, along with SH16 from Western Springs to Te Atatu heading west.
The traffic was the slowest on those state highways and surrounding roads in Newton, Grafton, Auckland CBD and Westhaven and was building since 3pm.
Traffic was also crawling from Northcote towards the bridge heading south and between Greenlane and Otahuhu on the Southern Motorway.
North of Auckland appeared to be the worst affected with the journey from Auckland City to Wellsford via SH16 taking 1 hour and 54 minutes earlier this afternoon compared to the usual 1 hour and 12 minutes.
It could indicate more commuters are following NZTA's advice to avoid the harbour bridge as the same trip on SH1 via the bridge was 1 hour and 11 minutes compared to the usual 56 minutes.
Meanwhile police have cleared a crash between two vehicles which is blocking the right southbound lane of SH1 after the Princes St off-ramp.
Motorists having to sit through long and slow commutes through Auckland will be hoping work on temporarily repairing Auckland Harbour Bridge, which starts at 9pm, goes off without a hitch.
The repairs are expected to take two nights allowing two of the four closed lanes on the centre span to be reopened to motorists by the end of the week.
This will be a welcome relief for frustrated Aucklanders whose vehicles have been reduced to a crawl during peak times and beyond and who, according to data collected by the AA, had to fight through even more traffic today than yesterday.
Half of the bridge's eight lanes have been closed since two trucks were blown over in freak incidents of Friday afternoon, damaging the centre strut.
AA motoring affairs senior adviser Sarah Geard said there was no easy answers for commuters this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
"The best thing you can do is to try and travel outside the busiest period. That means heading out early – like, before 3pm – or else sitting tight at work until 6.30pm or so."
For those who couldn't work from home, they could consider switching to public transport or would need to leave before 6am, especially on the Northern Motorway or after 10am to avoid the worst of the delays.
It also paid to check traffic information such as NZTA's website or AA Roadwatch to help you plan your journey and know what to expect before heading off.
"We should see congestion ease slightly when a couple of extra lanes open on the Harbour Bridge later in the week, but until then it's all bad news, unfortunately."
Traffic congestion was even worse than yesterday and the NZTA saying that people should plan more time for their journeys perhaps backfired, with data showing the traffic was worse this morning, particularly on the Northern Motorway, where the trip into the city centre from Albany peaked at around 80 minutes at 6.30am.
In comparison, that trip at the same time last Tuesday was about 15 minutes, suggesting motorists are leaving earlier in an attempt to beat the traffic.
AA data showed many motorists opted to avoid the harbour bridge yesterday afternoon and instead took the Northwestern Motorway for the trip home, which saw travel times from the CBD to Westgate peaking at 35 minutes - double last week's time.
"All of this suggests motorists are adjusting their trips to try and minimise their travel times, but by and large, they'll be really feeling the pinch," Geard said.
Yesterday's move to close the Curran St off ramp so that there could be a priority bus lane came with issues as some motorists reported sitting in a queue for more than an hour before being redirected.
Traffic was snaked around Ponsonby streets including Shelly Beach Rd, Jervois Rd, College Hill and Beaumont St as motorists learnt about the new changes.
Along with the temporary fix to replace half of the damaged strut on the bridge, NZTA is also continuing to work on the permanent solution that would enable all four lanes to re-open but is warning it is likely to be weeks again.
The southbound clip-on lanes will be closed overnight tonight from 9pm to 5am. The closure includes southbound lanes between Esmonde Rd off-ramp and the Hobson St on-ramp including the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Esmonde Rd southbound on-ramp and the Onewa Rd southbound on-ramp.
A detour will be in place via the Western Ring Route (SH20/SH16/SH18) while the southbound lanes are closed.
The southbound clip-on lanes may be closed again on Wednesday night if the repair cannot be completed in one night.
"This is a complex undertaking and has never been done before, so the bridge team must do extensive testing on the bridge before opening it up to live traffic. This includes mathematical peer review by independent experts which we are doing in parallel to the construction of the temporary piece," Waka Kotahi general manager transport services Brett Gliddon said.
"Once the temporary fix is in place there will be real-life testing with heavy vehicles to ensure it performs to the design specifications and requirements. Only then will a final decision be made about whether the temporary fix is suitable to allow the reopening of additional lanes."
Gliddon warned yesterday that motorists should expect a disruption in their travel patterns for several weeks until the permanent fix was in place and advised motorists to either stay home or travel outside peak times where possible until the temporary solution is completed.
However North Shore business leaders are calling for a timeline for the permanent fix because the limited access between Auckland city and the North Shore is impacting businesses.
Business North Harbour general manager Kevin O'Leary said a permanent fix sooner than later was essential.
"North Shore businesses and commuters need to be able plan with certainty and confidence without ongoing disruption.
"We also want to know what safeguards will be put in place to minimise the chances of a repeat incident, or at the very least be assured that next time would see less commuter impact and a much quicker permanent fix."
Bus commuters wanting to head north or south over the bridge from 9pm tonight won't be able to and are instead being directed to catch the Birkenhead ferry. They will then be met by a bus and transferred to Akoranga Station where they can catch their normal service.
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