By WARREN GAMBLE
Road planners can do nothing about one of the hazards on the Northwestern Motorway - the sun's orbit is a little out of their area.
Sunstrike is a factor slowing the daily run from points west to and from the city, but mainly it comes down to the basic problem with Auckland's other main arteries - too many vehicles.
Serena Balston, a 33-year-old librarian, has lived out west for more than 25 years. She said traffic jams had not noticeably worsened in recent times, perhaps because of the motorway widening and the Patiki Rd off-ramp.
Still, her 20km journey to work in the city with her husband can take more than an hour even though they leave shortly after 7 am to avoid the main peak.
A good chunk of that, more than 20 minutes on some days, can be spent in the queue to get on the motorway at the Te Atatu on-ramp.
The Lincoln Rd on-ramp is closer to her Swanson home, but Serena Balston said they had abandoned that route when it became a regular 20-minute-plus wait.
That happened after an extra set of traffic lights was installed several years ago to control access to the on-ramp.
Instead, the Balstons head to Te Atatu. The on-ramp there often represents the tail of the queue, although she said it was rare to come to a complete stop on the Northwestern Motorway, unlike the Northern and Southern routes.
The busy Waterview intersection was another bottleneck, as was the area where the motorway split into lanes for the Nelson St and Southern Motorway connections. Heavy traffic on the Southern often caused a backlog on the Northwestern.
Serena Balston said Tuesday was often the worst morning for commuters, although the reason was unclear. One theory was that more tertiary students were taking classes that day.
When travelling home at the peak hour just after 5 pm, she and her husband avoided the Hobson St snarl-up by getting on to the motorway at Grafton. Consistently heavy traffic meant the return journey took about the same as their pre-peak morning run.
Serena Balston said she often took a 4.30 pm bus home which provided a largely hassle-free 40-minute journey.
The morning peak-hour buses could use a bus lane for a small part of the journey but then had to merge with the traffic - a situation which could be improved, she said.
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By WARREN GAMBLE