Change is coming to a highway near you. It won't signal the end of traffic jams but new electronic motorway road signs could help Auckland motorists avoid the dreaded time-suckers, better alert drivers to roadworks and, at the very least, help everyone find their way on the motorways that noodle their way across Auckland.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has begun rolling out the next generation of electronic motorway road signs over the City of Sails' highway network.

Six full-colour, high-pixel signs have been installed on the Northern, Southern, Northwestern and Southwestern motorways, and on State Highway 16. Seven more are planned. Other centres will also get the signs in the future, although a timeline is not yet known.

The $80,000 signs are funded from the agency's renewal budget. Testing is under way, and they are expected to be operating by the middle of the year.


The agency's Auckland highway manager, Brett Gliddon, said the signs allowed more detailed information on highway conditions and travel information.

"The improved resolution means we will be able to use lower-case lettering, which allows us to get more text and information on to the signs. They also support detailed graphics, so things like lane changes and layout configurations can be explained more clearly."

Signs on the northbound approach to the Harbour Bridge are already using the better pixel resolution to show smoother and clearer fonts, Gliddon said.

The technology also allowed for a wider variety of colours, rather than being restricted to amber and red. Research showed colours and graphics were highly effective at attracting attention, he said. White font was already used on a SH1 sign at Newmarket and had received positive feedback.

The new messaging signs would also be used to support long-term road works and, usefully for the driver of the truck whose digger hit an overbridge and caused widespread road chaos last week, they could also notify drivers if they are over-height.