Central Auckland's motorway entry point from Wellington St is to be reopened after pressure on the Transport Agency from hundreds of residents upset about extra congestion in local roads.
The agency said last night it would open the traffic on-ramp - which it upgraded as part of the southern approach to the $391 million Victoria Park motorway tunnel project - in about six weeks.
It acknowledged a "strong response reflecting a high level of community interest" from 710 submissions, 72 per cent of which wanted the ramp back in business, but said its decision was based on a transport assessment of the motorway's capacity.
Acting highways manager Steve Mutton said the study indicated capacity for vehicles to head north from the ramp without affecting the performance of the motorway, except for part of the afternoon peak travel period.
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"These findings, together with the feedback we have received from the community, have led us to support the recommendation from our working group for an opening at this time," he said.
But he said traffic lights would be needed to control flows to the motorway, and warned that capacity was expected to reduce in time.
That meant his organisation would work with Auckland Transport to manage the performance of the area's overall roading system, including that of the ramp, which was used by up to 8000 vehicles a day before being closed for the tunnel project last year.
Herne Bay Residents' Association secretary Christine Cavanagh, whose group organised opposition to extra traffic clogging roads leading to an alternative motorway entry point through Curran St, welcomed the announcement but remained suspicious of the agency.
That was because the agency said in an email to her group that it would consider "constraining" traffic flows from Wellington St during afternoon peak periods. She had no doubt that community pressure, supported by such bodies as Auckland Council's transport committee and the Automobile Association, had forced the agency's hand.
Motorway traffic was subjected to major delays when the Victoria Park tunnel was opened late last year with just two of its three lanes, but has been relatively free-flowing since capacity was increased in February.