23 Dec 2022

Wellington Region gets new expressway for Christmas, but some congestion still expected

8:28 pm on 23 December 2022
Southern end of the Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway

The southern end of the new Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway. Photo: Copyright Mark Coote 2022

The Wellington Region has a new expressway for Christmas, but traffic congestion is still expected at its northern end over the busy holiday period.

Opened to all traffic in the early hours of this morning, the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway - a section of State Highway 1 - is expected to decrease travel times between Wellington and Kāpiti Coast.

In information about the new connection on its website however, Waka Kotahi warned motorists there could be congestion at the expressway's northern end during peak times at the point where traffic merged back into a single lane.

The transport agency said in a statement that the northbound passing lane at Forest Lakes, north of Ōtaki, had also been closed for safety reasons as part of the expressway's opening.

A "safe turnaround area" with a reduced speed limit just north of Ōtaki was another potential congestion pinch-point, Waka Kotahi said on its website.

The agency's new online tool showing the likely locations of holiday traffic jams also predicts the northern exit of the new expressway will be the worst spot in the country for congestion most lunchtimes over the next week.

The road was closed at State Highway 1 near Bulls in the Rangitikei region after a three vehicle crash just before 3.30pm.

Police said one person sustained moderate injuries, whilst another received minor injuries.

Diversions were in place on Friday evening, but there were heavy delays and motorists were advised to avoid the area if possible, police said.

Planned roadworks in the Wellington Region

The following works are scheduled to take place across the region over the holiday period:

  • SH1 Ngauranga Gorge: Monday night 26 December to Sunday night 8 January 2023, day/night
  • SH1 Ngauranga Gorge: Southbound one lane closed for rockfall safety works
  • SH58 Haywards Hill to Pauatahanui: During the holidays altered lane layout and restricted speed limit for project works
  • SH2 Between Carterton and Masterton: Northbound and southbound passing lanes closed

On Twitter, Waka Kotahi also advised motorists to plan for stop/go signals both day and night on SH59 between Pukerua Bay and Paekākāriki as slope stabilisation work was undertaken.

Some road closures in both directions between Peka Peka and Waikanae were also signalled as part of "road tie-in" works.

Checkpoints find 15 drivers over the limit

Wellington police are concerned that 15 drivers were caught with excess breath alcohol during a crackdown last night.

Two-and-a-half thousand drivers were tested at checkpoints in the capital and Hutt Valley.

Senior Sergeant Matthew Fitzgerald said getting behind the wheel after drinking was a risk not worth taking.

He said anyone intending to drink should plan how they would get home safely before they headed out, to avoid making a bad decision later.

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