Traffic lights on a motorway?

Surely, this is a joke?

Apparently, it isn’t.

Until a week ago I was looking forward to Waterview motorway connection like a kid waiting for Christmas. Correction: Like a kid who has been waiting 40 years for Christmas.

That’s as long as I’ve lived in Auckland and for all that time I have resented our ridiculous route to the airport.

Having to leave the motorway at Gillies Ave or Market Rd and wind through suburban streets has been a disgrace to a decent city. No wonder foreigners taking a taxi from the airport to the CBD start to wonder if they are being hijacked in Pah Rd. Ever since we were promised the Waterview connection would provide motorway all the way from the North Shore and central city, I have been counting the years and months until its scheduled opening, just a month away now.

Then last weekend, we heard it will have traffic lights. ?

Traffic lights? They make sense to me on entrance ramps but not half way along a motorway.

Drivers use motorways to avoid them.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has discovered it will need lights to control the flow into the new Waterview tunnels from the northwestern motorway and the eastbound exit. Only the westbound exit will let the traffic flow unimpeded so that, with any luck, there will not be a build-up of traffic in the tunnel.

What this means is the damned tunnels are not big enough. It’s the Harbour Bridge again. No sooner had it opened than it became apparent four lanes would not be enough. But a tunnel is harder to enlarge.

They have built a bottleneck.

That’s just insane. Traffic lights in a motorway defies the logic of having a motorway in the first place. We can blame Helen Clark in the first place who proclaimed to us all that it would be over her dead body that the motorway be above ground. That was because it ran through her electorate. She has, of course, shot through, and so has the next MP.

They should name it Helen Clark. As local MP and Prime Minister at the time, she was given the credit, as it was called, for insisting the planned connection go underground. The good citizens of Onehunga and Mt Roskill had the new southwestern motorway slicing through their suburb but Waterview was sacred.

As far as I can see, the Oakley Creek and Carrington Hospital, now Unitec, form a natural boundary for Waterview anyway, and a motorway along there not have divided the harbourside community but that’s water under the bridge.

We are going to get light-controlled tunnels.

So much for my dream of driving to the airport with no hold-ups on a long, sweeping loop through the western suburbs and down onto that magnificent new motorway through Mangere. Instead, queues may back up on the interchange lanes to and from the tunnels.

Still, it will be an improvement on the rabbit run through Epsom.

It’s just a pity she is still alive, then they could be the Helen Clark Memorial Tunnels.


– NZ Herald