By ROBYN BRISTOW
A third southbound lane on the Waimakariri Bridge is being assessed by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA).
The decision to look at a third lane option follows lobbying by local politicians and commuters keen to reduce congestion into Christchurch each morning for work.
Highway manager NZTA Colin Knaggs says a third lane on the northbound side of the bridge was already designed into the motorway projects under way on the northern and western sides of Christchurch City. But a southbound option was also now being assessed.
“It could be constructed, if agreed, within the contract with the Christchurch Northern Corridor Alliance (2016 to 2020 timeframe),” says Mr Knaggs.
The next formal step is to discuss the option and its effects with the Christchurch City Council, then with the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Group partners which is scheduled in April 2017.
Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers believes a third lane option is a logical step in dealing with congestion, a view supported by Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey.
“This is the kind conversations we are having,” they say.
Mr Ayers says traffic from Kaiapoi and Tram Road merged at the bridge and a third lane on the bridge would help.
However, he says the project is not in the Waimakariri district but he has made his views known because he is keen for a third lane to help Waimakariri commuters in the long term and says it would be logical for it to be done in conjunction with the motorway projects already under way.
Mr Ayers says when the projects all kick in more people from Kaiapoi would use the motorway, rather than the old Main North Road bridge and while this did not mean more traffic heading into the city it did shift it from one bridge to the other.
He was keen to see this happen so that the old Main North Road bridge could become a public transport route with less traffic on it. A third lane would therefore improve public transport options and the capacity for Tram Road and Kaiapoi commuters.
Mr Doocey also believes a third southbound lane should be considered now and built into the existing motorway projects which would allow commuters to have a more “reliable travel time”.
He says many of his constituents have contacted him about frustrating unreliable travel times and they wanted a third southbound lane to be considered as a way of improving their
commute into the city.
“I believe a third southbound lane could help future proof the whole network,” says Mr Doocey.