The new Kirkbride Underpass on SH20A to Auckland Airport opened early this morning, but not as smoothly as had hoped.
While early-bird commuters seemed to get through the underpass easily after 6am this morning, by 8:30am the congestion had built up so much that New Zealand Transport Agency recommended commuters use the Puhinui Rd route, SH20B for Auckland Airport-bound traffic.
It's believed a crash at the Landing Dr roundabout caused the congestion and major delays.
The long-awaited underpass now separates highway traffic from local roads, including Mangere Central School entrance which was less than 100m from the main motorway traffic.
NZ Transport Agency’s Senior Manager Project Delivery, Chris Hunt, says separating the two sets of traffic will improve flows and make travel through the area safer and more reliable.
“A number of intersections along the route have also been improved which will help connect the local community and make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, especially the many school children using the area each day.”
The estimated project cost for the underpass was over $160 million, and this upgrade follows the opening of the Waterview Tunnel in July which NZTA says has already improved travel times for people heading to and from the airport.
Hunt says, "By giving people a real choice of routes including State Highway 1 and the Waterview Tunnel, travel times to and from the airport are now consistently faster."
More information can be found on the NZTA website.