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Source: Whangarei District Council

Major improvements to Riverside Drive will soon allow traffic heading into Whangārei from Mackesy Road and Awarua River Road to merge seamlessly with Riverside Drive traffic. 

However, building the new merging lanes and resealing the stretch of road from the bottom of the Onerahi Hill to Riverside Park (by Burnsco Marine) may cause inconvenience to some road users until after ANZAC Day.  

“But before the end of May, slip-lanes will allow traffic to move and merge much more safely. We will have a much better road surface which should last us until we four-lane the road in 2026,” said Capital Works and Procurement Manager Greg Monteith. 

“We will go through another painful patch in 2026 when the road is widened, but usually people are pretty pleased once the roadworks are over and the advantages the works bring are apparent.” 

He said Council was staging the improvements to this arterial route to ensure best use of funds for the greatest number of people. 

“People have asked why we don’t four-lane now and change the roundabout at the same time.  Doing major projects in stages enables us to complete numerous projects across the district every year, rather than focussing on one area and neglecting others.  

“It also means we can adapt the roading system as growth occurs and we can steadily plan ahead, ensuring all the funding, design, consenting and resources for these big jobs are in place when we need them.  

It also means we can avoid having to undo recently completed work when we start a new project. 

“Some people have asked why this month’s work could not be done at night, and I can explain that night works would not have made a difference to the congestion on the road in the past couple of weeks. 

“During the past two weeks, the speed limit past Kissing Point has been reduced to 50 kilometers an hour both day and night, while work has taken place beside the road. It is the reduced road speed, rather than the work on the roadside, that has caused the significant delays for drivers. The road hasn’t been any narrower, and two lanes have been operating, it’s just that the speed has been reduced.

Putting the same number of vehicles through a stretch of road at 50 km/h as would normally go through it at 80 km/h has caused queues.

“Also, at this time of year the ground temperature is too low overnight for a good sealing result.” 

More to come

This week the road is being resealed during the day (between 9am – 3pm, but not at peak hours) between the foot of Onerahi Hill and the bridge just east of Dave Culham Drive roundabout.

During the resealing sections of the road will be down to a single lane under stop/go control, with a 30 kilometres an hour speed limit. 

To minimise holdups the resealing will be split in to three sections to shorten the areas where stop/go control is in place, and reduce the distance drivers need to travel at slow speed. 

The rest of the time two- way traffic flow will resume on Riverside Drive, but traffic speed will be down to 30 kilometres an hour to ensure safety.

When the new chip has compacted into the surface and the remaining loose chip has been swept up, the speed restriction will be lifted. 

“Our aim for the road to be fully swept and line markings to go in by the end of Sunday 21 April, and for normal speeds to resume,” Mr Monteith said. 

Road and lane closures

Dave Culham Drive will be closed between 9am – 3pm on Wednesday 17 April while a section of Riverside from the roundabout, 300 or 500 metres towards Onerahi, is sealed. 

One lane at a time on Riverside Drive will be closed and there will be Stop/Go systems in place. 

Signal phasing on Dent St will be altered to accommodate changes caused by the closure of Dave Culham Drive to city traffic flows. 

A visual message board has been installed at Dave Culham Drive advising motorists of the upcoming closure. Te Matau a Pohe’s sign boards on Okara and Riverside will be set to Closed on Wednesday 17 April between 9am-3pm. 

Each day the work plan and traffic management information will be on Council’s Facebook page. 

 “We hope that the school holidays will reduce traffic through the works this week and ease the pressure for everyone.”

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