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Big moves on Auckland Airport roading network

COVID-19 might have slowed international passenger numbers but work on Auckland Airport’s roading network continues to crank up.

From next Tuesday, October 27, the main route into the airport will close over five consecutive nights until Sunday, November 1, to allow for the removal of an overhead gantry – colloquially known on the airport precinct as the Pirate Mast – and the installation of three new overhead gantry structures spanning the road. Directional road signage will be displayed on each gantry.

It marks the halfway point of Northern Network, a project to expand and upgrade road access into Auckland Airport along George Bolt Memorial Drive, the main road into the airport from the north.

General manager infrastructure André Lovatt says work on the Northern Network project closed down in the early weeks of the pandemic, with Auckland Airport carrying out a review of the roading project alongside other development priorities within the company’s broader infrastructure development programme.

“It was a good exercise to undertake because it confirmed that the fundamentals of this project still stand strong. We are operating in a period of significantly reduced passenger numbers, but we remain confident about our future and we need to ensure our roading network is ready for the return of international air travel.

“Given the uncertainty around the timing of aviation’s recovery, we have reworked the project so we can deliver it in a sustainable way, focusing on what’s most important now and completing the remainder of the project in stages."

The priority work underway is a widening of George Bolt Memorial Drive to include high occupancy vehicle lanes, with shared pedestrian and cycle paths alongside and new wayfinding gantries overhead. Currently, traffic volumes along this route are 55 per cent lower than pre-COVID-19.

“We know how important the George Bolt Memorial Drive upgrade is to create a resilient and reliable linkage between the airport and the central city. By widening the road, we’re increasing its capacity and supporting public-transport options,” says André.

“We’re also taking the opportunity to carry out these works now to minimise disruption to road users while there are fewer vehicles on the road. It’s the same approach we followed for the recent runway maintenance works – taking the opportunity to deliver on investment in core infrastructure to avoid disruption to the public while the work is completed.”

Auckland Airport will use a staged approach to deliver other development projects as demand increases. These transport projects include:

  • A new one-way, loop road bringing traffic through a pick-up/drop-off zone at the international terminal before connecting back into George Bolt Memorial Drive
  • The new Altitude Drive which will provide additional roading capacity and allow terminal-bound traffic greater journey-time reliability
  • Development on Laurence Stevens Drive, where high-occupancy vehicle lanes are being added to help bring in travellers connecting to the airport from the south, aligning with major public-transport developments in the Southwest Gateway project.

Auckland Airport’s joint project with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency on State Highway 20B is adding mass-transit lanes and means that both the southern and northern entrances to the airport precinct are benefitting from significant upgrades

“Despite the impact of COVID-19, at Auckland Airport we remain committed to delivering a resilient transport network that will serve the needs of the airport and the Auckland region during the recovery and well into the future,” says André.

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