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(L–R): AMA maintenance manager Gary Bonser, acting AMA director Jennifer Hart, and NZTA acting system manager Paul Geck take delivery of the MBT-1 mobile motorway barrier

New mobile safety barrier for Auckland motorways

Auckland motorists will soon be sharing the motorway with a new road maintenance vehicle that’s expected to improve safety, efficiency and traffic flows.


The MBT-1, a 20 m long mobile motorway barrier, rolled off a container ship in Auckland at the end of March. The barrier will provide a highly mobile, protected work environment for motorway workers and is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. 

It drives fully set up, like a semi-truck, and can be easily positioned and driven from one site to another. Once it’s in position, crew can quickly move inside the barrier and get to work.

“The safest way to carry out essential maintenance is usually to shut down an entire section of motorway, no matter how many lanes there are,” says the NZ Transport Agency’s system manager, Steve Mutton. “The MBT will allow crews to quickly get to work in a safe and protected manner while still keeping some lanes open to traffic. It’s a win-win situation for safety and traffic flow.”

Protection, flexibility and agility

The MBT-1 will be used by the Auckland Motorway Alliance (AMA) which is responsible for the maintenance and operation of Auckland’s motorways. The AMA makes dozens of night-time closures a week to carry out essential safety and maintenance work on stretches of motorway and on and off ramps. The closures are mostly at night when traffic is light and closures cause least disruption and delays. The MTB will give the crews new protection, flexibility and agility. 

The MBT-1 is widely used on American motorways, where road crews had found that setting up and breaking down a work site often took longer than the work itself. With the mobile barrier, crews are doing in one night what used to take three to five nights.

“With side walls that are nearly 2 m high, the MBT-1 will also provide a physical and visual separation from passing traffic. ‘Rubberneckers’ will be less inclined to slow down and look because the barrier’s solid wall means they can’t really see anything,” says Mr Mutton. “Traffic will be able to flow freely past in its own lanes.”

Power, lights and signage

The MBT-1 will be self-contained, carrying its own power, lights and signage. The barrier’s onboard and internal storage can carry tonnes of equipment and supplies, which will help reduce the number of other work vehicles parking on the motorway while work is carried out.

“The barrier will be particularly useful on jobs such as chip seal, pothole repairs, median barrier replacements or repairs, and where there are a number of discrete work areas and separate locations in a given day or night,” says Mr Mutton.

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