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Action called for over 'nightmare' Hill Street intersection in Warkworth

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Commuters and tourists battle the intersection.


After years of issues at a Northland intersection, a group of locals residents have formed an action group in the hope of change.


The 'Fix Hill Street Now Action Group' wants $20 million committed to a major redevelopment of the Warkworth intersection - this is to reduce the traffic congestion and health and safety risks.


One of the group's founders, Mike Francis, says the intersection reaches capacity several times a day even on normal days, and believes the intersection will not cope and the congestion will only get worse.


"The intersection is a main route, and is one of the last rural intersections that is bisected by state highway one," Francis says.


"Community members are living in fear of having an emergency and the services not being able to get to them in time, and many people refuse to leave the house because they are not prepared to wait for up to two hours in peak traffic to get to the nearest shop or hospital."


Today, the annual average daily traffic rate sits at around 37,000 people, and that is only expected to increase.


The population for Warkworth currently sits around 4000 people and with the recommended Unitary Plan it is expected to expand to around 20,000 people - This is not including all the expanding surrounding suburbs, the tourists, workers, or bypassers that use the intersection.


"The intersection is dangerous and many people don't know how to use it."


"Warkworth Primary School is up the road and parents feel forced to drive their children to school as there is no crossing or walkway."


Warkworth Primary School is situated on Hill Street and is soon expecting a new neighbour.


Just recently the land on the corner of View Road has been sold and plans are well underway to open a childcare centre catering for up to 70 children and 10 staff.


"This will add to the daily congestion of school drop-off and pick-ups."


Warkworth resident Tim Ellison believes the intersection is a mess, especially around the school drop-off and pick-up times.


"We have elderly and young people attempting to cross on Matakana Road and taking their lives in their hands," Ellison says.


"Authorities seem powerless or just not interested as the intersection build-up becomes worse and pedestrians risk their lives."


The 'Fix Hill Street Now Action Group' believes the community needs NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and Auckland Transport's support to grow and function normally.


Auckland Transport's Mark Hannan says, both organisations are aware of the challenges and understand the frustrations of both the community and road users.


"A variety of solutions have been investigated however the challenges lie in how they would be implemented and constructed. Consents, approvals and then construction on even a simple design would take time to complete and would cause a considerable amount of disruption to both traffic and the surrounding community," Hannan says.


Currently there is plans in line for a Puhoi to Warkworth motorway and a proposed Matakana Link Road.


Glyn Williams who is also a founder of the group believes the plans will not make up for population growth in Warkworth and eastern towns which have to use the intersection to get to Warkworth.


"These plans are not enough to fix the issue, the intersection needs to be done first. Ideally to allow the traffic to flow easily it would require a roundabout where people only have to worry about giving way to their right," Williams says.


"With the traffic plans that NZTA has in place there would be a short-term drop in traffic numbers but due to increases in traffic volumes predicted over the next six years, the number of cars using the intersection would still be higher than today."


The group has been working with the Rodney Local Board to present a proposal to the Board of Auckland Transport in the hope to get change.


"We feel ignored as there had been calls to redesign the intersection since 1954. In 2006, the NZTA and Rodney District Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding which included funding to rebuild the intersection by 2009, but the agreement was abandoned when the Supercity was created."


"In 2013, NZTA said no work would be undertaken until after the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway was completed and then in 2015, the agency said the motorway and proposed link road to Matakana Road would significantly improve congestion at the intersection, which we disagree on," Williams says.


The group have formed the website fixhillstreetnow.org that includes an online petition for people who are interested.


This website is authorised by Glyn Williams, 2 Heritage Lane, Warkworth.