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Will the interim Hill Street intersection improvements fix issues?

The latest quick fix to the Hill St intersection is "lose-lose-lose" for residents, proponents says.

Auckland Transport (AT) and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) are investigating interim improvements to Warkworth's Hill Street intersection.

A trial that is said to be in place before Christmas will involve the banning of turning right onto Elizabeth Street in the hope to reduce one set of traffic movements and help vehicles move easily through the intersection.

Changes include using half a dozen orange 'safe-hit' flexible posts and removing the giveway from Sandspit Road adjacent to Elizabeth Street.

It will also include the installing of additional queue detector loops, both on the highway and on Matakana Rd approaches to help monitor traffic flow and help signal timings to be adapted as soon as the intersection starts to become congested.

NZTA's Sarah Azam hopes that by simplifying the number of turning movements, it will reduce confusion and make it easier to use.

"Drivers on the state highway will enter Warkworth town centre at Whitaker Road (south of Hill St), drivers exiting Hill St will turn right onto the state highway and enter Warkworth township via Whitaker Rd, and drivers exiting Warkworth at Elizabeth St will continue to have unrestricted movement at this intersection," she says.

Fix Hill Street Now Action Group member and former infrastructure analyst Grant McLachlan believes it is a safety fix as it removes confusion, but says "it will increase congestion."

"The trial will send State Highway 1 and Hill Street traffic on a two kilometre detour through the congested Hill St, Whitaker Rd, and Mill Rd/Neville St intersections. That is a lose-lose-lose short term hindrance when there is the money to find a long term solution," he says.

The group believe that there is no provision for the planned urban growth and that the lack of entrances to the central business district from the north would be a further disincentive to people stopping at Warkworth.

"NZTA and AT need to work together on this, it is just going to annoy a lot of people and be more of an inconvenience," McLachlan says.

"Three hundred extra construction trucks are all going to go through this intersection on a work day to build on other intersections, it makes more sense to fix the congestion problem now to make life easier."

McLachlan believes in order to develop and implement a future proof solution it will cost around $15-20 million.

"It is all well within their budget, and there will be no better, easier or cheaper time to fix it then now. The intersection is a major regional hub where there is considerable growth and it has taken them a year to add four signs and a half a dozen posts, Hill Street intersection needs to be a priority."

Public feedback on the changes will be sought during the trial period.

- Rodney Times

Proposed trial

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