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The Gauntlet: Issue #3


Newsletter #3 - 6 October 2016


There is a real buzz amongst our team as the momentum has started to build. We are acutely aware that, while all our gears are in motion, Hill Street regularly grinds to a halt.


We've been covered in the media in response to the proposed trial of safety improvements at Elizabeth Street. What the news pieces didn't cover is our concern that all the short term tweaks don't appear to be part of an integrated solution.


We ask, what will happen next after half a dozen bollards and four signs restrict State highway and Hill Street traffic into Elizabeth Street? Are we going to get traffic lights next on the corner of Mill Lane and Neville Street (the RSA corner)? How long will the queues be for all that traffic now turning right into Queen Street from Mill Lane? Will we end up with a left-turning, anti-clockwise one-way system from Neville Street, Queen Street, and Mill Lane?


Currently, there is a steady flow along Elizabeth Street, Queen Street, and Baxter Street. Will the extra Whitaker Street traffic create an antagonistic flow that causes gridlock in the town centre?


Talking about unintended consequences, let's not forget that NZTA have $100m for "Warkworth intersection improvements." Warkworth started with three sets of traffic lights. When right-turning into Hill Street was restricted as a "trial", traffic lights were installed at the State Highway 1 intersection with Hudson Road (Remember this: http://bit.ly/2cT5hnE ?) With the rest of the $100m, a further four intersections will be built (either end of the Western Collector at McKinney and the Matakana Lin, at either end of the Matakana Link, and the Tollway). Three intersections increased to eight is not an improvement!


HEARTFELT


We would especially like to thank all the offers of support, ideas, donations, and the media interest.


One cardiothoracic specialist even suggested that Warkworth was shaped like a heart and all the bypasses in the world won’t fix a blocked aorta. (That’s the big red thing at the top of the heart that branches out and circulates blood the rest of the body.) Not a bad comparison, we reckon.





FILMING


There’s been a lot of filming at the intersection recently and none of it has involved us… yet. We know of five media companies filming at the intersection over the next month. We will post their footage when it is available.


MOMENTUM


We’ve spent a lot of time researching the root causes of the lack of action and it is threefold:

1. The snowball effect of an outdated design for a growing population;

2. Fragmented views within Warkworth; and

3. Warkworth being a small fish in a big funding pond.

Warkworth isn’t alone. Our team has seen the problems of getting other intersections fixed. To fix Hill Street now, we need critical mass – an unstoppable and unified juggernaut.


1. THE SNOWBALL EFFECT


When one thing stays constant and others change, a fundamental problem can snowball.


The strange element of the intersection is that, while the surrounding area has changed considerably over time, very little has changed at the intersection during its history. Although most adjoining land remains in Crown hands, the survey plans for the road reserve have changed very little.


Within the road reserve, tar seal has replaced MacAdam unsealed roads, a single roundabout-styled traffic island was replaced by traffic lights in the 1970s, but since then very little has changed. The turning lanes have been lengthened and new technology (called SCATS, which is also used at Auckland motorway onramps) controls the traffic lights.


The fundamental problem, however, remains that there are several intersections in close proximity. Those who want to close Elizabeth Street or restrict access into Hill Street can’t see beyond the shape of the intersections. The shape is so ingrained and