Sorry for publishing the newsletter later than usual. We've had a surge in subscriptions today and we wanted to make sure that everyone was kept up to date with developments.
Our team has been very busy in the past week and some real progress has been made. We were out monitoring traffic patterns during the Kowhai Festival and comparing our research with Auckland Transport data.
Chris Murphy, who is chair of One Warkworth (formerly the Warkworth Area Business Association), invited Rodney Member of Parliament, Mark Mitchell, and newly-elected Councillor for Rodney, Greg Sayers, to view Roger Williams’ presentation about why there is urgency to Fix Hill Street Now. Roger has also been invited to also present to the newly-elected members of the Rodney Local Board.
WHEEL FALLING OFF
One of the key messages that our group is trying to stress is the importance of Hill Street as a transport hub to the region. Yes, in our 'hub-and-spoke' road network the Western Collector and Matakana Link will provide a rim to the wheel but, as we know too well, if the hub is broke, the wheel falls off!
It was universally agreed that the groups at the meeting work together and share information, including communications, research, skills, and experience. It emerged that there was some replication of effort by all and disparity of data.
SIGNS OF PROGRESS?
Mark Mitchell briefed the group about work going on behind the scenes. Following a recent meeting, NZTA has set aside a budget and a team to look at the overall layout of Hill Street. Considering that up until now NZTA and Auckland Transport have only looked at altering the markings and controls without looking at the shape of the intersections, this is encouraging news.
MORE OF A PRIORITY
One area that hasn’t been clear up until now is what will happen to Hill Street’s administration after the completion of the Tollway. Mark Mitchell confirmed our fears that the intersection will become Auckland Transport’s responsibility, much like the former State Highway 1 route through Albany, which has become Dairy Flat Highway.
We are inquiring further about how this arrangement will work. As you know, the Northern Tollway is not State Highway 1 and the State Highway 1 route is still through Orewa and Waiwera, which NZTA apparently still administers.
Regardless, Greg Sayers made it quite clear that he expected the NZTA-funded Warkworth Intersections Improvement Project to fix Hill Street before Auckland Council is landed with it.
Central to our argument as to why Hill Street needs to be fixed first is the construction traffic. On first appearances, the traffic to build a road, subdivision infrastructure, or build houses doesn’t sound like it will create as much traffic as when people are living and commuting from it. From our research, however, you’d be surprised.
When the Northern Tollway was first conceived between Orewa and Puhoi, construction traffic was considered “less than minor.” Onerahi Chaos-Breccia put a spanner in the works to that perception.
According to traffic studies, a dwelling can produce 6-8 traffic movements a day. When subdivisions are built, however, traffic movements can peak at 2-3 times that number. The construction of houses within that subdivision can be 3-4 times that number again.
Take, for example, a simple 50-lot subdivision in Warkworth, Omaha, Snells Beach, Point Wells, or Matakana that includes 300 metres of roading. Due to the soil profile of most subdivisions, clay or a suitable base soil needs be brought in from Dairy Flat or Silverdale for building platforms and roading foundations. Extra excavators need to also separate the soils.
Considering that each truck and trailer unit can carry 20 tonnes of material, each subdivision will require almost 300 truckloads for roading material, 500 truckloads for soil, and 200 trucks for infrastructure material. That’s 1000 trucks – all travelling through Hill Street.
The figure of an extra 1000 traffic movements is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve overlooked the builders, suppliers, sparkies, plumbers, roofers, painters, plasterers, inspectors, engineers, and other staff. If they turn up in the morning, head somewhere for lunch, and then head home, it is easy to see how the traffic generated is easily higher than when the houses are completed.
But we aren’t talking about just 50 houses, are we? Taking into account the amount of infill that One Warkworth is projecting, there will be 10,000+ dwellings built in Warkworth in the next decade – before the Tollway, Matakana Link, and Western Collector are completed.
Can you see how one of our team foresaw the gathering storm years ago?
One of our team, retired transport engineer Roger Williams, provided an extraordinarily insightful submission to the board of inquiry. In his submission, he pleaded that, if the proposed Tollway professed the benefits of the Tollway would outweigh the environmental impact, that at least the benefits be accurate.
Roger’s evidence was given considerable weight. Unfortunately, taking into account everyone else’s fragmented views about Hill Street, many well-intended 'solutions' have created unintended consequences.
One of the concerns about the Tollway was the construction traffic making peak hour traffic worse. The conditions on the resource consent for the Tollway restricted construction traffic to outside peak traffic hours.
Can you see the problem? There are already three hours every work day that are considered peak. Squeezing all that construction traffic into a narrower window will produce three other hours of peak hour traffic. Effectively, the Hill Street intersection will be running at over capacity every hour of every workday.
Roger Williams showed the team the traffic volumes for the roads entering the intersection. Four of the eight points to the intersection (State Highway 1 south, State Highway north, Sandspit Road, and Matakana Road) all peak and level out during a normal working day. This means that the roads are already at capacity.
In the local body elections, Whangaparoa sent a clear message to Auckland Council. All of the local board candidates elected in the Hibiscus Coast subdivision of the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board ran under a Penlink ticket. One even missed out. Even though Penlink was promised, designed, and budgeted for, the recent announcement to push Penlink down the queue was completely unacceptable to voters.
In Rodney, the Rodney First team won a majority of 5 out of 9 positions. They campaigned on making Hill Street a priority.
Our team won’t ease pressure until Hill Street is fixed. You’ll see some billboards popping up throughout the area continuing to highlight how important the intersection is as a hub to our community.
One of our team told Mark Mitchell that we’ll even change the “I Fixed Hill Street” hardhat from orange to blue if he delivers.
Mark did reveal that inside the National caucus other Auckland MPs are lobbying for roading projects. We asked him how we could help, suggesting that he sponsor a petition to Parliament. He would consider sponsoring such a petition if it could demonstrate the level of support to fix Hill Street. We know that it’s not just a Warkworth issue.
Let’s remember that Waimauku only needed to get 5000 signatures from the Helensville electorate to convince the government to investigate a redesign of an intersection there. How many signatures do you think that we could get to fix Hill Street now?
This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you might notice a documentary crew at the intersection. If you see them, please honk your horn to show how frustrated you are with the intersection.
50 YEARS OF DOING NOTHING
As part of our research into how little has changed at the intersection, we’ve unearthed all the aerial and archival photographs of the intersection. You’d be surprised how little has changed. Check out the gallery at the link below, featuring aerial photos from 1966, 1992, 2001, 2006, 2008, and 2010.
If you haven’t already, please check out the synergies section of the designs page on our website. There, we present the case that, considering that current proposals will double the number of intersections through Warkworth, fixing Hill Street can fix other intersections too.
Kowhai Park is a unique place of ecological and historic importance. Under the current configuration, the culvert is insufficient, pedestrian access is poor, the public toilets and dumping station is undesirable, and stormwater runoff from the intersection pollutes the freshwater stream, which is rich in whitebait and other aquatic life.
One of our team has helped design and build the walkways through the reserve. To improve Hill Street intersection, part of the parking area may be needed. Central to our recommendations to improve the intersection is the improvement of Kowhai Reserve. If anyone has any reservations (excuse the pun), or know of anyone who might, please ask them to contact us so that they can be involved with our consultation and design for our submissions.
WHAT IS NEXT?
The next fortnight will be busy. Drone filming continues on Friday. Billboards will be up. There will be more presentations and meetings.
If you would like to donate to our campaign, have ideas, or want to get involved in any other way, please send us a message on our website.