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NZ Transport Agency unmoved on Hill Street fix

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The Fix Hill Street Now group is revving up. Group members Mike Francis, left, and Grant McLachlan are launching a petition this month and have been installing billboards around Mahurangi, playing on the dog-like features of the intersection layout. Auckland Transport and NZTA are putting in place interim measures to reduce traffic congestion at the intersection this month, but a major redesign will still be at least six years away.

The campaign to ‘Fix Hill Street Now’ is hitting the road, with 12 billboards going up around Mahurangi and a petition set to get underway. Group member Grant McLachlan says the petition will be available at the end of the month and they plan to present it to Parliament next year. The first billboards went up on the approaches to the intersection before Labour Weekend, leading to a spike in people visiting the group’s website, “People are starting to realise it’s a hub for the whole region. We need to make sure work on the intersection is completed well before the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway opens.” NZTA is remaining uncommitted to starting work to ‘fix’ the intersection, but the agency has agreed to review designs for a complete rebuild of the intersection.

Auckland and Northland highway manager Brett Gliddon has reiterated that it will not start work on the intersection before 2022 and it will not ready to commit to a timeframe for the project. He says a major overhaul of Hill Street would take about four years to complete, with design, designation and resource consent taking about two years and a further two years for construction. “By that time, the new motorway will almost be completed anyway, whereas you’d have had that period of disruption with no alternative route,” Mr Gliddon says. “The best option is to wait until the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway and Matakana Link Road are built, reducing traffic through the intersection.” But NZTA and Auckland Transport (AT) have started work designing a new intersection. The Fix Hill Street Now group has provided the agencies with 16 different design options and NZTA will undertake a traffic survey this month. Meanwhile, the two agencies are implementing interim measures to alleviate congestion. A three-month trial blocking traffic from turning from State Highway One into Elizabeth Street will start on November 7. The move will create an unimpeded slip-lane for traffic travelling from Snells Beach and Matakana into Warkworth, as the left-turn give way sign for traffic entering Warkworth will be removed. Temporary “traffic control devices” will be installed to prevent traffic turning into Elizabeth Street. AT is also installing queue detector loops on SH1 and Matakana Road so traffic light phases can be managed more efficiently. AT media advisor James Ireland says it expects the measures will significantly improve traffic flows. “Following the completion of the trial, the decision will be made whether to install these features for the duration of the summer season.” Letters detailing the changes will be sent to residents this month and large signs will be in place near the intersection alerting drivers to the changes.

A barrier will go up on November 7, blocking traffic from entering Elizabeth Street from SH1.

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