Welcome to our new subscribers and thank you again for all your feedback. Momentum is certainly building and many are taking notice of our message. Thanks again to the teams at Rodney Times and Mahurangi Matters for your generous coverage of our antics. If you haven't seen our press coverage, please visit www.FixHillStreetNow.org/news.
This week we have a bumper issue as, during the coming week, there will be a lot going on and some explaining to do.
VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN
Rodney Times, as part of their campaign on Rodney traffic issues, are running an online poll on their partner website, Neighbourly. The question is whether people support the trial at the Hill Street intersection restricting access into Elizabeth Street. The options are:
Yes, simplifying the number of turning movements will be less confusing;
No, a quick fix will add to congestion; and
Something else (tell us in the comments);
Technically, the correct answer is No. There will be more congestion on State Highway 1 and Whitaker Road.
Regarding the yes option, there will be confusion. Traffic turning right out of Elizabeth Street will still have to give way to the left. It just means that vehicles pulling out to complete their turn won’t be t-boned by traffic turning into Elizabeth Street. Some traffic will also try to do a u-turn at Millstream Place to access Elizabeth Street. We analyse the issue in our myths section: http://bit.ly/2eQSq7s.
We’ve been working away in the background, trying to improve safety for pedestrians wanting to cross Sandspit Road. We haven’t been getting anywhere, especially the pedestrians.
Auckland Transport are working with the NZTA on possible solutions for Hill Street. In such a relationship, occasionally someone doesn’t get the memo.
A senior official explained why a pedestrian crossing wasn’t possible. He said “[A]s the intersection is already operating to capacity in all directions there would still be operational issues with moving traffic safely through the intersection.”
Ummm… Say that again? According to the conditions of consent for the Tollway, construction traffic can’t use Hill Street at peak times, especially when it is running at capacity.
We know that traffic has increased at a greater rate than projections. We also know that the Unitary Plan has zoned more areas for residential intensification since the Tollway decision. Has Auckland Transport just admitted that the Tollway construction will be held up by not being able to use Hill Street?
You may have noticed NZTA official Brett Gliddon “reiterated” that there would not be work on improvements to Hill Street until the Tollway was completed (http://bit.ly/2eWon0F). The NZTA said the same thing about the Matakana Link Road until they announced in September (in the build up to the local body elections) that they would “fast-track it.”
We know that teams were working on designing the Matakana Link early this year. We know that there is a design team now working on Hill Street. Can we expect an announcement in the lead up to next year’s general election?
There is a power culture based on “I know something you don’t know” at local and central government levels.
Take for example, what happened in the background when recently-elected Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers delivered his maiden speech. At the 3:10 mark when Greg mentions Hill Street, Chief Operating Officer Dean Kimpton looks to Infrastructure and Environmental Services Director Barry Potter. Barry points at an item in front of him. See for yourself: http://bit.ly/2efcmzB. That is not a good look.
WHAT ELSE ARE THEY NOT TELLING US?
We know that the NZTA is also looking at building Tollway connections for Woodcocks Road. "The deal is done and dusted" says one local. NZTA have been denying this for years. When will they announce this?
For a start, we are more than annoyed about such piecemeal decision making. It’s almost like they are operating from crisis to crisis – crises of their own doing.
It will be interesting what process they intend to follow. We expect the Environmental Protection Agency to hold another hearing as the implications of such an amendment to a consent is more than minor and affecting many parties.
Let’s be clear about two things. First, any Woodcocks connection to the Tollway will not fix the fundamental flaws in the design at Hill Street. Please don’t be fooled that this is another last-minute ‘quick fix.’ Second, Brett Gliddon is just doing his job and taking orders. The minister needs to clarify what is going on and set a clear direction to maintain his officials’ credibility.
APPLES WITH TOMATOES
With everything going on in NZTA, we’ve been wondering what they’ve based their decision making on. Political pressure seems to be substituting quality data. We are wondering whether the lack of data is deliberate.
Once the Tollway is finished, we were wondering what type of traffic would want to use the old State Highway 1 route?
According to the NZTA’s evidence, in 2009 14,500 vehicles per day passed Windy Ridge. After the Tollway is completed, they reckon that 14,400 vehicles per day would pass the same point. Without the Tollway, that number would be 25,300. Only 13,700 would use the Tollway. (p.30 here: http://bit.ly/2f6NtM9)
‘Journey times’ is the main justification for the Tollway. The Tollway has a smoother alignment and traffic speed isn’t limited by the slowest tractor using it.
NZTA pitched the Tollway to Puhoi and Warkworth residents that it would benefit them. Instead, the traffic between Hatfields Beach and Hill Street is expected to use the old route by frustrating access to the Tollway.
How do they plan to do this? The NZTA flatly refuse to touch Hill Street, aggravating journey times for those south of the intersection. Also, the only ramps at Puhoi will be an on ramp heading south and a northbound off ramp to Puhoi (see the PDF here: http://bit.ly/2fwYXsp).
Steering the current State Highway 1 route after the completion of the Tollway will be Auckland Transport. We reckon it’s going to be renamed the Kowhai Highway. What can we expect?
Let’s look at former State Highway 1 routes, renamed the Dairy Flat Highway and the Hibiscus Coast Highway. The first thing Auckland Transport did was reduce the speed limit. Then they closed or shortened the odd passing lane and allowed more intensification of developments along its route.
Since NZTA no longer administered the Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection with Whangaparoa Road, Millwater now taps onto it, and Penlink’s priority has been downgraded.
What’s that done for ‘journey times’?
APPLES WITH APPLES
The best data on intersection capacities is Christchurch. Even better, that information is free, online, and been updated regularly since 1999. Considering the amount of construction traffic in Christchurch, we’ve taken into account the amount of heavy and commercial traffic.
Comparing Hill Street with Christchurch, one intersection that stood out is the Moorhouse Avenue/Colombo Street intersection (http://bit.ly/2ed1lP7). Here, there is a lot of arterial through traffic intersecting with a major local road heading towards the central business district.
Hill Street is the centre of Warkworth. It acts as a local distributor but is lop-sided due to the amount of arterial and through traffic.
Comparing Christchurch intersections, we’ve been modelling at what points there would need to be grade separation.
Grade separation is the aligning of transport routes so that they will not disrupt the traffic flow on other routes when they cross each other. There are three major points at Hill Street of disrupting flow:
State Highway 1 Southbound with traffic turning into and out of Sandspit Road;
Matakana Road Southbound with Sandspit Road Northbound turning right into Sandspit Road; and
Elizabeth Street turning right into Sandspit Road.
Many aggregates, construction materials, and equipment are stored at the southern end of Warkworth. The southern end of Warkworth has also been zoned to allow an additional 5,000 dwellings plus infill. They are highly likely to use Hill Street to access the Tollway.
The greatest problem is that Sandspit Road traffic at the current intersection with State Highway 1 will swell to an average of 42,000 traffic movements a day by 2026, compared to 33,909 at State Highway 1’s southern point and 19,593 for its northern point.
We think that there is a strong case for grade separation. To promote discussion, we’ve put together what grade separation could look like and how it would work. Please check out our design ideas at www.FixHillStreetNow.org/design. Please tell us what you think.
WHAT IS NEXT?
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.
We’re getting ready for the petition launch so if you wish to display a clipboard in your business or gather signatures outside supermarkets, please drop us a line.