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The Gauntlet: Issue #7


Newsletter #7 - 3 November 2016


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.


Please vote at the following link: https://www.neighbourly.co.nz/message/view/15568559


DIDN’T GET THE MEMO

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?


FOB OFF

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?


POKER FACE

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.