Newsletter #8 - 10 November 2016
Welcome to our new subscribers and thank you again for all your feedback. We’ve been inundated with messages of support, horror stories about near misses during the Elizabeth Street “safety trial”, and we even got some hate mail from someone blaming us for the trial.
Hill Street is now at the forefront of many discussions, regularly in the press, and the pressure is certainly being applied at many levels.
And the message is getting through. Others are now pushing the message. Firefighters are against the Elizabeth Street trial, shop owners on Elizabeth Street are speaking out, and motorists are filming confused buses and cars driving down the wrong side of Elizabeth Street. The NZTA and Auckland Transport are fielding many complaints about the trial. Cat Railey has also set up her own petition against the trial (http://bit.ly/2fCcKe4.)
We’ve got a great team and it is growing. We know that to fix Hill Street we need to be united. While everyone has a different perspective, skills, and experiences, we’re inclusive. We just don’t sit around a table and moan. We work through the steps to achieve change. If you would like to be involved in any way or know of anyone who might like to get involved, please pass on our details.
Our team decided in July to run a petition over summer after an informational campaign. We believed that the problem with Hill Street was a combination of not understanding the problems and a dysfunctional culture within central and local government unwilling to future proof a woefully outdated and flawed intersection design. In other words, we wanted to show that Hill Street can be fixed now.
We’ve been planning the petition for some time now. We’ve opted for an online petition and a traditional petition that we plan to lodge with Parliament. We’ve got the printing sorted and all the equipment. We’ve even got t-shirts for signature gatherers.
We plan to provide clipboards for shops, cafés, bars and restaurants throughout the district and our volunteers aim to collect signatures from outside supermarkets and megastores.
If your business would like to collect signatures from customers during December, please let us know. If you’d like to join our team of volunteers to collect signatures, please contact us at volunteer@FixHillStreetNow.org. Even if you have half an hour spare, we can pair you up with one our team. Every little bit helps.
While we have been monitoring the trials and tribulations at Elizabeth Street, it has been increasingly apparent that Auckland Transport have been maximizing on the opportunity to gain leverage over NZTA.
The NZTA are primarily concerned about their patch, being through traffic on their stretch of state highway. They would prefer if there were no driveways or roads connecting with theirs. So, when it comes to Hill Street, they would prefer if all the connecting roads didn’t exist (i.e. there was no intersection at all).
Auckland Transport appear to be playing NZTA’s game but doing it in a way to leave NZTA cornered. With the turning restrictions into Hill Street and Elizabeth Street, the latest trial is a turning point. Locals are galvanized, sick of the tinkering, don’t want restrictions, want better access, and a higher capacity.
In the meantime, Auckland Transport is collecting excellent information. Throughout the intersection and beyond (there’s even monitoring at the entrance to Matakana Stables), there are sensors getting better data. NZTA has since set up monitoring sites.
We say, good on Auckland Transport. The data looks to be part of their major redesign process for Hill Street. With the $25-40m set aside for the Matakana Link (which will carry less traffic than Sandspit Road), that sets a higher benchmark for the upgrading of the Hill Street intersection (which handles three times the traffic of Sandspit Road.)
WE’RE NOT DOPES
As much as the Elizabeth Street trial is annoying, it has been a great opportunity to show how sadistic the NZTA’s attitude has been towards Warkworth. With the backlash, NZTA must now look at increasing the capacity of the intersection. The NZTA now have to deal with locals with higher expectations.
It isn’t just the mindset of the NZTA and AT that we need to change, it is our community’s. The more that people see the shape of the intersection is the problem, the more they want that shape changed. That’s why we have adopted the “dog” icon.
Let’s put it another way. The NZTA want to spend $1 billion on a Tollway that will carry less traffic than Sandspit Road. That’s right, bumpy Sandspit Road. We’ll be selling ourselves short if all we ask for is a reconfiguration of the traffic lights or a couple of no right turns when the NZTA have a $100 million fund specifically to fix Warkworth intersections.
Our campaign has never been about whinging about an intersection but rather creating momentum to change it. Central to this has been identifying the problem and then making sure that it is fixed.
We’ve received so many ideas, we thought that we’d test them using our modelling software. Thank you to those who have contributed to our discussion page, which can be found at www.FixHillStreetNow.org/discussion.
We’re regularly tweaking our demonstration model and explaining how the different elements work. Grant sat down with the LMLive team to explain its features (http://bit.ly/2fZjNQy).
Effectively, our ideas and discussion is filling a void that the NZTA and AT created. We’re unleashing Hill Street, not muzzling it.