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The Gauntlet: Issue #10

Newsletter #10 - 24 November 2016

Debate about Hill Street is really gaining momentum. In the past fortnight, the topic has dominated letters to the editor in the local newspapers. Check out the letters in today’s issue of the Rodney Times here:

For our team, this week has been about the logistics of organizing the petition. We would especially like to thank Harveys Warkworth for their generous use of their printer to print our petition booklets, flyers, and posters.

Over the next week, we’re also giving presentations to local industry associations about the need to Fix Hill Street Now.


On Wednesday 30 November, we will be launching our petition at the Bridgehouse. We will also be revealing our different billboards that will be erected the following day.

Starting at 5:30pm at the bar, we will mingle, show what we have been up to, what progress we have made, and what to look forward to. Our engineers will give a brief presentation about the problems and what can be done.

Pencil in that date and time. We’ll be circulating flyers to shopowners during the week to promote the meeting.


It is one thing to demand something to be done and another to ensure that it can be done. Petitions are no different.

The purpose of a petition is to send a message to show the strength of feeling of a community to get action from elected officials on a particular issue. The message must be clear so that officials don’t find excuses to dismiss it, hijack the petition, or to do something else.

Petitions lodged with Parliament are tabled for the public record. Just like Citizens Initiated Referenda, they aren’t binding, however. Online petitions can be presented to ministers.

Taking into account the strength of feeling not only amongst locals but also across the wider region, we have chosen to run a manual petition and online system simultaneously. We’ve created our own online petition system that is as close as possible to what would otherwise comply with Parliamentary Standing Orders. We will provide both the petitions to our sponsor, Mark Mitchell MP, who will table the manual petition with the House of Representatives and the online petition with the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges.


Our message is quite simple: “Fix Hill Street Now.” In terms of the “5 Ws and H”:


We want the government.


To improve the Hill Street intersection to remedy current and future congestion and safety problems.


The area intersecting State Highway 1, Hill Street, Elizabeth Street, Matakana Road, Sandspit Road, Millstream Place, and Kowhai Park.


Before other roading projects make the problem worse.


Because the problem will get worse.


By using the fund set aside under New Zealand Transport Agency’s “SH1 Warkworth intersection improvements” project.

We worked with the Clerk of the House of Representative to bring these elements together into the following approved petition wording:

“I, the undersigned,

request that the House of Representatives recommend to the Government,

as part of the New Zealand Transport Agency’s “SH1 Warkworth intersection improvements” project,

that it prioritise design, funding, and works improvements for the Hill Street intersection

(being the intersections of State Highway 1, Hill Street, Elizabeth Street, Matakana Road, Sandspit Road, Millstream Place, and Kowhai Park)

to address current and future safety and congestion issues

and commence necessary works before any other nearby works exacerbate congestion at the intersection.”

We will be circulating petition booklets to local businesses. These booklets also include information explaining the cause of problems with Hill Street and why it needs to be fixed now before matters get worse. When you see the booklets by the till, please have a flick through before you consider signing.


The Kaikoura and Wellington earthquakes have really shown the value of Google Maps’ navigation system. Before government agencies figured out what was going on, Google gave real-time updates of locations of where traffic wasn’t moving. Even though the cellular network was down in many places, GPS units were still sharing signals with satellites orbiting the Earth. Emergency response teams could see where to respond.

This reminded us of an experience shared by one of our team recently.

One of our team was returning from Auckland International Airport on a Wednesday afternoon. Google Maps Navigator told him that the journey’s arrival time would be 5:37pm. Although the navigator suggested a route through back roads in Epsom and North Shore around the sites of four accidents, the navigator only deviated by +/- 1 minute either side of 5:37pm for most of the way.

Then came Hill Street. Although Google Maps factored in the intersection in its journey timing, it didn’t expect a hatchback with the bumper sticker “Sorry, we’re Canadian” to turn left from Matakana Road into Sandspit Road, cutting in front instead of giving way. The arrival time swiftly changed to 5:41pm and our team member was first in a long queue of vehicles traveling at less than 50km/h the whole way to Snells Beach Motel.

The moral of the story is that GPS is a two-way system. It not only tells you where you are but you also shares your driving habits. It also collects data when there isn’t cellular coverage.

Our website has real-time traffic updates of congestion at the Hill Street intersection. Find a direct link to the intersection here: Try Google Maps traffic function on your smartphone here:


You may have seen the bumper sticker “I might be slow but I’m in front of you.” Part of what makes Hill Street temperamental is its inability to cope with waves of traffic.

Traffic often approaches the intersection in waves. The waves are from neighbouring traffic lights, queues behind slower vehicles, and ghost congestion.

“Ghost congestion” is when hesitation and sudden changes in speed cause a chain reaction. We see this on the many intersections on Sandspit Road approaching the Hill Street intersection. Larger vehicles need longer headway to clear intersections so can cause queues to accumulate behind. See a demonstration here:

The traffic lights at Whitaker Road to the south and Hudson Road to the north sends 20-second clusters of accumulated traffic towards the intersection. Slower traffic - such as school buses, motorhomes and trucks - often cause queues to accumulate behind them along Matakana and Sandspit Roads.

At traffic lights, a heavy vehicle’s length and slow acceleration affects the number of vehicles able to clear a green light phase. 18-20 standard vehicles can clear during a 20-second phase and we estimate that one heavy vehicle equates to five standard vehicles.

Currently, between 7-9 percent of traffic using the intersection are heavy vehicles, meaning that 1-2 are in each green light phase. According to NZTA’s evidence and the conditions of consent for the Tollway, there could be an additional 4 construction vehicles per green light phase.

Do the math. Not only will the intersection be at over-capacity due to the construction traffic but most of the traffic will be heavy vehicles.


Thank you for subscribing and thank you to donors and volunteers who have got our campaign into full swing. Please contact us if you would like to donate, volunteer, or have any suggestions.

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