Things were heating up in the past week and not just the weather. For our petition, we’ve tipped the 4,000 signature mark in our first week! This week we’re trying to get the schools on board in the last week of the school year. As anyone of any age or nationality can sign a Parliamentary petition, it is great for democracy that kids show how frustrated they are getting to school and sports events if they have to use the Hill Street intersection.
We must admit that we were caught a bit flat-footed in the first week of our petition campaign. We could wrangle together teams to cover the Warkworth Theatre Group’s performances, Carols in the Park, and Matakana Farmer’s Market. We also managed to do a pub crawl and cover shoppers at New World. Thanks to Mahurangi Matters, Junction Magazine, Rodney Times, and i-site, we’ve put together a calendar so we can scramble teams of signature collectors for each event.
We have circulated 65 petition booklets so far. We also managed to cover several public meetings in Snells Beach and Warkworth and plan to cover Wellsford, Kaiwaka, and Mangawhai. We are confident that the message is getting out there that Hill Street needs to be fixed before it gets any worse.
Hopefully, we should reach the 5,000-signature mark by this time next week. We are enjoying engaging with people. One our team revels in saying to people “Could I interest you in signing a petition to fix that intersection you were stuck at on the way here?”
TEAR DOWN THIS WALL
Today, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and resigning Prime Minister John Key turned the first sod for the Puhoi-Warkworth Tollway in an “invites only” ceremony. Work is apparently starting on the Mahurangi River crossing off Woodcocks Road. We’ll keep an eye on whether any construction traffic uses Hill Street.
In today’s Rodney Times, NZTA Auckland and Northland Highway Manager Brett Gliddon bleated the same cut and paste soundbites that locals are now used to, but with a twist:
“Within five years there will be a world class motorway which is costing hundreds of millions of dollars to improve transport choices in the region.”
"When both the RoNS and Matakana Link are finished it will have a combined effect of removing more than 8,500 vehicles a day from the intersection."
NZTA are spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to remove “more than 8,500 vehicles a day from the intersection”? Did he even contemplate that more traffic uses Elizabeth Street (9900), Sandspit Road (11,000), and Matakana Road (10,000) than will use the Tollway?
“A section bridging the Mahurangi River is being built now. When all of this work has been done we will upgrade the Hill Street intersection based on the traffic flows at that time.” (http://bit.ly/2hlkrom)
“At that time?” By then, the amount of traffic using the Hill Street intersection would have increased from 37,000 vehicles a day to more than 70,000.
We’re not asking for much. We aren’t asking for “hundreds of millions of dollars” or even the $25-40 million that NZTA has allocated for a Matakana Link. We just want an intersection with sufficient capacity to deal with current safety and congestion issues and for the growth that the Auckland Council Unitary Plan has zoned for.
We can see past Brett Gliddon’s stonewall. We know that there are engineers beavering away behind it.
A.T. PHONE HOME
Since Auckland Transport’s show of interest at last week’s meeting, we haven’t heard a thing. We suspect that they have been internalizing really complicated situations in their collective heads.
One thing they are probably contemplating is the quality of their data. One problem is that they collected data at ten different places on the intersection at different times of the year. As we know, the intersection has many different types of peak flow at different times of the day, week, month, and year. Is the reason for the “unanticipated traffic growth” due to collecting the wrong data at the wrong time?
Another problem is when data becomes the emphasis when the fundamental design of the intersection is flawed. With the Elizabeth Street trial, we don’t know what Auckland Transport mean by the trial collecting better data. One lane on the Sandspit Road intersection with Elizabeth Street still fans out to those three lanes at the lights. Data means nothing if gridlock results once there is a queue of three vehicles at the lights.
Another issue that baffles us is all the hesitation surrounding “land issues” regarding fixing Hill Street. We all know that the slip lane on the corner of Sandspit Road and Elizabeth Street encroaches on someone’s property. We knocked on the door of the landowner and he wants Hill Street fixed now too. He’s even let us erect a billboard on his fence. We suggest that A.T. phone his home to sort this issue out.
While we were erecting the billboard, a dozen vehicles did U-turns across the Sandspit Road/Millstream Place intersection to access Elizabeth Street. Residents of Millstream Place call the manoeuvre a “Millie.”
TURN FOR THE WORSE
A typical X-shaped intersection has four points and each point can turn three ways. That’s 12 turning decisions. The Hill Street intersection has eight points, meaning that it should have 56 turning decisions.
So far, the NZTA has banned right turns into Hill Street to provide for longer green lights for northbound State Highway 1 traffic and right-turning traffic into Sandspit Road. The trial banning State Highway 1, Hill Street, and Kowhai Park traffic into Elizabeth Street. So, that’s 51 turning decisions left.
Continuing the NZTA’s logic, with the growth in traffic on Sandspit Road, the next turns to be banned are:
Right turns from Kowhai Park;
Right turns from Sandspit Road (you’ll have to use Sharp’s Road); and
Right turns from Millstream Place (you’ll have to do a u-turn somewhere else).
The problem with the whole intersection is that most traffic makes right turns, such as turning from the State Highway into Sandspit Road and turning across southbound Matakana Road traffic into Sandspit Road. The NZTA’s solution is to ban the least popular right turns first to appease the most popular right turns.
Let’s not forget that the Tollway will change this pattern significantly. More State Highway traffic will turn left and more Sandspit Road traffic will turn right. Confused?
There is a reason why our engineers have developed a suggested roundabout for the intersection. All you have to do is look right to get onto the intersection and then you just look for your exit to your left. All those 56 turning combinations is simplified by one distributing roundabout.
WE HAVE A WINNER!
One of our team took an amusing photo of a vehicle transporter trying to negotiate the intersection. We thought that we would run it as a caption contest and offer a t-shirt as a prize.
Bev Ball came up with the winning caption of:
“How to get 6 vehicles across on one green light!”
Bev has a point. Well done! We’ll contact you to get your details.
An honourable mention to Beth Houlbrooke for her suggestion:
“New trial to get more traffic through.”
We’ve received several great entries in our billboard contest too. We’ll run a poll soon on which ones you like.
THANK YOU 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.
Please contact Alan at (027)2419033 or email@example.com if you have any time available to help us collect signatures for our petition.
To make a donation, our bank account details are:
Account Name: “FixHillStreetNow Action Group” Bank Account Number: 12-3095-0042062-00.