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The Gauntlet: Issue #13

Newsletter #13 - 15 December 2016

The past week has been busy. Our petition has hit the 5,000 signature milestone. One team decided to visit the shops in Warkworth’s town centre during a Friday lunchtime and picked up 400+ signatures.

A special thank you to Rae at Not Just Hats for donating a hat to one of our team suffering from a “sunblock malfunction.” We’ve seen him wearing it every day since!

STOP THE PRESS! Our team is used to news about Hill Street emerging on Thursday. This week is no exception.

We’ve been told by Auckland Transport that the Elizabeth Street trial is ending prematurely tomorrow evening. If so, this brings an end to the bollards blocking State Highway 1, Hill Street, and Kowhai Park traffic into Elizabeth Street.

Regardless of arguments in favour or against, the strategy of benefitting one group of road users at the detriment of others had a high risk of backfiring. Instead of dividing Warkworth, the trial got the community talking about Hill Street.

WHAT’s NEXT? The Elizabeth Street trial not only highlighted how important Elizabeth Street is to the overall balance of traffic flow through the town centre but also the need to seriously address the flaws in the layout of Hill Street.

Just like the Hill Street trial, Auckland Transport and the NZTA didn’t get the best data. Hudson Road traffic didn’t increase noticeably when the right turn into Hill Street was blocked because Hill Street residents did “Hillies” (turning left into Sandspit Road, then right towards the lights). Similarly, during the Elizabeth Street trial, Hill Street residents did “Millies” (performing u-turns at Millstream Place to enter Elizabeth Street.)

Auckland Transport can, however, learn a lot from the trial. We now know the capacity of intersections on Whitaker Road and Neville Street. The intersections at either end of Mill Lane also need serious investigation.

Regardless of the safety issues of the slip lane traffic crossing Sandspit Road traffic into Elizabeth Street, Warkworth’s town centre is more convenient to get to off the main road than other centres, such as Orewa, Silverdale, and Albany. A lot of traffic from the north stop at the Warkworth shops to and from home.

The design teams have a lot to consider. Minor tweaks here and there can’t fix capacity issues. Neither does the “throw another lane on” mindset. They haven’t gone full circle but they are looking at roundabouts.

NZTA can see the effect of obstructing flow to a high street with more traffic than their proposed Tollway. They didn't buy the time that they thought they could. With or without the bollards, their traffic control room will need to be more hands-on with the traffic light sequencing.

That’s a big ask. Their central control room is dealing with mayhem near the airport. Add to that the temperamental nature of Hill Street, the festive season will be no holiday for their staff.

SMILE AND WAVE It doesn’t take much to cause congestion at Hill Street. Each of the intersection’s eight points has different flow patterns with many random peaks. A touch footy event here, a rodeo there, a winery concert somewhere, and a crash at Dome Valley over there. It doesn’t take much for the traffic light sequence to be out of sync.

Next time you’re waiting at the lights, wave at the CCTV atop the post on the traffic island at the corner of Sandspit Road and Great North Road. It’s affectionately called “Mike Post.” He’s trying his best in difficult circumstances.

(Mike Post was the composer of Hill Street Blues. See, it took thirteen issues of The Gauntlet to mention that song but we squeezed it in before the end of year.)

IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET We have done the hard yards. We’ve raised awareness, gone out and asked people for signatures for our petition. Some locals are sick of being asked repeatedly whether they would sign a petition that they’ve already signed. In other words, we’ve reached saturation. We need another approach.

Many businesses have filled their petition booklets and are now onto their second one. Businesses are our frontline so we can’t stress how important it is to get anyone of any age or nationality to sign the petition.

One elderly gentleman bluntly told us, “I’m not signing your petition because I am sick of that intersection! It’s never gonna change!” We say, if you don’t sign our petition, then don’t complain.

Ideally, we shouldn’t have to ask for signatures nor should we ask politicians to fix such an obviously outdated intersection. But, unfortunately, even small and seemingly mundane infrastructure projects require campaigns. Co-ordinated action is a necessity.

Our petition will run until February. We’ve got a good start but, ideally, we need 20,000+ signatures. Considering the populations of Warkworth (4,650), Snells Beach (4,800), the hinterland east of Warkworth (3,800), and summer traffic, we think that we can attain that level of support.

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 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.

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