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The Gauntlet: Issue #14

Newsletter #14 - 22 December 2016

It’s the silly season, what can you say? Two of our billboards were stolen, two road works caused gridlock, two accidents stretched emergency services, and delays at other times are twice as long.

We thought of a 12 Days of Christmas jingle but More FM eclipsed our efforts by mentioning our petition in their Christmas song, “Rodney Wonderland”: Spread the love.

LIKE SANDS IN THE HOUR GLASS... The NZTA has identified State Highway 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford as a holiday “hotspot” between 23 December and 4 January ( They will be warning motorists to “allow more time” and “expect delays.”

(To view the above image in more detail, please right click on it, save as image, and then open it in a viewer.)

We tried to cross-reference the orange and red periods with the Hill Street intersection. These flows only consider traffic between SH1 Johnston Hill Tunnels and the SH1/SH16 junction at Wellsford. Those two bottlenecks may not give a true indication of the amount of traffic trying to get through as they act like either end of an hour-glass with the road between only allowing what can get through.

(Traffic in and out of Sandspit and Matakana Roads face a similar hour-glass problem.)

The Johnston Hill tunnel effectively drip-feeds traffic towards Warkworth. Think about the number of steep and windy sections, short passing lanes, variety of traffic on the single carriageway, and queues that form behind slower vehicles all converging on Warkworth. The Woodcocks and Whitaker Road traffic lights then sends 20 second green light bursts of traffic towards the Hill Street intersection.

Now imagine that drip-feeding replaced by a motorway that terminates 1750 metres north of the Hill Street intersection, literally turning up on the doorstep. The trickle becomes a torrent.

Effectively, the only means to steady the flow between the Tollway terminus and Hill Street is the Matakana Link intersection and the Hudson Road traffic lights. In other words, one large motorway terminus roundabout and two new sets of traffic lights will do what the Woodcocks and Whitaker Road traffic lights currently do.

Can you see the problem? Queues from the Hill Street intersection often stretch to Hudson Road, which is a one kilometre distance. The Matakana Link intersection is 250 metres from the Hudson Road intersection and the Tollway junction is a further 500 metres beyond. Effectively, the queues will stretch beyond each intersection, causing gridlock.

But wait, there’s more. Just look at the design of the Matakana Link intersection. If the NZTA claims that the Matakana Link will divert so much traffic away from the Hill Street intersection, then why are there two through lanes and only a 50-metre-long left-turning slipway? Imagine the queues at the traffic lights holding up traffic wanting to turn left.

Then imagine the existing 50-metre-long SH1 southbound left-turning slip lane into Sandspit Road. The NZTA say that they won’t touch the Hill Street intersection until the Tollway and Matakana Link is finished.

(To view the above image in more detail, please right click, save, and then open in a viewer)

...SO ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES We compared the chart that NZTA produced with other peak times over the past few years and something stood out. We knew that what was once a holiday problem now occurs several times a day but we didn’t realise how steep the traffic growth was.

Over the festive season while you are waiting in traffic, take this into account. The crazy length of queues you will experience over the next fortnight will be the new normal for weekdays before the Tollway and Matakana Link is completed. Imagine planning daily commutes with that in mind.

SOMETHING TO PONDER The location of the Matakana Link Road seems an odd place to put a road. Considering it will border the A&P showgrounds and sportsgrounds, wouldn’t it be better suited for a school site? The link road could be sited 100 metres to the north bordering the suggested school site. Otherwise, the school could be located behind the showgrounds on the link road.

Below are three graphics showing what the Tollway junction will be like. The first one is evidence presented at the Board of Inquiry for the resource consent application showing projected traffic levels with and without the Tollway. The second shows the turn percentages. The third shows the proposed design of the junction.

The first diagram is a bit technical but is worth taking the time to figure out what it means. The left column on each table means Evening Peak hour traffic (“PM”), an average hour between 09.30 and 16.30 (Inter Peak - “IP”), Holiday Start (“HS”), and Holiday End (“HE”). “NB” and “SB” stand for northbound and southbound.

Besides the obvious typo of only 5700 vehicles using the Tollway (13700 vehicles use the Tollway at Moir Hill), can you see anything else odd about the design of the roundabout? Where do you reckon the worst queuing will be?

(To view the images below in more detail, please right click, save, and then open in a viewer.)

SURVIVAL TIPS There are some crazy things going on. There are road works on major arterials at peak times. People also trying to beat the rush are finding that others are doing the same. There are also a lot of new people to the area.

Here is a link so you can see what traffic is like at the Hill Street intersection so you can plan your journey:

As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus said in every episode of Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.” ( From our team, we hope that you have a happy and safe holiday.

THANK YOU Thank you for your support this year. We've sown the seed. Next year will hopefully bear fruit.

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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