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The Gauntlet: Issue #21



Newsletter #21 - 9 February 2017


There’s a lot of movement today after Monday came to a grinding halt.

GRIDLOCK

We’ve been asking around to determine whether Waitangi Day’s 13-hour traffic jam at the Hill Street intersection was the worst ever. The queues started to build just before 10am and lasted until 11pm.


Let’s remember that there weren’t any accidents, poor weather, or any other factors causing the gridlock. The 60-100-minute waiting times were purely the double bottleneck of Sandspit Road and Matakana Road squeezing through a State Highway 1 intersection. State Highway 1 queues stretched north through Dome Valley, along Matakana Road as far as Sharp Road, and along Sandspit Road to Hamilton Road.


After 6pm, Warkworth was the only place in the country with gridlock. The radio stations picked up on this. When weather throughout the country was clear and there were no accidents, Warkworth stood out like a sore thumb.


Let’s think for a second what the traffic would be like with the motorway and Matakana Link built. Think of all that Sandspit Road traffic turning right at the traffic lights towards the motorway. What is it like now for anyone turning right at the traffic lights even at off peak times? Yup, that one lane at the Elizabeth Street/Sandspit Road intersection doesn’t help, does it? Nor does the 10-15 second green light every 120 seconds.


Once through the Hill Street intersection, that Sandspit traffic wanting to get on the motorway must then go through the Hudson Road and Matakana Link traffic lights before negotiating the motorway junction roundabout. How is this “improved journey times” for Sandspit Road traffic?


DEADLOCK

There was a meeting/presentation held by Auckland Transport with the Rodney Local Board in Orewa on Thursday. The point of the meeting was to brief members about the results of the Elizabeth Street trial before they were released to the Warkworth Area Liaison Group next month.


We already knew the results of the Elizabeth Street trial. We collected better quantitative and qualitative data than Auckland Transport. In fact, we requested that a member of the local board ask certain questions. As expected, Auckland Transport couldn’t answer them and will endeavour to answer them for the WALG meeting.


A lot has changed since the Elizabeth Street trial. Auckland Transport are taking the issue of building capacity at the Hill Street intersection more seriously. As the trial was inconclusive and divisive, we just want everyone to move on and look at long term solutions.

UNLOCK

We’ve discovered a Little Red Hen in another department of the council. The Community Facilities Operations Division – in their planning for the Kowhai Park upgrade – have done all the work that the NZTA and Auckland Transport were too chicken to do. They not only used their ecologists and arbourists to assess the waterways and native trees in Kowhai Park but also got their assessments independently peer reviewed. For the works proposed to upgrade Kowhai Park, they prepared detailed resource consents and received detailed decisions.


Let’s remember that the Kowhai Park upgrade was all designed with the expectation that the intersection will one day be upgraded too. The budget to pay for it came from the depreciation account accumulated over 12 years that the park has been overdue for an overhaul.


We take our hats off to the team for taking the initiative. They were sick of waiting for the NZTA and Auckland Transport to fix Hill Street. Unlike Little Red Hen, I am sure that the team will share what they have gained from their project.


Work starts next month and will be finished within a few months. So, the whole project will be designed, planned, tendered, and completed within nine months at a cost of $570,000.

BENCHMARK

Over at Waimauku, the SH16/Muriwai Road roundabout will take over a year to build and cost $6m. To minimise the impact of traffic flows on the tight site, the works will be completed in stages. Check out the staging diagrams here: http://bit.ly/2kNtIs8.


The site is much tighter than the Hill Street intersection. Here is the plan:


Here is the Waimauku roundabout overlaid on the Hill Street intersection: