Newsletter #22 - 16 February 2017
The past week has produced some interesting meetings between elected officials and non-elected officials. Non-elected officials have released their visions while elected officials are kept in the dark.
While Hill Street traffic wasn’t going anywhere, the New Zealand Transport Agency released the “Indicative Route” and “Shortlisted Routes” for the Warkworth to Wellsford stage of their Road of National Significance.
The Indicative Route has significant differences to previously publicised potential routes, which has gobsmacked a few families relocated from Wylie Road to Kaipara Flats Road by the Puhoi-Warkworth stage. We sympathise with those families as a potential designation process followed by the Public Works Act compulsory acquisition process is not pleasant, especially when going through the processes again.
The announcement is a clear indication that the NZTA wants to move on from dealing with Warkworth. There is no longer any mention of the Hill Street intersection on the NZTA’s “SH1 Warkworth intersection improvements” website (http://bit.ly/29ggH6e, compare with http://bit.ly/2lQWmJ5) and we expect the NZTA to treat Wellsford traffic issues similarly to how they treated Warkworth’s.
There are many similarities between the Puhoi-Warkworth section and the Warkworth-Wellsford section. Both have a southern motorway terminus, avoid a dangerous stretch of open road, traverses difficult terrain, and bypasses a service town with troublesome and congested intersections. The difference is that many more experts are now taking notice.
We expect that the NZTA will be revising their projections and collecting better data. We expect that many of the issues relating to Warkworth will be revisited, especially in relation to the effect that the Road of National Significance has on traffic at the Hill Street intersection.
Waimauku School is on the corner of State Highway 16 intersection with Muriwai and Waimauku Station Roads. Central to the successful local campaign to get the dangerous intersection upgraded to a roundabout was the support of the school community.
Warkworth School is adjacent to the Hill Street intersection. Convoys of school buses use the Hill Street intersection to transport pupils to and from Mahurangi College, Matakana School, Horizon School, and Snells Beach School.
Anyone of any age or nationality can sign a Parliamentary petition. Our teams will be out in force over the next week to collect signatures outside schools. It is important that we collect as many signatures as possible. As they say, if you didn’t sign the petition, then don’t complain about the intersection.
A reader told us a story about a school visit to the Auckland City Council during the 1960s. Long-standing Auckland City Mayor and Auckland Regional Authority Chair Dove-Myer Robinson invited the group into his office. Laid across his desk was a plan for Auckland’s motorway and mass transit network. Mayor Robbie said, “There is one thing that will prevent this from being completed.” He then lent over and whispered to the children, “Vested interests.” The teacher was shocked.
DO YOUR JOB
As citizens, we elect representatives at local board, council, mayor, district health board, and electorate level. We also have a list party vote. Politicians appoint officials to implement policy. Strangely, the only people who have told us that fixing Hill Street is not a priority are non-elected officials.
This got us thinking. If every elected official we’ve approached supports our campaign, why are non-elected officials so obstructive? Are the officials ignoring politicians? Have the politicians not followed through on their support? Is the process the problem?
We asked around. Several politicians have asked senior officials what the best process is. The officials have not been able to provide a straight answer.
We say, if a Transport Minister can announce the upgrading of several one-lane bridges in Northland during a by-election and fast-track the upgrade of the State Highway 16 intersection with Muriwai Road in Waimauku, then instructing his officials to fast-track fixing New Zealand’s worst intersection in Warkworth is a realistically achievable goal.
We have received many offers of support from experienced experts from throughout the world. The Hill Street intersection offers an interesting and unique challenge to many transport engineers.
The most capable engineer makes the most of available resources. An engineer’s success is not rated by the size of their budget or how many subordinates they manage. Respect is earned by the challenges overcome. Take, for example, the Bridge Building Competition at the University of Canterbury School of Engineering, where the challenge is to design a structure that can sustain two people but fails with three people on it. (http://bit.ly/2lSrrv8)
We have developed several design options to promote discussion. We would prefer if Auckland Transport and NZTA come up with a range of solutions to fix Hill Street. They seem reluctant. Instead, many of the engineers who worked on previously proposed upgrades have approached us after being ignored.