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Hill Street petitioners ignored (updated)

Fix Hill Street Now organiser Grant McLachlan (left) is pictured handing over the petition to Rodney MP Mark Mitchell.

(UPDATE 13/04/17) Following the lead story in Mahurangi Matters on April 12 (below) the NZ Transport Agency released the following media release on April 13.

Planning for future of Hill Street intersection brought forward

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport have brought forward planning for the future of the Hill Street intersection in Warkworth. Up to $2million has been set aside to investigate and design changes to the intersection. The Transport Agency is working closely with Auckland Transport to work through designs that have been developed by both Auckland Transport and the Warkworth community. These designs will form the list of options which will be considered by the project team. “When the new motorway is finished in 2021, along with other upgrades such as the Matakana Link Road and Western Collector, much of the current traffic will be able to bypass Warkworth, easing a significant amount of the existing pressure on Hill Street,” says Ernst Zollner the Transport Agency’s Auckland Relationship Director. The Transport Agency says it’s continuing to work with Auckland Transport to investigate and deliver short term solutions to improve the capacity and efficiency of the intersection during peak periods. Auckland Transport’s Delivery Manager, North and West, David Nelson says “With the funding for this project we can do a full investigation for re-designing the intersection. We’ll also look at any land acquisition and regulatory requirements needed before we can physically start the work.”

Mahurangi Matters, April 12

Calls for an urgent solution to the congested Hill Street intersection in Warkworth have fallen on deaf ears. The action group Fix Hill Street Now last week presented Rodney MP Mark Mitchell with a petition carrying more than 7320 signatures, backed up by a further 1772 online signatures. The petition, which called on the Government to prioritise the design, funding and works to address safety and congestion at Hill Street, was tabled in Parliament on April 5. But on the following day, the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport issued a joint statement restating that Hill Street would not be upgraded until after alternative routes to State Highway 1 were completed. The only commitment the authorities gave was to “look at design options and investigate the future form of the intersection”, a position they have maintained since the motorway was first announced. AT delivery manager David Nelson says any significant changes to the intersection won’t happen until other significant roading projects in the area are completed over the coming years, including the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway. “The work will examine designs that have been developed by AT, as well as those submitted by the community, and will take into account the changes in traffic flows that will result from the completion of the Matakana link road and the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway in 2021,” Mr Nelson says. However, at last week’s Warkworth Liaison Group meeting, Mr Nelson added that an agreed approach to fixing Hill Street was close to being finalised and NZTA would fund 53 per cent of the project. Fix Hill Street Now organiser Grant McLachlan says a lot of people are confused by the media release. “It certainly isn’t what was agreed to at a recent meeting organised by Mark Mitchell, where we were told that a dedicated project manager had been appointed and funding was being secured,” Mr McLachlan says. One Warkworth Business Association deputy chair Mark Macky says One Warkworth is not convinced a solution can’t be found, and potentially addressed, before the Matakana link road. “And I’m not sure the community can wait another five years for a solution,” he says. “Warkworth needs a vibrant business community to help enable more people to work locally and encourage more growth. Fixing Hill Street is absolutely essential to get our community moving.” NZTA regional director for Auckland and Northland Ernst Zollner says that the new motorway will improve transport choices in the region and is expected to remove many of the current traffic frustrations. “The completion of the Puhoi to Warkworth project will provide an alternative route bypassing Warkworth, easing a significant proportion of the existing pressures on the Hill Street intersection,” he says. “These investigations are a step towards ensuring that if any further improvements are required at Hill Street after 2021, we are in the best position to be able to get them underway.” Meanwhile, AT says a preferred option for the Matakana link road will be confirmed in August. The new road will also align with Warkworth’s Western Collector route, a three-stage plan to improve connections to the west of the state highway. Stage One of the Western Collector, connecting Mansel Drive to Falls Road, opened in March. The exact route of the remaining two stages has yet to be determined, but will connect to SH1 in the vicinity of McKinney Road in the south and in the vicinity of the Hudson Road intersection in the north.

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