Well, I suppose if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. We are wondering who the people behind the Matakana Link were trying to please in the first place.
In this week’s issue, we ponder what could be done to the Matakana Link and motorway junction.
Episode 2 of the TV series “Gutsful” airs tonight at 8:30pm on TV2. Episode 1 – about freedom camping in Warea – was entertaining. Gutsful is streamed on demand here: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/gutsful.
We feature in episode 4 on June 8 and we will be holding a screening party at The Bridgehouse.
No, the work to fix Hill Street hasn’t started yet. Kowhai Park is being overhauled. It will be interesting to see whether it causes disruption. To view the plans, find them here: http://bit.ly/2k19utE.
Here are the four options being considered, after being narrowed down from ten initial alignments:
It is fascinating to see who came out of the woodwork to oppose the Matakana Link. Check out the Mahurangi Matters article here: http://bit.ly/2pYiaDk.
The alignment of Option C through a sliver of QEII polarised the family who vested the bush. The realignment of Option C could avoid that QEII bush but potentially a larger area of non-QEII bush to the north could be destroyed.
The decision to locate the intersection with Great North Road next to Timberworld instead of aligned with the motorway received the loudest criticism, including this letter to the editor: http://bit.ly/2pYpjTW. Auckland Transport’s reply is “That wasn’t our decision”, even though the NZTA are funding the Matakana Link.
So, what is the Matakana Link meant to achieve? More importantly, what is the terminus of the motorway meant to achieve?
We’re told that the motorway will improve journey times. Those in and around Warkworth won’t benefit when the closest access is to the north. The NZTA is now investigating a motorway connection to the south of Warkworth’s future urban boundary.
We’re told that the Matakana Link will “ease pressure” on the Hill Street Intersection and provide a “more direct link” for Matakana Road traffic. Compare Matakana Road with what is proposed for Matakana Link.
Matakana Road is a gauntlet of lifestyle blocks and roadside stalls. A concert, market, or gala can clog up the road for hours. When the speed limit was lowered to 80km/h, planners allowed intensive ribbon development.
Matakana Link will be no different. A potential school, public facilities and intense development will keep the speed limit to 50km/h (or 20km/h when school buses are around.)
In other words, travel to Matakana will continue to be a series of queues. Conversely, Sandspit Link to Sandspit Road could be 100km/h along its entire route.
So, what will the aligning of the Matakana Link to the motorway achieve? Remember, in 8-10 years the Warkworth to Te Hana motorway will be built, changing traffic patterns at the roundabout.
It isn’t as easy as connecting another road to the motorway junction’s roundabout. For a direct motorway-Matakana Link via a four-point roundabout without a Sandspit Link, most traffic will be between the motorway and the Hill Street intersection. Right-turning traffic from the motorway will hold up traffic from Matakana, much like the currently proposed traffic lights.
With a direct motorway-Matakana Link heading through a light industrial zone, which will most likely resemble a strip mall of big block stores and warehouses, it will hardly be a “gateway” to the “Matakana Country” brand.
While politicians pitched the Matakana Link to provide a direct link from the motorway, planners incorporated it as part of the rim of a hub-and-spoke ring road to fix an existing problem. The motorway and future development, however, stymies both those objectives.
The way the funding has been determined, the design standard for the corridor, and the piecemeal “big picture” has culminated in an over-priced project expected to do too much but doomed to fail all its objectives.
HILL STREET v2.0?
One author of a letter to the editor suggested that the current proposed layout will lead to “Hill Street Version 2.” On the other hand, wouldn’t what he suggests lead to that?
We wondered what it would take for the Matakana Link to achieve all its objectives and avoid potential opposition. We came up with a couple of diagrams.
Effectively, the motorway could link directly to the Matakana-Sandspit Link with a star-shaped roundabout below servicing the ring road. The currently planned motorway roundabout would need to be 300 metres south east. The Matakana Link would align through the centre of the corridor of properties between Great North Road and Matakana Road, improving the use of land.
Such a design doesn’t work by itself. Sandspit Link needs to be built at the same time as the Matakana Link. Otherwise, the predominance of right-turning traffic towards Warkworth would conflict with right-turning traffic towards the motorway until the Warkworth to Te Hana motorway is built.
A clover-shaped interchange would look like this, meaning that the Western Collector would maintain its currently proposed alignment, bordering the Pak ’n Save, Harvey Norman, and Bunnings’ site.
Also, once the Warkworth to Te Hana motorway is built, the motorway-Matakana Link interchange would need to be the only motorway connection to the north of Warkworth for northbound and southbound traffic. Something like this would suffice.
The orange road is Woodcocks Road, the blue and purple is the NZTA’s proposed motorway alignments, the white is the NZTA’s realigned Carran and Wylie Roads, and the bright pink is our suggested northbound connections. A combined interchange like the above example would also save the cost of rebuilding Kaipara Flats Road and building a separate interchange there. The savings could be reallocated towards our suggested star-shaped interchange and Sandspit Link.
The overall look could be like this.
The irony is that the Puhoi to Wellsford project is meant to be future-focussed but the decision making hasn’t been able to keep up with growth. Here’s hoping that Auckland Transport and NZTA can be more dynamic rather than be bogged down with local opposition.
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