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Fix Hill Street Now action group heads to Parliament

The Fix Hill Street Now Action Group get more than 9000 petitions signed.

In support of more than 9000 people who want to see Warkworth's State Highway 1 Hill Street intersection redeveloped, the Fix Hill Street Now team presented to Parliament.

On July 27, the team spoke to the Transport and Industrial Relations Selection Committee about the issues at the intersection north of Auckland.

On behalf of thousands of people who signed the petitions, the group presented in the hope that Parliament will fund the investigation, design, and construction of a major upgrade before congestion and safety problems deteriorate further.

Fix Hill Street Now member Grant McLachlan said the presentation revealed "damning" evidence that the New Zealand Transport Agency neglected the intersection in order to reinforce the case for the Puhoi-Warkworth Motorway.

The team said in the same week the petition was tabled in Parliament, NZTA gave $2 million to Auckland Transport to investigate and redesign the intersection but wouldn't allow the works to commence until 2021.

"That throws the Hill Street intersection onto the same heap as Penlink. NZTA have wiped their hands of Hill Street and handed it over to a debt-ridden council unable to fund Penlink nor Hill Street.

"All the benefits to justify the cost of fixing Hill Street have been stolen by the NZTA to justify other pet projects," McLachlan said.

According to the reports released by NZTA and AT under the Official Information Act, the business cases for the Puhoi-Warkworth Motorway and Matakana Link relied on a deterioration of congestion at the intersection, the Fix Hill Street Now presentation said.

McLachlan said the responses to Parliamentary questions from Winston Peters exposed that NZTA's statements about the Motorway and Matakana Link were not accurate, and that, instead of traffic reducing after the Motorway and Matakana Link were complete, they predict that it will increase.

"It's not rocket science that having a motorway connection at the northern end of a town growing fivefold will increase local traffic heading north from the intersection."

According to the responses, the $709m motorway will bypass less than 15 per cent of the traffic that would otherwise use the intersection and the $42m Matakana Link will only divert 4 per cent, McLachlan said.

"In the meantime, total traffic at the intersection will increase from a current daily average of 35,900 vehicles to 42,350 by 2026. AT research shows that the intersection is currently operating at capacity most of the time."

The group said the Minister's response incorrectly exaggerates the benefit to cost ratio by a factor of four, showing the benefits are only $21m.

"$21 million is more than enough to fix Hill Street. Why spend $42m diverting 4 per cent of the traffic when $21m will fix 100 per cent of the problem?," McLachlan said

- Rodney Times

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