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The Gauntlet: Issue #53



Newsletter #53 - 6 November 2017


Since our last issue, a lot has happened, but nothing has progressed. Considering that the election campaign and the formation of the government consumed much of the media attention, we reckon we did pretty well to maintain media presence. Thank you to TVNZ who ran articles on Seven Sharp (http://bit.ly/2heEWbA) and their Labour Weekend bulletin.


NOTEWORTHY?

We’ve been wondering what we could include in our next issue. We get to Wednesday each week and wonder what is worthy of note.


Yup, Kowhai Park is open.


Yup, the Sandspit Road pedestrian crossing is being relocated to the traffic lights.


Yup, they could have done it at the same time as the Kowhai Park upgrade.


Yup, Auckland Transport are proposing a railway-type barrier across Elizabeth Street.


Yup, we still don’t know who’s been chosen to investigate and design the major upgrade of the intersection.


All the aforementioned was meant to known by September.


To have your say on the proposed tweaks, visit here: http://bit.ly/2yxGtRL.


NEWSWORTHY

Leading up to the election, we felt pretty chuffed with our achievements. National said that they would fix Hill Street within 18 months, NZ First made fixing Hill Street an election pledge, and Labour said that fixing Hill Street was a ‘no-brainer.’ Now that there’s been a change of government, when can we expect progress?


One would think that a Labour Mayor and a Labour-led government would speed things up, especially considering NZ First made Hill Street such a priority. The Greens haven’t really delved into Warkworth issues.


When a coalition agreement is bland on detail, often feelers are sent out to either soften expectations or test the water. Only days after the announcement of a change of government, a NZ Herald article comprehensively covered The Spinoff’s Simon Wilson’s take on Auckland transport issues (http://bit.ly/2y5Nd4M). Of note is this gem:


Take Warkworth, where state highway one and the access roads to it are absurdly inefficient, congested and dangerous. The government has allowed this situation to remain for years, which has helped build the case for an entire new highway from Puhoi, past Warkworth and on to Wellsford.


Will the new government continue to tolerate that approach, or will it insist that problem spots like the Warkworth intersections be fixed much more quickly and cheaply, without having to become part of massive new highway projects?


The Spinoff and Greater Auckland have Labour’s ear and it shows.


The new transport minister is Labour’s Phil Twyford, supported by associate ministers Shane Jones and Julie Anne Genter.


Phil Twyford’s focus so far has been integrating his Housing and Urban Development with his Transport portfolios to create synergies. He has also indicated shelving big roading projects, such as the East-West Link, to fund many smaller projects. New MP Marja Lubeck will be pressuring him to deliver on easier fixes, such as Hill Street, followed by turning soil on Penlink.


Julie Anne Genter has also asked questions about the feasibility of the second stage of the Puhoi-Wellsford Northern Motorway bypassing the Dome Valley (http://bit.ly/2zgvQjl.) Her expertise has been focused on delivering bang-for-your-buck, which Hill Street certainly can deliver.


Shane Jones will want a motorway and rail all the way to Northport. Warkworth and Matakana-based NZ First MPs Tracey Martin and Jenny Marcroft will want urgency to fix Warkworth’s congested intersections.


The problem is, NZTA surrendered the Hill Street intersection and the Matakana Link over to Auckland Transport. Local developers have been dealing with Auckland Transport, expecting them to wriggle money from NZTA.


Will this government be more hands on, taking the lead rather than delegate to Auckland Transport?


Labour will be aware that National’s Opposition strategy will be to destroy NZ First and the Greens to regain power. The support parties will want to claim credit for quick and easy wins. Hill Street ticks all the boxes.


MAKING HAY

Auckland Transport are short-funded and, even when they are given money, they take their time to waste it. So when developers are eager to make hay while the sun shines, they might as well accept that their best laid plans are going to rot.