Auckland Transport (AT) is asking for public feedback on its latest fix for Hill Street in Warkworth.
AT is proposing to install a time-controlled barrier, similar to those used at railway crossings, to control access to Elizabeth Street during the morning peak.
Entry would be closed automatically using the barrier arm, between the hours of 7am to 9am, on weekdays only.
This will direct traffic heading into Warkworth from the north, Hill Street and Kowhai Park along State Highway 1 to Whitaker Road. Morning traffic coming in from Matakana and Sandspit Roads would not be affected.
An AT spokesperson says the design of the barrier won’t be finalised until feedback from the community is received.
However, One Warkworth Business Association transport spokesperson Dave Stott says opening and closing Elizabeth Street at different times of the day is a recipe for confusion, for both visitors and locals.
“If people go to turn into Elizabeth Street when the barrier is down there is real potential for accidents,” Dave says. “During the trial last year, when the road cones were in place, there were numerous incidences of vehicles going to turn into the street then heading up the hill and doing a u-turn near Millstream Place. It was a very dangerous situation.
“There is also potential to create more congestion at the SH1/Whitaker Road intersection.”
One Warkworth believes that a safer option would be to put lights at the end of Elizabeth Street. Dave says AT is concerned that this would add to the wait time for vehicles.
“We think it is probably only a matter of an extra 15 to 20 seconds, but it would make a huge difference to safety at the intersection.”
As part of the intersection improvements, AT is also proposing to install a traffic signal on the slip lane off SH1 and new pedestrian crossings. Physical works are expected to start in the first quarter of next year.
One Warkworth is urging businesses and residents to give AT feedback as soon as possible, as no closing date for consultation has been set. AT says the feedback form will remain open even after the crossings and barrier arm has been installed.
“We want to hear from people right through the process,” a spokesperson says. “Once it has been constructed we want to hear from drivers and pedestrians about how it has improved the road and whether there are any changes we could make to help it function even better.”
AT curtailed a trial closure of Elizabeth Street late last year after protests from business owners.
However, AT says an assessment of the trial before it was abandoned indicated that the measures introduced were successful at improving traffic flow and reducing congestion, particularly in
the morning peak.
A separate investigation into a permanent solution for the Hill Street intersection is also underway. AT says the work is expected to be carried out once the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway is open to traffic in 2021, which will provide a detour route to minimise construction disruption.