Long-awaited plans for a Matakana Link Road to bypass the Hill Street intersection bottleneck between State Highway 1 north of Warkworth and eastern communities have been revealed by Auckland Transport (AT).
A shortlist of four link routes is open for public consultation, including an open day in Warkworth on Saturday May 6, with construction on the final design due to start next year, and the aim of opening before the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway in 2021.
The 1.6 km four-lane road will create an alternative route between west and east Warkworth from SH1 to Matakana Road. It will start south of the new motorway intersection, just north of the Warkworth Showgrounds, and exit on Matakana Road near Clayden Road.
Four options have been whittled down from 10, and public consultation is open until May 20. The road will cross farmland that has been zoned future urban and light industrial, and include two turn-offs into future developments. AT says the location is designed to align with the future road corridor and Western Collector roads project west of Warkworth.
Two of the link road options exit on Matakana Road right through a family home and fourth generation farm. Landowners Alastair Membery and Deborah Steel say they are resigned to the fact that change is coming to Warkworth and that infrastructure needs to be put in place to cope with the expected growth. “Unfortunately for us, this comes at a high personal cost to our family,” they say.
Another option would encroach on the Showgrounds northern edge and may require a retaining wall for one of the sportsfields. Mahurangi Community Sports and Recreation Collective chairperson Mark Illingworth says they have no objections, providing the final option does not interfere with the Showgrounds, since maintaining sports and recreation facilities is important for future growth and community health.
Greg Stevenson’s family trust owns 38 hectares of land surrounding the Showgrounds, with half of the proposed road on their land. They have been involved in link proposals for more than a decade. Greg says there are obvious ancillary benefits, but they also want to contribute to the community and take pressure off the Hill Street intersection.
He is pleased it is proceeding but “mortified” at how long it has taken, and says it is important to start planning the proposed extension to Sandspit Road as soon as possible now.
Fix Hill Street Now organiser Grant McLachlan agrees. He says the Matakana link will provide only limited relief and the extension to Sandspit Road is essential. He questions the road’s ‘gold-plated’ design, with separated cycle and walkways, and says that money could be used for the Sandspit extension to avoid pushing the congestion problem further up the road.
In a report to the Rodney Local Board in late 2016, AT said the Matakana link would cost between $25.5 million and $39.5 million. Acquiring property was expected to cost $10 million, requiring 12ha of land, affecting seven landowners and nine properties. Last year NZTA agreed to provide early funding for construction if AT funds were not available.
AT Delivery Manager North-West David Nelson says the Transport for Future Urban Growth plan consultation showed support for the link. He says the transport network is needed to address existing and future travel needs, as Warkworth is set to become a major satellite town of more than 20,000 people.
All four options will be on display at the open day, attended by technical experts, for feedback to identify a preferred option to be taken forward for consent.
Info: Open day, Saturday May 6, 10am to 2pm, Mahurangi Rugby Club, Warkworth Showgrounds.