Congestion on Sandspit Road decreased in the morning, but increased during the evening peak.
New plans to reduce congestion at Warkworth’s Hill Street intersection are underway at Auckland Transport (AT).
Options include a partial closure of Elizabeth Street during peak morning traffic, metering traffic signals at the Matakana and Sandspit Road intersection, lane changes, integration with Kowhai Park and more monitoring of queues and traffic lights.
AT is expected to bring interim improvement proposals to the Rodney Local Board and community groups in the next few months.
It follows the controversial trial closure of Elizabeth Street to traffic from Hill Street and State Highway 1 last November, which reduced turning options into the intersection from seven to three.
The trial ended after one month instead of three, following complaints from Warkworth businesses about reduced customers and extra traffic in Mill Lane and Whitaker Road.
AT says it collected enough data to continue investigations. The results were presented to the Warkworth Area Liaison Group on March 1.
Traffic engineering manager Melanie Alexander told the forum there was more traffic flow and less congestion for traffic on Matakana and Sandspit Roads in the morning during the trial.
“There was a significant reduction in congestion, with more vehicles coming through more smoothly from Sandspit Road in the morning peak,” she said.
“However, we were surprised that there was more congestion in the afternoon.”
Based on the results, AT was considering a partial closure of Elizabeth Street in the morning peak only.
One Warkworth Business Association chair Chris Murphy says members will consider the options and want to be consulted before any decision this time.
“It’s extremely important Warkworth retains the northern and southern point of entry,” Chris says.
The trial showed an average 40 per cent drop in traffic flow into Warkworth from SH1 southbound traffic. Traffic was redirected to Whitaker Road, which had an average 60 per cent increase in daily traffic volumes.
Snells Beach Ratepayers and Residents Association chair Mark Dinniss says the reduced traffic made it quicker and safer to get through the intersection.
“Everybody I’ve talked to east of Warkworth felt it was quite an improvement,” Mark says.
He says Sandspit Road can at times be backed up for one kilometre with 20 minute waits.
Fix Hill Street Now member Grant McLachlan, a Snells Beach resident, says any solution could not benefit one group at the expense of another.
“We need an outcome that doesn’t divide the community, but increases the capacity of the intersection. Otherwise it is just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic when they need to build a stronger boat.”
AT says timeframes and costs will be confirmed after the feasibility and investigation process. The work will be carried out under the minor improvements programme, with a funding cap of $300,000.