The latest plan for Hill Street is “The Pill”.
By George Driver
Auckland Transport (AT) has agreed to review designs for major improvements to the Hill Street intersection, but it could still be a decade before any work starts.
The limited commitment comes after a meeting at Rodney MP Mark Mitchell’s office, which included representatives from NZTA, AT, the Rodney Local Board, Warkworth Area Liaison Group, Warkworth Area Business Association and Matakana Coast Tourism.
In a joint statement from AT and NZTA, the agencies say the work is occurring ahead of the road being transferred to AT when the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway opens.
“In anticipation of this, AT has agreed to collate and review current and previous design solutions for the Hill Street intersection.”
But no commitment has been made regarding construction or funding of any future upgrade, the statement says.
However, local representatives insist work must start earlier.
Retired transport engineer Roger Williams says traffic studies show the new motorway won’t reduce traffic at Hill Street, as the majority of the vehicles are local traffic, moving within Mahurangi, and won’t use the motorway.
But he is encouraged by the response from AT and NZTA.
“This is the first positive response we have got,” Mr Williams says. “Up until now AT didn’t want to know anything about the intersection – they would sit with their mouths shut during meetings.”
A group of determined Mahurangi residents has been working on a range of plans to improve traffic flows at the intersection and is planning a petition calling for work to start at Hill Street, which it will take to Parliament.
Mr Williams and planner Grant McLachlan have been using the computer programme which NZTA uses to model traffic levels, and other software which enable desktop tests of different road layouts.
One of the leading designs is “The Pill” (pictured), which includes an oval-shaped, double-lane roundabout, which is one of the options AT is considering.
But AT and NZTA say they still believe constructing an alternative road layout will only be possible once the new motorway has been built.
“A variety of solutions have been investigated, however the challenges lie in how it would be implemented and constructed,” the agencies say. “Consents, approvals and then construction on even a simple design would take time to complete and would cause a considerable amount of disruption to the both traffic and the surrounding community.
“Ultimately the best solution to the current difficulties in Warkworth is to reduce the amount of traffic through the town centre by building the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway, allowing state highway traffic to bypass Warkworth.”
But, Mr Williams says a large portion of the construction could take place off SH1. The level of construction traffic for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway will also put extra pressure on Hill Street, he says.
NZTA is expected to announce the preferred consortium for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway construction this month. This should provide more information on where materials for the construction will come from and how they will impact traffic in Mahurangi.
The contract will be finalised by October with construction starting towards the end of the year.