By George Driver
Frustration with Mahurangi’s traffic woes came to a head this month during consultation on a draft transport plan for the area.
NZTA, Auckland Transport (AT) and Auckland Council have been consulting on a transport network to service the growth predicted in the region over the next 30 years.
After a summer where traffic has been a recurring headache, people were fired up at the consultation events held in Mahurangi. They came out in droves to a consultation day at the Old Masonic Hall in Warkworth on April 30, and an invite-only breakfast with Mahurangi business owners at the Warkworth RSA on May 6.
But the draft proposal has left them wanting. The plan mostly rests on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, expected to start this summer and be completed by 2022. Additional roads linking SH1 to Matakana Road, known as the Matakana Link Road, and a further link to Sandspit Road have been pencilled in, along with the Western Collector route, which would create a road through the west of Warkworth, but no funding or time-frame for these projects has been announced.
The big omission from the consultation material – the two words that have become something of a mantra recited at just about every public meeting in Rodney – was “Hill Street”.
“The elephant in the room is the bloody intersection,” as one articulate local told transport planners at the RSA.
“What’s the point of these meetings?,” Warkworth Area Business Association representative Nicola Jones said. “We keep telling you what we want and we get nothing in return. How do we get movement on this?”
People were also frustrated that plans for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway hadn’t been updated since Auckland Council decided to zone Warkworth as a Satellite Town and increase its population five-fold. The majority of the growth would occur to the south of Warkworth, where there is no access to the motorway. Under the current plan, residents in the south of Warkworth will have to head north through Hill Street to get onto the motorway.
NZTA transport planner Sebastian Reed said the plan for the motorway couldn’t be changed.
“This has been raised a lot, but the decision has been made. We are currently reviewing the tenders, so it’s not something we can change.”
Many people suggested that the northern section of the motorway could be built first and create a temporary bypass of Warkworth by linking to Valerie Close, but that has also been rebuffed.
NZTA media manager Sarah Azam says the motorway designation does not allow for a new connection to SH1.
“Based on the current RFP [request for proposals], it would not be possible for the project to start at the Warkworth end to create a Warkworth bypass for completion prior to the full motorway,” Sarah says. “The Transport Agency anticipates that construction will take place at multiple sites along the designation to achieve opening for traffic in 2022.”
But the draft proposal does show AT is thinking of building a park and ride in Warkworth, near the Hudson Road intersection.
But the 30-year plan did not include any express bus service from Mahurangi into the city. A map with proposed extension of an express bus service showed it being extended to Silverdale in the next decade and then to Grand Drive in Orewa in the following decade, but that’s where the extension ends.
Consultation on the route of the Warkworth to Wellsford leg of the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway is expected to be held in September as NZTA hopes to gain consent for the route by 2018. How the motorway will navigate the Dome Valley has put a big question mark over this stage of the project.