A 30-year transport plan for Warkworth misses one vital ingredient – timeframes, according One Mahurangi co-chair Dave Stott.
Consultation on the plan, drafted by Auckland Transport and the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency under the Supporting Growth Alliance umbrella, closed on June 7.
Stott says in principle, the plan addresses most of the issues that are regularly discussed at the quarterly Transport and Infrastructure Forum, which represents numerous organisations from throughout Mahurangi.
“But the biggest omission in the plan is timing,” he says.
He fears that the two agencies have under-estimated the pace of growth that will occur in Warkworth over coming years and “once again, infrastructure will lag behind development”, and residents will face years of serious congestion and disruption.
The plan includes improved cycling and walking tracks, two new bus interchanges including one park and ride, a southern interchange on the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, a Sandspit link road, the long-awaited western collector road and a second ‘wider’ western collector road. None of the projects are currently funded.
As a result of local representation, the alliance has agreed to consider two routes for the Sandspit link road. Its preference is a route that goes to the west of the quarry, but they have agreed to also consider a route east of the quarry, which local representatives say involves fewer landowners, stream crossings and intersections, as well as being better geotechnically with better road geometry.
Stott says the park and ride at the northern motorway interchange also needs to be twice as big.
“There seems to be a move away from park and rides in favour of public transport, shuttle buses, cycling and walking,” he says. “But this is just not practical in a rural area.
“The plan proposes a park and ride for 200-250 vehicles. This needs to be doubled to accommodate at least 500 vehicles.
“The one thing we all agree on is that we don’t want vast carparking areas like at Silverdale and Albany, so they may have to consider a multi-level park.”
Stott says another intersection that needs to be considered sooner rather than later is at Matakana Road/Sharp Road.
“Once the motorway and Matakana link road open, traffic volumes on Sharp Road are likely to increase substantially.
“We will need greater storage capacity for right turning traffic out of Matakana Road and there is also likely to be a need for a pedestrian/cycle crossing near the intersection once the cycleway to Warkworth is constructed. The road itself will need to be upgraded as it couldn’t handle increased volumes of traffic in its current state.”
Stott says that while the southern interchange is on the plan, the nature of Public Private Partnerships means there will be protracted and complex contractual negotiations between Waka Kotahi and NX2. He doesn’t see the intersection happening for at least 10 to 15 years “at least”.
On the glacial speed of improvements to Hill Street, Stott says funding has been committed for detailed design, consents and land purchase.
Although there is no budget for construction, he hopes that the relatively small cost of construction – estimated to be around $16 million – will mean funding won’t delay the work starting when the new motorway opens, around this time next year. It is likely the intersection will be “under construction” for 12 to 15 months as the work will need to be phased.
One Mahurangi has asked that the future western link road exits onto a signalised intersection on the current State Highway 1, opposite McKinney Road, rather than south of McKinney as shown in the plan.
On traffic issues a bit further afield, Stott says there has also been some discussion with the Matakana Community Group over congestion issues at the Matakana Road and Matakana Valley Road intersection.
“One solution would be to eliminate parking on the western side of Matakana Road and on the Matakana Valley Road, between Torea Road and the roundabout.”
Some preliminary discussions have also been held on a plan to investigate the feasibility of running a ferry service from the end of Dawson Road, Snells Beach to central Auckland and water taxis from Snells Beach to Warkworth
However, new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, which apply to any natural wetlands in the coastal marine area, may limit what infrastructure can be provided.
“We are trying to get a meeting with Environment Minister David Parker for clarification,” Stott says.
Further Supporting Growth Transport Plan information can be viewed here: https://haveyoursay-supportinggrowth.nz/planning-warkworths-transport-future
A summary of the feedback received will be available in the coming weeks.
Supporting Growth Alliance spokesperson Philippa White says Warkworth was the first engagement to be undertaken on the new interactive public engagement platform The Hive.
A total of 30 comments were received on the interactive map and 39 people provided feedback via the online survey. Additionally, 450 landowners were contacted directly.
White says the next step will be to complete more detailed investigations for all the proposed projects.
“This will include environmental and technical assessments, and engagement with mana whenua, other partners, local property owners, developers and key community stakeholders will continue this year,” she says.
“This will help us make decisions to confirm the preferred options.”
The Warkworth Business Case process is expected to be finished towards the end of the year and will be scheduled for consideration by the Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi boards early next year.
Our planning work will integrate with Auckland Council’s land use plans including the Warkworth Structure Plan to support future growth for these areas.
It will also need to consider how these projects will integrate with other priority projects such as the Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway and Matakana link road, Hill Street improvements and other transport upgrades delivered by the Rodney Local Board.
The majority of these projects are yet to be funded for delivery. It is anticipated they will be considered for funding in line with the long-term timeframes for the rezoning and release of land by Auckland Council over the next 10 to 30 years.