Cr Sayers says the redesign of Hill Street with two roundabouts will likely be completed in four years if Council approves funding on June 24.
Auckland Council has found money to fund an upgrade to Warkworth’s troubled Hill Street intersection, but the fight to secure it is far from over.
The initial draft of the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) released in April showed that the upgrade would cost $18.8 million but no money was allocated to meet that cost.
However, Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers told a Warkworth Area Liaison Group meeting earlier this month that a review of the RLTP had found sufficient money to fund 25 per cent ($4.7 million) of the project. This could then be used to leverage additional money from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to entirely fund the project.
However, the revised RLTP must first undergo the scrutiny of Council‘s planning committee, which will discuss the issue on June 24.
Cr Sayers was initially optimistic ratification of the Hill Street money was a mere formality, but that was before the Government’s announcement of a $685 million cycling and walking bridge across Waitemata Harbour, which he says has put the Hill Street upgrade at “huge risk”.
“Roading projects in south Auckland at Mill Road and Papakura, have been axed as a result of that announcement, and some councillors are now scrambling to get their hands on the Hill Street money,” he says.
Cr Sayers says the information came to him from a source within AT who did not explicitly name the councillors involved.
“Councillors shouldn’t be trying to overturn the professional recommendation of Auckland Transport on a political whim, but that is what they are going to try to do,” he says.
As a result, Cr Sayers is putting out a call to all residents of Mahurangi to rally at the Auckland Town Hall at 11.30am on June 24 when the Planning Committee meets.
“Organise transport with friends and family, as the bigger the crowd, the less likely councillors will be prepared to overturn Auckland Transport’s endorsement in a public arena,” he says.
“We need the power of the people to win this.”
One Mahurangi deputy chair and long-time Hill Street campaigner Dave Stott agrees that it is critical the community makes its voice heard by those on the planning committee.
He plans to ask Mahurangi community leaders to sign a letter backing the Hill Street funding, which he proposes to send to all Auckland Councillors prior to the June 24 meeting.
Cr Sayers says the latest revision of the draft RLTP means that for the first time in history, Hill Street has a chance to have a full budget to fix it.
“Hill Street could be reconstructed and finished over the next four years,” he says.
The redesigned intersection will employ a dual roundabout, which the majority of local residents approved when Auckland Transport consulted on different design options in late 2018.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Auckland Mayor’s office said while the June 24 meeting would provide councillors with an opportunity to discuss and endorse the proposal, the final approval rested with the Auckland Transport Board.
The spokesperson said the Mayor was not aware of any move by councillors to direct funding away from Hill Street and Cr Sayers should provide evidence to back his assertion.