Transport Agency fail to provide cycleway

By Mathew Dearnaley

NZTA State Highways Manager Tommy Parker. Photo / NZPA
NZTA State Highways Manager Tommy Parker. Photo / NZPA

Road safety messages urging drivers to take breaks have been contrasted to a lack of service facilities proposed for a 18.5-kilometre extension of Auckland's Northern Motorway.

The Transport Agency also came under questioning at a fast-track planning hearing for the $760 project for failing to provide for a leg of the Government's national cycleway beside a motorway route from south of Puhoi to north of Warkworth.

Ross Dillon, lawyer for property and tourism giant Asia Pacific International, indicated to a board of inquiry that it could provide a service site on Moirs Hill from its substantial land holdings along about 7km of the route.

Agency highways manager Tommy Parker said his organisation was not opposed to a service centre on an appropriate site, but Moirs Hill was close to Warkworth and the geometry and geology needed to be right for access ramps.

But although northbound motorists now have access to a centre beside the existing motorway near Silverdale, Mr Parker acknowledged those travelling the other way would not find one anywhere between Warkworth and Drury.

Mr Dillon had put to him that public safety was a Resource Management Act requirement to which a service centre would contribute.

"There is no provision for a service centre yet NZTA [the Transport Agency] spends quite a bit of money convincing people to take a break from driving," the lawyer said.

He also asked Mr Parker if he understood the national cycleway's contribution to tourism, to which the official said the motorway route was not the right environment for pedallers.

Cyclists could use the existing State Highway One, which would have less traffic.

He accepted a suggestion remaining traffic may travel faster on the old road, but said there would be fewer heavier vehicles "and trucks and bikes are a very bad combination."

Mr Parker confirmed his organisation's intention to toll the new road, but said it had yet to decide what to charge motorists.

Tolls needed to be at a level which did not discourage too many drivers from using it.

The agency did not believe a major upgrade to Warkworth's difficult Hill St intersection, where many drivers turn off to eastern beaches, would remedy holiday congestion until the motorway extension is completed by about 2021 to divert northbound traffic past the town.

A decision to delay an upgrade costing $15 million or more has infuriated many community leaders.

But Mr Parker announced to the hearing that the agency was working with Auckland Transport towards minor improvements to the intersection over the next year or two.

That included widening approaches from the north and south, and from Snells Beach Road.

He acknowledged to board chairman John Priestley, a retired High Court judge, that the turnoff could be particularly confusing for tourists unfamiliar with it, saying: "Essentially it's three intersections squeezed into one."

- NZ Herald

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