Andrew Scoggins: Warkworth road jam a complex project

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Local residents of Warkworth protest against central government plans to divert money earmarked for the redevelopment of the central Warkworth road junction to other projects. Photo / Chris Loufte
Local residents of Warkworth protest against central government plans to divert money earmarked for the redevelopment of the central Warkworth road junction to other projects. Photo / Chris Loufte

There is no doubt the road layout in and around Hill St at Warkworth is one of the most challenging and frustrating journeys anywhere in the region.

For locals and visitors alike, getting in and out of what was once a sleepy township can now take upwards of an hour.

That is exacerbated by the explosion in new homes and businesses being built in new urban developments in the Matakana/Warkworth area.

Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency have identified this as a priority project " but it is not as simple as banging in a roundabout or two.

A key project to help move the highway traffic away from the town centre is the Ara-Tuhono Puhoi to Warkworth Road of National Significance, which moves traffic to the west of the township.

Congestion at the Hill St intersection will be reduced with the provision of the proposed Matakana Link Rd through to State Highway 1, north of the Hill St intersection, as an alternative route.

In addition, the realignment of Sandspit Rd has been identified as a way to improve access to the eastern beaches.

Extending the Western Collector arterial would also help alleviate pressure within the town centre by providing an alternative route to State Highway 1 from northern Warkworth to future industrial and residential growth areas in the west and south.

There are also proposals for a frequent express bus route between Auckland and Warkworth along the new Puhoi to Warkworth Road of National Significance, which would help take private vehicles off the road.

To ensure easy access to the service, a park and ride is proposed by Hudson Rd, with local buses providing a connection to this service.

In a recent Herald article, Grant McLachlan suggests putting in a roundabout at a cost of less than $100,000.

A roundabout is great at quieter times of the day and when traffic flows from each direction are equal.

On the down side, it can be difficult to provide a safe environment for pedestrians or cyclists at roundabouts (particularly multi-lane roundabouts), and at busy times a roundabout may not provide as much capacity as a traffic signal controlled intersection.

Traffic using roundabouts can experience significant delays where the approaches to roundabouts carry differing volumes of traffic (i.e. where one or two approaches carry much more traffic than other approaches).

Despite Mr McLachlan's assertions, a roundabout would cost in the vicinity of several million dollars, and such a significant investment has to be carefully weighed up.

The reason for ongoing consultation is quite simply that any solution has to be worked on with locals to ensure that it works for locals as an absolute bottom line.

- NZ Herald

Andrew Scoggins is group manager, roading, for Auckland Transport.

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