Campaigners for an overhaul of a notorious intersection on State Highway 1 at Warkworth have told MPs the overloaded intersection is a health and safety risk and needs to be redesigned as soon as possible.
The Fix Hill Street Now Action Group, which includes Britomart designer Roger Williams, spoke to the Transport Select Committee at Parliament on their petition to urgently fix congestion at the intersection on State Highway One at the north end of Warkworth.
Williams, a transport designer, said he designed Britomart, and had worked in London, Jordan, and Hong Kong. "This is the worst, most difficult intersection I have ever seen."
He likened it to an eight-legged dog. "On some legs you have to give way to five different directions at the same time. That level of confusion is really bad."
Fellow action group member Glyn Williams said it was a health and safety risk. It was confusing, especially to overseas visitors, and the local fire and ambulance service struggled to get through.
The group said it could not wait until after the new Puhoi to Wellsford motorway opened in 2021, especially given the growth in Warkworth.
The NZ Transport Agency has set aside $2 million to investigate the best options to redesign the intersection - a process that would take about a year.
Peter Carr, the manager of funding and infrastructure at the NZTA, said that study into options would allow them to take account of other major roading projects, such as the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway and a Matakana bypass, as well as expected population growth.
However, action group member Glyn Williams said that would take too long and it was unclear where the funding for construction would come from. It was highly unlikely the new motorway would be enough to free up the intersection and a remedy was needed now.
The intersection has long been renowned as a bottleneck for Aucklanders travelling north on holiday, and Glyn Williams said it was becoming that way on an everyday basis.
Last Waitangi weekend it took an average of two hours to get through the intersection, and it was blocked for 30 hours solid.
The group presented an animation of their own design for a massive roundabout they said would be safer and take about 18 months to build at minimal disruption.
Rodney MP Mark Mitchell said he had been working on the issue with the local community and businesses, Auckland Transport and NZTA for three years.
"In the entire history of Hill St we finally have dedicated funding in place to get the planning and redesign process underway."
He said that process would have to include public consultation and there were property issues to resolve because of the adjacent park.
"We won't know the full costs of the project till all that work has been done."
However NZ First's Tracey Martin, a Warkworth local, said the $2 million was too little, too late.
"It's $2 million and that's not going to fix it. It's just for a plan, another plan."
She said NZTA had claimed to "prioritise" Hill St over and over again, yet little happened.
She also claimed a survey commissioned by the Rodney Local Board in 2013 had shown tourists were put off travelling north by two things - the toll road to Puhoi and the Hill St intersection after others posted about it on social networks such as Weibo.