The NZ Transport Agency says its priority to improve traffic flows in the Warkworth area is to first construct a new highway between Puhoi and Warkworth before it upgrades the community’s Hill Street intersection.
“I acknowledge that many in the community want Hill Street upgraded as soon as possible, but it is important that we have a reliable alternative route in place first for people before we tackle Hill Street,” says the Transport Agency’s State Highway Manager, Tommy Parker.
Mr Parker says upgrading the intersection and the state highway and five local roads that feed into it will be a complex task that will take some time to complete.
“There’s not a lot of room at the intersection and we will need to keep all those roads open during the upgrade. We estimate construction could take two summers to complete and that will mean considerable disruption for everyone – children from the nearby school, residents, local businesses and road users.
“Upgrading Hill Street, either in isolation or ahead of the new highway, will not provide substantial relief from congestion. It makes sense to construct the highway first to help us manage the disruption from that work and divert traffic away from the intersection.”
The new State Highway 1 link between Puhoi and Warkworth is the first section of Ara Tūhono Puhoi-to-Wellsford Road of National Significance – a project identified by the Government as economically important to improve travel reliability between the Auckland and Northland regions.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Inquiry will start public hearings in April to consider the Transport Agency’s application for consents to construct the highway.
The Board is expected to make its decision in late 2014. If successful, Mr Parker says the Transport Agency hopes to start construction as soon as possible after that decision. The project is expected to take 5 years to complete.
The highway will be 18-and-a-half-kilometres long and it will sweep to the west past Warkworth and rejoin the existing SH1 just north of the community and the Hill Street intersection.
Mr Parker says the Transport Agency is working with Auckland Transport – Auckland Council’s transport body - to progress other options including the Matakana Link, which will connect with the new highway and bypass Hill Street to the region’s eastern beaches, the Western Collector in the town and the SH1/McKinney Road intersection south of the township.
“Hill Street was part of a series of SH1 improvements that also includes the completed upgrades of the intersections at Woodcocks, Whitaker and Hudson Road intersections, and they were originally discussed before the introduction of the new highway and its wider strategic importance for the Rodney area and Auckland and our regional neighbours to the north and south.
“I want to assure people that the Transport Agency remains committed to upgrading travel through Warkworth, including Hill Street. We will continue to work with Auckland Transport to get the best possible outcome for Warkworth and the wider community,” Mr Parker says.
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