28 Nov 2018

Notorious intersection fixes not enough for residents

7:56 pm on 28 November 2018

An infamously-confusing intersection north of Auckland with 55 turning combinations is again riling locals who are unimpressed with two proposed solutions to fix it.

Grant McLaughlan at the Warkworth intersection.

Grant McLaughlan at the Warkworth intersection. Photo: RNZ / Amy Williams

The New Zealand Transport Authority is seeking public feedback on two possible upgrades to Warkworth's Hill Street intersection, which locals describe as five intersections in one.

Warkworth resident and Fix Hill Street Now campaign member Grant McLachlan said neither of the suggested fixes went far enough.

"We have an engineer in the community advisory group and he's been exploring a multitude of designs throughout the country and we think the answer may be a hybrid of all three designs," he said.

NZTA's two main options include a large roundabout at the intersection with five exits, or adding traffic lights at the Hill Street and State Highway One intersection with the main street, Elizabeth Street, becoming a one-way street leading into Warkworth.

As a former hearings commissioner and lawyer, Mr McLachlan is familiar with planning issues. He drives through the Hill Street intersection each day and says it is dangerous because it is confusing.

"There's always something going on, remember it's five intersections within 30 metres and the route I usually take I have to give way three times to get into town. It's quite confusing for people," he said.

The intersection is so troublesome that locals and tourists have even coined their own names for it.

"When they trialled closing Elizabeth Street to see if that relieved congestion people would go up there and do a u-turn called a Milly.

"When they initially closed off the right-hand turn into Hill Street people came down the slipstream from the north then turned into the traffic lights and we called that a Hilly," Mr McLachlan said.

About 50 people went to an open day to view and hear about the intersection upgrades on Saturday. Another open day is being held until 7pm tonight at the Warkworth Town Hall.

NZTA's director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said they wanted to hear from the local community.

"The upgrade is to simplify the traffic movements and improving current congestion issues and we've invited everyone to consider those two options and give us feedback. We're going to use that feedback to inform the business case that is developed," he said.

Locals who drive through the infamous intersection would like to see it fixed.

Aaron Bank tries to avoid driving through Hill Street when coming into Warkworth's town because of the danger.

"It's confusing for people who know it let alone people who don't and because there's a lot of tourists attractions out that way it's just asking for trouble."

Rhiannon Gill drives through the intersection each day to get to work and says she's had a close call.

"When they closed it off coming into town from Wellsford there was a truck that came straight at me when I was on the right side of the road, and they were on the wrong side of the road, and they went straight over the island. That was pretty scary," she said.

With good local humour, The Fix Hill Street Now group is adding a line of T-shirts to its campaign for the intersection with a symbol of the intersection that looks like a stick-dog.

"The intersection is shaped like a dog and acts like a dog, so it's a bit of local humour. Just head up to the local sign-maker and he'll print you one," Mr McLachlan said.

Anyone wanting to view NZTA's plans for the Hill Street intersection and have a say can do so here.