Locals unimpressed with fixes for ‘NZ’s Worst Intersection’ with 55 turn combinations

STEVE HATHAWAY

Residents are unimpressed with a government agency’s top three options for fixing an infamous north Auckland intersection.

Warkworth’s Hill Street intersection is one of the country’s worst and the community has been begging the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for a permanent fix for years.

The NZTA has now shortlisted three options for fixing the intersection, which has a reputation for creating driver confusion with its 55 different turning combinations.

The Fix Hill Street Now action group's billboard raises awareness around the Warkworth intersection.
FIX HILL STREET NOW ACTION GROUP
The Fix Hill Street Now action group’s billboard raises awareness around the Warkworth intersection.

In a statement, NZTA director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said the focus was to simplify traffic movements, improve congestion and cater for future traffic growth.

Two other nearby roading projects, one linking to Matakana and another major motorway upgrade north of Pūhoi, opening late in 2021, would also reduce traffic through Hill St.

NZTA director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said the options were designed to eliminate confusion, improve congestion and cater for growth in the area.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ
NZTA director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said the options were designed to eliminate confusion, improve congestion and cater for growth in the area.

“There may be a need to phase the improvements at the Hill St intersection to align with these projects, and when future development is completed,” Mutton said.

Residents feel so strongly they have set up an action group, dubbed “Fix Hill St Now”, going so far as printing t-shirts showing there are five intersections in 30 metres.

Campaign leader Grant McLachlan said the intersection was confusing for both locals and travellers: “There’s always someone who doesn’t know how to use the intersection.”

"FIx Hill St Now" campaign leader Grant McLachlan is not entirely happy with any of NZTA's three options.
CAROLINE WILLIAMS
“FIx Hill St Now” campaign leader Grant McLachlan is not entirely happy with any of NZTA’s three options.

Option A featured a large roundabout on the highway with five exits.

McLachlan was concerned the roundabout entry points were too close together, posing difficulty for buses, trucks and trucks with trailers.

“They need to take into account who will be using this [the intersection].”

St and SH1 intersection. Elizabeth St would become a one-way street leading into the Warkworth town centre and a new connection at Bank St would serve as a route back on to SH1.

McLachlan said this and option A both failed to deal with a problem at another nearby intersection where traffic often backed up on the busy roads leading to Matakana and Sandspit.

He was also concerned about a new signalled intersection on the highway leading into Warkworth, saying traffic would back up and could cause problems for the police station and a St John ambulance terminal.

Option A included a roundabout with exits to SH1, Hill St and Elizabeth St.
NEW ZEALAND TRANSPORT AGENCY
Option A included a roundabout with exits to SH1, Hill St and Elizabeth St.

“There’s going to be one hell of a queue to get to those lights.”

A variation of option B included a roundabout at Matakana and Sandspit Rds and made Elizabeth St available for left-turning traffic from Hill St only.

McLachlan said the group was disappointed in the three short-listed options.

Option B involved traffic lights at the Hill St and SH1 intersection and at a new connection from Bank St to SH1.
NEW ZEALAND TRANSPORT AGENCY
Option B involved traffic lights at the Hill St and SH1 intersection and at a new connection from Bank St to SH1.

“Each of these options are imperfect in their own unique way.”

When asked if the Hill St intersection garnered more collisions than other Warkworth intersections, Brendan Reid of Warkworth Collision Repairs said he “couldn’t say that was the case”.

“It’s a complicated intersection, but the complication of it slows traffic down.”

A variation of option B went on to include a roundabout where Matakana and Sandspit Rds split.
NEW ZEALAND TRANSPORT AGENCY
A variation of option B went on to include a roundabout where Matakana and Sandspit Rds split.

He believed the traffic lights and reduced speed caused by confusion made the chance of accidents less likely.

“But that doesn’t take away from how slow, dangerous, complicated, inappropriate that intersection is for motorists at all.”

Auckland Council Rodney councillor Greg Sayers said the announcement of the three shortlisted options was the beginning of what the community had been wanting desperately for many years.

The agency was seeking feedback from the public on the shortlisted options. Feedback could be submitted online or at the Warkworth Library by December 14.