Media Release: Puhoi Warkworth Toll Road “Fundamentally Flawed”

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NZTA report cites delays at Warkworth to increase significantly after toll road completes

The Campaign for Better Transport today labelled the proposed Warkworth toll road as “fundamentally flawed”.

The organisation today took its concerns to the Board of Inquiry set up to look at the environmental impacts of the $750m extension of the existing Northern Gateway Toll Road from Puhoi to north of Warkworth.

Spokesperson Cameron Pitches says that without improvements to the notorious Hill Street intersection, or the inclusion of a new link road to Matakana, the $750m project will not meet one of its key objectives of reducing congestion at Warkworth.

In a report to the Board, project backers the NZ Transport Agency concede that unless changes are made, “delays at the Hill Street intersection were forecast to increase significantly” as a result of construction of the new toll road.

The report goes on to say that changing the layout “seems entirely reasonable, as the traffic patterns will change significantly in this area.”

Last month NZTA announced they intend to hold off on any potential upgrades of the intersection until at least 2021, after the toll road is complete.

The same report cites travel time savings of only one or two minutes for trips to Warkworth and the Matakana region at most times of the day after the toll road is complete.

“This is because the fastest route will still be the existing State Highway one,” said Mr Pitches.

“The travel time savings for this project are microscopic, outside of the relatively infrequent holiday periods.

Mr Pitches says because the toll road won’t achieve the objective of reducing congestion at Warkworth, the Board needs to consider declining the application.

“It is pretty clear the toll road solution won’t achieve NZTA’s objectives,” said Mr Pitches. “It is fundamentally flawed in a number of areas.”

 

Presentation to Puhoi – Warkworth Board of Inquiry

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Today the Campaign for Better Transport presents their submission to the Board of Inquiry. The full presentation is here.

Our  areas of contention are:

  • Whether projected traffic volumes for the Project route and existing SH1 are realistic
  • Whether a supporting economic analysis consistent with the NZTA’s Economic Evaluation Manual should be supplied
  • Whether alternatives have been adequately considered
  • Whether unsafe sections of the existing SH1 require mitigation

 

Northland Rail Must Stay Open

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The Campaign for Better Transport is calling for the Northland rail network to remain open in the long term, in the wake of Kiwirail’s decision to suspend all freight services north of Auckland.

Kiwirail’s announcement means that up to 200 truck movements a day of milk powder and logs will be added to the roading network north of Auckland.

“We need to bear in mind the line carries both dairy and forestry products and most road users are well aware of the dangers logging trucks pose. By adding an additional 200 or more trucks daily on Northland’s roads there is a higher risk of accidents causing death or severe injury to innocent road users,” campaign spokesperson Jon Reeves said.

The Campaign for Better Transport is concerned that the suspension of services could become permanent. However, Mr Reeves said that now would be the perfect opportunity to carry out needed maintenance of the line, in time for the resumption of freight services.

“We need to keep the Northland network open for the benefit of freight and road users. If central Government was not spending so much on the $800m Puhoi to Warkworth toll road, there would be money to do this,” said Mr Reeves.

The Campaign for Better Transport proposed “Operation Lifesaver” in 2010 as a more cost effective option to address safety issues between Puhoi and Wellsford.

 

More Bus Lanes For Fanshawe Street

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Campaign for Better Transport spokesperson Cameron Pitches today welcomed the announcement of additional bus lanes for Fanshawe Street.

“This will come as a relief to North Shore bus commuters, who regularly find themselves stuck in general traffic during the evening rush hour,” said Mr Pitches.

Last month Luke Christensen posted a plan for a westbound bus lane on Fanshawe Street on the popular blog transportblog.co.nz.

His plan to create a continuous bus lane from Britomart to the Harbour Bridge on-ramp was endorsed by the Campaign for Better Transport, and caught the eye of Auckland Transport Chair Dr Lester Levy.

Dr Levy directed officials to examine the plan and today announced that they had “reviewed their programme and concluded that there would be value in doing the Fanshawe Street westbound bus lane improvements as soon as practicable. Once the planning regulatory processes have been resolved it is possible that we could have a solution in place within three months.”

Mr Pitches said the proposal was a good example of the “low hanging fruit” that exists for public transport investment in Auckland.

“It is great that Dr Levy is listening to regular commuters and has fast-tracked the idea.  These additional lanes can be created for a relatively low cost, yet bring significant benefits for North Shore commuters. “

TransportBlog Movie Night – “Her”

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The team at TransportBlog have organised their next movie night fundraiser for Wednesday 12th March at the Capitol, Balmoral.

Set in the Los Angeles of the slight future, “Her” follows Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user.

If you’re thinking this has nothing to do with transport, then you’re right!  But it does have Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson is the voice of the operating system.  Peter Calder at the Herald gives it four stars.

You can order tickets (which include a glass of wine) from Eventbrite.  Doors open at 8:00pm. Get in quick and support the excellent, completely voluntary work by the TransportBlog team.

More details, including the trailer, over at TransportBlog.

 

Government Needs Be Part of the CRL Solution

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Demand for a bridge cannot be judged by the number of people swimming across a river.

Yet the Prime Minister insists that rail patronage must double before the Government commits to funding the City Rail Link, a concept that does not apply to the multi-billion dollar Roads of National Significance.

Construction of the CRL and three new inner city stations will result in far more demand for rail travel than currently. For instance, a trip from New Lynn to the new mid-town Aotea Station will take just 23 minutes at peak time – faster than a car journey and much faster than the current journey via public transport, which takes around 45 minutes. Across the entire network, capacity and frequency will at least double, benefiting all rail users and not just those employed in the CBD.

Delaying the CRL until 2020 acts as a handbrake to Auckland’s growing economy, and will be more expensive than making a start now. No other option offers better value for money. It is time for the Government to accept this and be part of the solution.

Submission on Puhoi to Warkworth

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This is the submission of the Campaign for Better Transport on Ara Tuhono: Puhoi to Warkworth project to the Environmental Protection Agency.  A pdf version of the submission is here .

Introduction

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) is a non-politically aligned group that advocates for sustainable transport policies and projects throughout Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. The CBT regularly advocates for better alignment between land-use planning and its effects on the transport network, better public transport and better walking and cycling facilities.

Summary of Submission

The CBT generally opposes the Puhoi to Warkworth section of Ara Tuhono (“the Project”). This is for a number of reasons that are detailed further in this submission.

  • There is a high probability the project will not realise the project objectives and benefits sought by the NZTA
  • The justification for the Project on the grounds of route security is based on a very low number of incidents on the existing SH1
  • Safety issues on the existing SH1 should be addressed. Should the Project be confirmed, traffic volumes on the existing SH1 will be similar to present day levels. Users of the existing SH1 in 2026 are three to four times more likely to be involved in injury accidents than users of the Project route
  • Likely traffic volumes for the Project have been overstated. The Transportation and Traffic Assessment Report lacks the necessary detail required to conclude support for the Project
  • Reports to back up claimed economic benefits are not based on any empirical data or studies
  • Alternative options which will achieve NZTA’s objectives have been not been considered

Read the rest of this entry »

Puhoi to Warkworth Toll Road Submissions Close December 13

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Central Government referred the Puhoi to Warkworth “Holiday Highway” to a fast tracked Board of Inquiry process, as reported in the Herald.  Accordingly submissions on the proposed toll road ( which won’t actually be any faster for Warkworth residents) close next Friday 13th December. If you would like to make a submission you can do so here .

Better Transport will be making a submission, pointing out that our own “Operation Lifesaver” project would be far cheaper and offer greater benefits for everybody, not just the motorists who can afford the toll.


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